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Re: orion perspectives, Essenes
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Jack Kilmon´s point here strikes me as useful. There is all too much talk
here-- and perhaps on several sides-- of what ancient Jewish groups did or
did not know or practise. So, for example, Larry Shiffman wants to find
halakha in the Scrolls, in spite of the fact (quite correct, as far as I am
aware) which also Steven Gorenson points to, that the term itself is
nowhere found in the Scrolls, nor are the alleged examples of it fully
identical with the historical examples in our possession of later date. So,
there is no proto-Sadducean halakha, because the notion is anachronistic.
Then again, attempting to define the teaching of the "Essenes", whoever and
whatever they may have been, on the basis of the Scrolls, is what the Brits
call a mugs game: first one decides which texts are "Essene", then one
derives from them an "Essene theology", then one ignores possible
inconsistencies with the texts that actually *talk* about Essenes (e.g., SG
wants to claim the Cross-Eshel ostracon is an "Essene" document, but C-E
point to the reading `bd in line 14, and, as D. Washburn has pointed out,
Pliny´s "Essenes" did not keep slaves, so either that part of Pliny has to
be ignored, or one has to read the ostracon from a particular point of view
in order to get around the problem), and whatever is left lying on this
Procruste´s bed is, willy nilly, "Essene" and constitutes the *content* of
the beliefs of the peoples talked about in the ancient sources.
I´m afraid real historical research just isn´t that easy.
Frederick H. Cryer
Assoc. Prof. for Research
Univ. of Copenhagen
Faculty of Theology
1150 København K.
fax: (045) 35 32 36 52