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orion on R. Gmirkin's proposals
Though I am not eager to prolong overmuch the dating threads
and analysis of the various efforts to refuse or erase Essenes, at R.
Gmirkin's request, a few comments:
1. I would date the mention of Judah the Essene closer to 104 or 103
than 100. Menahem the Essene may predate 63 BCE, since Josephus places
him alongside a very young Herod.
2. To demand of me that I demonstrate exactly which texts were composed
or copied at Qumran is to ask something you know I cannot do. (M.
Schoyen says he has a "scroll jar" with ink offsetting inside, but I
haven't seen it.) Entirely too much has been made of this 63 date,
especially now that we can agree that AMS does not point to it . By
more than one method, many texts are dated before and after then. And
the earliest and latest dates are not necessarily statistical
anomalies, in the sense of bad tests. For most texts, much as we may
wish to know, we simply do not yet know the date or place of
composition. That Qumran/Ein Feshkha has an extraordinarily-large
number of extant inkwells is just one indication that writing occurred
there. If you now accept at least some Qumran-Essene link, the
descriptions of Essenes preserving books and studying torah is another.
Some texts give us the etymology for "Essenes" in self-designations.
3. Jodi Magness has observed that a continuity in use of loci indicates
continuity of occupants, even after an earthquake and a later fire. Her
work is excellent. Y. Meshorer's work is too, and it was a pleasure to
read his abstract, after so much nonsense on coin dating had been
written on orion. I heard Yizhar Hirschfeld's paper in Nov. He
demonstrated that many settlements have towers and but demonstrated
very little else. His focus on architecture excluded much other data. He
is a fine archaeologist who has previously done excellent work, but who
has not done himself credit in this case, IMO. Aristocrats do not
ordinarily design a pleasure villa by putting their living quarters (if
such exist at Qumran--where are the fancy beds, frescoes, etc.?) next
to a pottery shop, stable, storage rooms, etc. where imaginged "fringe"
workers pursue industry.
4. The old idea that Pharisees (not Sadducees and surely not imaginary
pseudo-Sadducees) and Essenes derived from I and 2 Maccabees' "Hasidim"
has largely and for good reason been abandoned by scholars including
(I'm relying on memory here so I may be wrong in this list) John
Kampen, Fergus Millar, and Philip Davies. This old wrong theory, I
suggest, also was intertwined with a wrong etymology for "Essenes,"
both of which slowed scholarly progress. 1 and 2 Maccabees are not good
sources for Essene and/or Qumran history, and, of course, these texts
were not found at Qumran.
5. The reading of the "Hymn to King Jonathan" is quite disputed. And
if, say, he (Jannae) were considered a wicked priest, recall that that
one was said to have started well but the fell from the truth.
6. That some Qumran texts (e.g., some pesherim and S) are Essene is no
mere "assumption." They tell us they are Essene. 4QpNah (or 1QpHab or
S) would have eventually been recognized as Essene (if I may
hypothesize) had it been found in the Cairo Genizah or the St.
Petersburg Library or a Kansas City flea market. The Essene
identification IMHO will outlive us all; it is ineluctable. Only
"methods" which exclude Essenes a priori avoid this obvious conclusion.
If we wish to be practical, we'll explore the more relevant questions,
e.g., what are the implications, which texts, etc. The only things
interesting about the anything-but-Essene views are the various
historical causes that give rise to them. I have ideas on this, but
orion-list may not be the place for them.
7. I do indeed appreciate the fact that you showed an open mind toward
AMS and toward Pliny scholarship. I haven't read your paper on dating
of the texts you listed, so on that I'll wait and see.
Stephen Goranson (please note the spelling)