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Re: orion Re: perspectives, Essenes
> I will try again. Since:
> Pliny's source clearly referred to Qumran/En Feshkah. The scrolls
Once again we see terminology that does not further discussion, such
as "clearly." In fact, such things are precisely what is in debate
here. The Pliny reference is vague at best, and discussion here has
shown that there are several ways it can be read. Let me try again:
none of this stuff is firmly established. We have conflicting
hypotheses that should be forcing us all to go back to the data and
re-examine with unjaundiced eyes rather than making us dig in our
> embody the views of Essenes with as much fidelity (or more) as one can
> reasonably expect of ancient historians.
Essene views such as praise of Alexander Jannaeus, warlike hatred of
enemies, rules for marriage, and a host of other ideas that are not
congruent with what our other sources tell us about the Essenes. I
also was not aware that the scroll authors were "ancient historians."
That's a new one on me.
> The new Qumran ostracon, even with
> various letters which reasonable people can question, is clearly a act of
> conveyance whose closest parallel is surely Serek hayahad which is surely
There are several things here. First, there is nothing clear about
the idea that this thing is an act of conveyance. The only part of
it that purports to suggest this is the presence of NTN, as Greg
mentioned. And of course NTN has a very broad semantic range, so it
cannot establish anything. Second, if it is an act of conveyance it
is conveyance of a slave, and we know from other sources that the
Essenes did not keep slaves. C&E glossed right over this glaring
"The mention of the gift of a slave raises the question of whether
the Qumran community kept slaves. Philo, in _Quo omnis probus_ 12
(79), writes: 'There is no slave among them, but all are free,
inasmuch as they work for one another.' Josephus, describing the
Essenes' attitude towards wives and slaves, comments: 'they neither
marry wives nor are desirous to keep slaves...'"
"Nevertheless, _Damascus Document_ contains some rules concerning
slaves. In 11:12 we read 'No one shall urge on ('rmy) his manservant
(wdb`), his maidservant, or his hireling on the Sabbath.' In 12:9-11
it states that: 'He shall refuse, with all his power, to sell to them
(the Gentiles) anything from his granary or wine-press, and he shall
not sell them his manservant or maidservant inasmuch as they have
been brought to him into the covenant of Abraham.'"
>From there they simply go merrily on their way as if there's no
problem at all. I find this amazing. What this should tell us, if
we were of a mind to examine the obvious, is: the Damascus Document
is not Essene!
Oh, yes, before I forget, it can also be greatly debated whether 1QS
is Essene, but that will have to be a topic for another time. For
now, we could take this ostracon and almost any ancient Hebrew
document that is fairly complete and find verbal parallels of some
kind. I find it telling that Greg started out heavily impressed by
the proposed congruence of the ostracon with 1QS, then upon further
examination found himself backing away from his initial statements.
Recently I have been re-reading 1QS and I don't see the parallels,
except for a word here and there that might or might not be
> The scrolls include the Hebrew self-designation 'osey hatorah
> which led to the name "Essenes."
I'll have to go back through the archives and see your linguistic
evidence for this link; for now I'll let it pass.
> The real question for open-minded historians is not whether Qumran
> and Essenes are related, though anyone is free to try to keep the two
> hermetically separated, if they wish.
> Relevant questions include:
> To what extent were the ancient historians inadequately informed or
> did they select or color their presentations for certain audiences or
> rhetorical intentions? What differences and developments occurred within
> the Essene movement?
This last question gets us into the realm of pure speculation, of
course. We can postulate any developments we want in order to
preserve the theory, and simply say "Well, maybe there were Essenes
who kept slaves" or "Well, maybe there were Essenes who were communal
separatists" (as opposed to Josephus' statement that they lived in
every city) and so on and so on, with the sole goal of saving the
Essene hypothesis. This is guesswork, not scholarship, and I decline
to indulge in it.