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Re: orion Posidonius and Agrippa on Essenes
On Posidonius and Agrippa I have given some of my views in JJS 45 (1994)
295-8, an article recommended as "excellent" earlier this month by Russell
Gimirkin--perhaps that was by another person named Gimirkin? or perhaps it
meant another Posidonius article by another person named Goranson? : - )
I have given further information on Posidonius and Agrippa on orion.
Russell appears to ignore some of that. I prefer not to retype it all. But,
for example, the remarkable Qumran text links with Agrippa's phrase "gens
aeterna" offered by J.M. Baumgarten and J. Amusin. Of course, I do not
argue that Strabo, or any other historian, was always right. I agree, e.g.,
with Russell and others that Josephus apparently over-sold in Vita his
first-hand knowledge of the three groups, even while allowing that he did
Russell wrote that there is "no evidence" Philo read Posidonius'
History. This begs the question of the influence of Posidonius in Philo's
writings on Essenes and others. To exclude History is also to try to prove
a negative. Philo did not always explicitly cite his sources. Philo did
read Posidonius. Philo's Stoic and Platonic views (including philosophy of
history) were influenced by Posidonius.
Yes, Strabo, Geography 16.2.34-41 "mostly derives from Posidonius."
I have tried to raise on orion the issue of the generic-to-specific origin
of the term "Essenes" and some portrayals of Essenes as Jews par excellence
in relation to Posidonius, Strabo, Contra Apion 2, Agrippa, Dio, Philo's
Apology, maybe Horace, etc. Though I have gotten rather little feedback on
this via orion, there is interest from scholars in other quarters, and I
hope to publish more on this. (There's a little on names in my
Posidonius was interested in etymology of names of ethnic groups,
according to Strabo.
Russell wrote of ideas of a golden age as if nothing analogous ever
appeared in Judaism. He did not deal with the possibility of an
Essene-influenced version of history (e.g., with a wicked priest [cf.
Alexander Jannaeus] and other aspects of Qumran accounts of the group's
past), as if such a version could not have reached the ear of a Greek
writer. Russell did not deal with the Ant 18.22/Geo.7.3.3 link of Essenes,
Josephus, Posidonius, and Strabo.
Russell dismissed Ant 13 on Essenes in 146 BCE--exactly when
Posidonius and Strabo histories began--and the twice-attested Judah the
Essene account of 104 BCE (and cf. Menahem). And Serek ha-yahad--surely a
pre-Herod composition, in some forms--is surely Essene. Russell's
preference for a Hyrcanus setting rather than a Jannaeus setting for the
famous dinner story with sectarian strife, is, as noted, a disputed and
complex topic. Russell has not fully addressed the changing calculus of
group names from differing perspectives.
The archaeology of Qumran, following J. Magness, puts sectarians
(i.e., Essenes) there from c. 100 BCE. Russell's attempt to confine Essenes
to Herod's time certainly does not persuade me. Surely, Essenes existed
before, and after, Herod. Perhaps we should just agree to disagree.
Sincerely, Stephen Goranson email@example.com