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Thanks to Bob Kraft, V. Mair, and Jay Treat. I don't know Chinese, and the
hypothesis seems questionable so far, but I'll sit back and be interested
to hear more informed views.
As the to Magi, it may be of interest to note that Philo, Every
Good Man is Free 74 may be relevant. But note, there is some difficulty in
the text, as discussed in a note in the Loeb edition. As I read it, Philo
compared Essenes with other groups for whom deeds [cf. 'asah] are more
important than words. Those other groups are the Magi of Persia and the
Gymnosophists of India. Strabo also mentions these two groups in his
discussion of the Jews and Moses in Geography 16.2.39.
Questions on the degree of historicity of the Gospel of Matthew ch. 2,
which mentions Magi, have been, to understate, discussed and present
various problems. I think more than one author had a hand in Matthew. I do
think we have some relevant data about Herod the Great. I think Alla
"Another Look at Josephus' Evidence for the Date of Herod's Death, Scripta
Classica Israelica 14 (1995) 73-86 made a good case that Herod died in the
winter of 4/3 BCE and not before passover 4 BCE. If so, that would affect
the time of the uprising, crushed by Varus. J. Magness and Y. Meshorer have
made a good case IMO that Qumran was destroyed sometime from the year 8 BCE
to a few years later, say about 3 or 2 BCE or so. We have reports that
Herod favored Essenes. But at the end of his life, he turned against
various people he had previously favored, notably including family members.
Is it possible that Matthew preserves an echo of history in that the
destruction of Qumran might have been part of a larger effort by Herod to
remove those he then mistrusted? Later Herodian rulers, perhaps, continued
this disinclination towards Essenes. E.g., *if* one considers that John the
Baptist had been associated with the Essenes before he took off on his own,
his death ordered by Herod Antipas in Peraea might be part of a longer-term
change in policy. And maybe some Essenes might have been interested in some
views of some magi. Or, someone else, such as Herod the Great, might have
thought, rightly or wrongly, that they would have had some interest.