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orion socia palmarum and war
Marsha B. Cohen wrote: "According to Josephus the Essenes were gallant
fighters in the 70 CE war against Rome" and tentatively suggested that
Pliny perhaps wished to "tweak" his Roman audience.
I think Josephus did not write that. And Pliny, an upper-class,
patriotic Roman and army veteran (he served in Europe) would be an
unlikely candidate to wish to tweak his army for a *proposed* incomplete
Josephus wrote of Essenes: they resist passions (War 2.120) and they
are paragon peacemakers (2.135). "The war against the Romans fully
revealed their souls (2.152f). As pacifists, despite torture, they would
not blaspheme or eat forbidden food, "smiling amidst pain."
Incidentally, this *might* not be the 66-73 CE war, as usually assumed,
but, as some scholars (e.g., Tessa Rajak, if I recall correctly) have
suggested, it could be a first century *B*CE war--since a source
describes up to its own time, not the later time of Josephus. Philo
(Quod probus 78) wrote that Essenes made no weapons. Josephus did
mention a John the Essene (War 2.567; 3.11) who participated in the
revolt, without noting any followers of his. John was a common name. The
qualifier "Essene" must have been unusual, to distinguish him from other
"Johns." He must have been a former Essene and atypical (e.g., different
than Judah, Menahem, and Simon [and the form of his name is different]).
Commenting on earlier proposals: Romans didn't avoid killing Essenes.
Pliny scholarship (bibliog. given previously) has shown that Pliny
located Essenes in the Qumran area. Pliny scholarship has shown that his
(listed and confirmed) sources are overwhelmingly pre-70 CE and
specifically include Herodian-period Judaean data. Where would the
methodology of William of Ockham lead us?