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Re: orion not either/or



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It┤s strange how useless this word "Essene" becomes in the mouths of its
various proponents, because in reality they mean quite different things by
it, so the term becomes elastic and covers everything from an assumed small
sectarian group situated on the Dead Sea to the largest movement within
proto-Judaism (Hartmut Stegemann). I wonder why this so-homogeneous group
wrote and / or perpetuated the copying of text in 1) Biblical Hebrew 2)
Late Biblical Hebrew 3) Qumran Hebrew 4) proto-Middle Hebrew 5) Biblical
Aramaic 6) late Aramaic, and 6) Greek. And why did they do so in archaic
script, Hasmonaean script, Herodian script, palaeo-Hebrew script in a
variety of both cursive and semi-formal hands, and, moreover, why they did
so using 1) "Biblical" orthography 2) late "Biblical" orthography 3) Qumran
orthography and scribal practice, and, finally, I wonder why, of
approximately 80,000 fragments of text, resolving into roughly 850
documents, literally *none* of these can be claimed to be autographs. So
this group of "Essenes" is reduced to a copyist┤s sweatshop...quite apart,
of course, from the chronological difficulty pointed to recently by a
number of scholars, namely the fact that the documents seem to be a bit
older than previously supposed. This moves them back into the 1st century
bce, and far away from all the known references to "Essenes". (And,
incidentally, no amount of hemming and hawing about the alleged "sources"
Pliny may plausibly be assumed to have used can transform Pliny from a
secondary to a primary source).
All of these issues have to be addressed by "Essene" proponents, and, to my
knowledge, only Stegemann does so by transforming the little sect of Pliny
and Josephus into a huge movement: a tactic that then naturally leaves one
wondering why Judaism and, for that matter, nacent Christianity, have no
record of it...

Frederick H. Cryer
Assoc. Prof. for Research
Univ. of Copenhagen
Faculty of Theology
K°bmagergade 44-46
1150 K°benhavn K.
e-mail: fc.dss@pop.teol.ku.dk
fax: (045) 35 32 36 52