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orion not either/or

Some recent posts have illustrated the issue of retrojecting later
world-views on the authors of DSS. I agree with A.I. Baumgarten's comments
on context and Judith Wegner's and P.  Flesher's on Rabbinic Judaism. Of
course one can compare the DSS laws to later Rabbinic halakah, and some of
the latter positions, evidently, were also held by the earlier Pharisees.
L.H. Schiffman, for one, has written many articles on this. But the step
from such comparisons to history is a big step. The observation by
Schiffman and others that Jews should have been involved earlier in the
Cave 4 editing is of course true. But that's over; nothing can be done
about it. Now everyone, fortunately, has access.  The monopoly was
overthrown, and deserved to be. But there is no analogy to the "Essene
hypothesis," which is established by multiple converging lines of evidence,
which cannot be wished away. The historical task now is to better
understand the Essene variations.
	The DSS do not represent either Rabbinic Judaism or Second Temple
Judaism as a whole. E.g., Pharisee texts are absent. That's a major
omission. Consider the Shrine of the Book. Most people understand why the
Isaiah a scroll would get central display. It's long, and, more important,
it's canonical. (It's not exactly the Masoretic text, but it's close.) But
some other texts (S, M, H, etc.) are not from the stream of Judaism which
later became mainstream. Whether one calls Qumran "sectarian" or not
depends on definitions, e.g. of hairesis, a term (used by Josephus) which
was a neutral term at that time.
	If I may give an example from Christian history. That some
Christian triumphalist views have resulted in mistreatment of Jews (and
Jewish history) is, tragically, an understatement. But history also was
argued within Christianity. In the sixteenth century, Protestants and
Catholics argued about Essenes, and created some mistaken presuppositions
(e.g., on etymology) which still echo today. To oversimplify: Protestants
said monasticism was bad and a Catholic invention; Catholics said it was
good and as ancient as Christianity, for one reason, because Eusebius said
the Therapeutae were Christian monks. Eusebius was wrong, though Philo, a
Jew, in DVC (On the Contemplative Life) gives the earliest known uses of
the word monasterion. Celibacy and monasticism are not typically Jewish, of
course. But some Essenes, at Qumran and elsewhere, were celibate. On the
other hand, some were not, and the history of women in the movement is
properly getting attention recently (including in a chapter of Lena
Cansdale's book.)
	Whether we approve or not, evidence shows Essenes lived at Qumran
and elsewhere. The Essenes (and those texts they wrote) represent neither
Second Temple Judaism as a whole nor a small, isolated sect. Essene legal
views, largely, were rejected or ignored by Rabbinic Judaism, though there
was probably more Essene influence on Jewish mystical traditions which
persisted. In Christianity, some of the more "Jewish-Christian" books, like
Revelation of John and Epistle of James  (books, not so incidently,
disliked by Luther [an ex-monk]) were probably influenced by Essene ideas;
but, though canonical, were reinterpreted over time.
Stephen Goranson     goranson@duke.edu