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orion Mark Dunn: Essenes & palms

Mark Dunn wrote:

>On the issues raised by Ian where he states ". . . the dss were concerned
>amongst other things about gonorhea and marriages and other incidentals of
>non-celebate life which is in flagrant conflict with the info we have about
>the Essenes;"  I would have a few observations.

Dear Mark,

I don't think that the gonorrhoea talked about in the temple scroll (45:15)
has anything to do with new initiates. And the discussion about marriage in
the same section seems to deal with something that is the norm. 4Q502 deals
with marriage, old women, virgins and girls. See also texts like 4Q159,
4Q251, 4Q265, 4Q272, or 4Q275, that deal with child-birth, menstruation,
gonorrhoea, marriage, lying with women and nothing to suggest that these are
out of the ordinary. 

Josephus in AJ doesn't give any space for Essenes and marriage. It is tagged
onto the end of the BJ account as some afterthought, being not
representative. The AJ account is later. Either he has corrected an error or
it was seen as inconsequential.

Is there anything in the dss that would suggest a celebate group, as was
clearly one attribute of "normal" Essenes as recorded in both major
descriptions of Essenes by Josephus?

As this was a continuation in favour of the Essene hypothesis, let me say
that there's almost nothing to link Essenism to the dss other than 1)
certain similarities in entry into the covenant (which is based on a
document whose context is obscure), 2) the fact that the dss writers were
also believers in predestination and 3) Stephen's conjectured etymology for
"Essene". In all not much going for it.

>Stephen has advised me that there is evidence of palms at Qumran and he has
>kindly given me a few citations for which I express my thanks.

As I pointed out to Stephen, date products don't imply the local growth of
palm trees. Palm trees still need water and Qumran didn't have a natural
source. One doesn't need to have their own trees, for example, to eat dates.


I've been led to believe that there is a Roman port at the other side of the
Dead Sea whose ruins are perhaps twenty metres above the current water
level. Does anyone know anything more about this? (I merely have a verbal
account from an archaeologist who passed through.)