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Re: orion Judah "the Essene"?
Stephen Goranson writes:
> How does RG know Josephus got Strabo through Nicolas of Damascus?
> How does RG know War 2 on Essenes was from Nicolas?
(1) Clearly Nicolas of Damascus (ND) drew on Strabo, from the passages where
Jos. cites the two together (Ant. 13.344-347, 14.68, 14.104), esp. 14.104
where he says their accounts of Pompey and Gabinius were identical ("didn't
(2) Standard Josephus scholarship says in Wars he drew exclusively on ND,
while in Antiquities he consulted Strabo also, the differences in the two
accounts being attributed to Strabo. All Strabo citations come from
Antiquities. Hence any traces of Strabo in Wars 2 comes via Nicolas.
Goransen's evidence on Strabo as a source on Essenes only pertains to the
brief discussion of Fate (i.e. the fragment also found at Ant. 13.171ff); the
majority of the essay has no Strabo features and comes from ND, who (as
Herod's flatterer) had a special interest in Essenes.
> How does RG know Judah was teacher of Menahem? If he was and the
> story was told (twice) "for this reason" why then didn't the story
Perhaps because this would introduce Menahem out of chronological order,
something which Josephus was not in the habit of doing.
> Why, if RG accepts that Menahem might be mentioned in Rabbinic
> literature (mHag 2.2), does he not allow that Judah might be mentioned
> Rabbinic literature (bQidd 66a)?
I'm not familiar with the latter passage. What is the argument here? (The
Loeb editors of Jos. don't mention it, so the case must not be that strong -
but I'm open to new evidence.)
> How does RG know that the Ant 13 account of existence of groups
> including Essenes c.146 BE is not historical?
Well, I had attributed it to the narrative framework of ND. However, your
Sources article attributes it to the narrative framework of Strabo, whose
history starts in 146. "Josephus placed it there because the histories of
Posidonius and Strabo began at that time, with their outsider's view of
Jewish philosophic 'heresies.'" The passage is pure Strabo/Stoic, discussion
of Fate. On review, I think your case is better. That said, how does Strabo
having a four-sentence summary of the 3 sects in the preface of a history
starting in 146 constitute believable evidence these sects existed then? Was
either Strabo or Pos. acquainted with 2nd century Jewish sectarian history?
(Strabo's knowledge of Judaism is mostly gross inaccuracies from
> Has RG now dropped his proposed link of "Hasidim" in 1,2 Maccabees
> and "Essenes"?
No, I think the late Essenes drew on early Hasidim writings for their
spiritual authority. And their links with Herod might explain the absence of
1/2 Macc at Qumran.
> How does RG characterize all our sources as Herodian when Josephus
> (Vita) claims some personal knowledge and the sources of, say, Dio,
> Hippolytus, and Epiphanius were not specified?
How could Josephus spend a year with each sect when Essene initiation took 3
years? Is this the same as the Bannus wilderness figure? Josephus' personal
contact with the Essenes is regularly questioned in Josephus scholarship. Is
Dio's "city" of the Essenes contemporary information, or does it draw on
Pliny's source? Are the Sicarii and Zealots branches of Essenes
(Hippolytus)? Epiphanius ("Ossenes" and "Jesseans" as I recall) is, what,
My posting referred to "primary literary sources" on Essenes (i.e. ND,
Strabo, Agrippa) who are indeed Herodian. Note that Herod and Agrippa toured
Asia Minor together, including Pontus (Ant. 16.21-23) the home of Strabo; and
of course Herod was the patron of Nicolas of Damascus. This leads one to ask
how much Herod the Great was the source of ALL our information on Essenes.
If Herodian biases permeate all our sources, surely this suggests we view
all Essene accounts much more critically than is usually the habit.
-- Russell Gmirkin (please note spelling)