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Re: orion differing perspectives on Essenes (long)

> 	It appears that some are uncomfortable, for various reasons, with
> the history of Essenes. And Qumran is obviously Essene-connected; it takes
> an act of will to be oblivious. 

Baloney.  The supposed Essene connections are based on 
presuppositions and inferences, no less than the opposing views.  
Using presuppositional terms such as "obviously" or "assured results" 
(a phrase that always sets my teeth on edge) merely dodges the real 

> Some (e.g., Talmon) ask us to wait till
> every question about Qumran mss, archaeology, and Essenes is resolved
> before writing history. But death would precede history. All
> history-writing is provisional; good history plausible. 

Agreed.  However, for historical inquiry to advance, the inquirers 
must be ready at some point to discard the status quo and re-examine 
the evidence with an unbiased eye.  In the case of DSS studies, this 
has simply not been done by the "mainstream" of Qumran/DSS research.

> Others (e.g., Golb)
> wish us to marginalize Essenes into non-existence, to locate them nowhere.

Get real, Stephen.  You know this is a false representation, not to 
say a caricature, of Golb's position.  And a poor one, at that.

> Some (e.g., Eisenman) reinvent the Essenes into something else (e.g.,
> zealots), misunderstanding Qumran and the Greek and Latin writers on
> Essenes (and Daniel, etc.).

While I find little or nothing to agree with in Eisenman, he commits 
the ultimate sin against me: he makes me think.  Retreating into the 
status quo does not answer his claims.

> 	There is no single Jewish reaction to Qumran, and no single
> Christian reaction, though religious views surely often influence scholars.
> No publication (to my knowledge) has adequately described the various
> religious and political influences. No publication (known to me) has
> adequately described history of Qumran scholarship. It may be too complex
> by now for a comprehensive account, and the most-publicized developments
> are not always the most significant.

"Adequately described"?  Define "adequately."  Golb gave a pretty 
detailed and accurate history of the trends in "Who Wrote the Dead 
Sea Scrolls?"  The fact that the status quo seekers are found wanting 
in that history is not an adequate reason to write it off as not 
being adequate.

> 	I wrote that Golb's welcome of the scrolls to Jerusalem appeared
> doubly-triumphalist to me. Some objected. If I am mistaken that he referred
> to the following two things, I apologize. 1) Claiming that his "Jerusalem
> origin" theory of the scrolls was vindicated. (He has not shown this,
> merely declared victory; in fact, that all the scrolls came from the
> Jerusalem temple library is disproven by several means, including his own
> observation on the number of hands.) 2)Claiming a political triumph. (As to
> the latter, I merely note that opinions vary on the best way to seek peace.)

In the first place, as Jim already pointed out, Golb never claimed 
that all the scrolls came from the Jerusalem temple library.  He does 
a good job of representing the Essene theorists; it's a shame they 
can't reciprocate, and apparently the only way they can refute him is 
to misrepresent him.  That says volumes in itself.  In the second 
place, even supposing that he did make such a claim, the assertion 
that it is refuted by the number of hands observable in the scrolls 
is absurd.  Why would anyone imagine that a Temple library would only 
have been produced by a few hands?  Such a library would have been 
collected from all over the Temple's region of influence, and thus we 
would expect a large number of hands.  And this is exactly what we 
see.  Once again, retreating into the status quo does not refute 
Golb, nor does caricaturizing him.

[snip - I apparently missed that part of the discussion when my mail 
site was down]
> 	Schiffman argues that the order of scroll discoveries influenced
> the characterization, which lately emphasizes halakha. (Though, may I say
> again, "halakah," strictly speaking, does not appear in the scrolls.)

The term appears and so does the literary genre.  In what way is this 
not "strictly speaking"?

> Schiffman sees this as revealing their true Jewish character. Yet were the
> first scrolls--Isaiah, pesher Hab., Gen. Apoc., hodayot, milhamah, serek
> hayahad--not Jewish? Of course the legal texts are of essential importance.
> But shall we assume with the author that his rather halakhocentric view of
> Judaism is the only or true Judaism, ancient or modern?

No, but it does tell us that the range of viewpoints represented in 
the scrolls is a lot broader than that of some narrow splinter sect.

> 	I'm not picking on Larry Schiffman, just responding to an ambitious
> and learned and  flawed article. Also, I do not wish that we constantly
> focus on a hermeneutics of suspicion. Much of Qumran scholarship
> concentrates on the relevant data.
> 	But, I do suggest, that when a scholar, for whatever reason,
> invites us to ignore evidence (e.g., of Pliny read correctly, or of
> inkwells, etc.) or asks us erase Essenes  from history or to imagine Qumran
> mss or archaeology to show what they do not (e.g., Judaism as a whole, or
> a zealot army, or a luxury estate, or a salt-seller motel, etc.) we not be
> gullible historians.

I also suggest that we represent each other fairly, something that 
has not been done in this post.  When we resort to caricatures, 
misrepresentations and the like, we have ceased to be in the realm of 

> 	Apologies for the length. Sincerely,
Dave Washburn