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orion heritage: Jewish, Christian, Chinese?
Some notes on Jewish, Christian, and "Chinese" heritage:
On 28 Aug I noted some factual errors in publications by Neil
Altman. David Crowder wrote as if these were not simple historical errors.
Another plain example: in The Lutheran, April, 1994, p. 30, Altman wrote,
"The fact that Epiphanius calls them [the 'Ossaeans'] a 'heresy' suggests
that they had a Christian background." This is false. Epiphanius (in
Panarion) explicitly listed Ossenes, heresy 19, as a Jewish group, which
began before Herod and Jesus. Epiphanius did write of their later mixing
with other groups, including Christian heresies. David wrote, in effect,
that he cannot defend many of Altman's assertions, but he still promotes
the idea of a Chinese and Christian connection. Christian influence is,
chronologically, possible in some of the texts--and I, myself, am
interested in Christian origins and Christian history--but, so far, I see
no evidence of Christians at Qumran. I don't mind, e.g., if scholars look
for NT copies in cave 7, but they have not, IMO, made a persuasive case. I
think we need to be careful about reading Christians into Qumran. Similarly
for Chinese: the case does not appear to me persuasive, so far. As a
private correspondent noted (and offered that I repeat) the 1QS "god" marks
appear to be more complex versions of other marginal (sectional?) marks in
1QS. To make a case, one might address, e.g., E. Tov's comments in
"Scribal Practices..." in the M. Haran Festschrift, Texts, Temples, and
Traditions..., ed. M. V. Fox 1996 p 383-403, esp. 398-9.
Again, I am interested in Essene influence in later Christianity
(e.g., I wrote on Essene influence in Apoc of John in the IOQS Joseph
Baumgarten volume, Legal Texts, Legal Issues, Ed. M. Bernstein, F. Garcia
Martinez, J. Kampen, Brill,1997). And I oppose, on the other hand,
minimalist views such as those of Joan E. Taylor and N. Golb. E.g., John
the Baptist may well have had Essene contacts before Christianity. One
reason I repeat that 'Essene' comes from 'asah as used at Qumran, is, of
course, because I am persuaded it is true. (The widespread mistake, found
in many books, that their self-designation does not appear in the scrolls
has really hampered scholarship.) But, also, I think the recognition would
help would help us sort out the history. There are so many misconceptions.
For instance, there are several in the first paragraph of Norman Golb's
"The Qumran-Essene Hypothesis: a fiction of scholarship" Christian Century
Dec 9, 1992, p. 1138. Besides the falsity of the title, the paragraph:
obscures Philo on Essenes and monasticism; gets the number estimate wrong
and asserts a date which is questionable; writes of "important literary
traditions" in a confusing way; writes of "heroes" and consequences in
[all?] Christian views that they "directly" influenced "the earliest
Christians." If you think I'm mistaken, please read the paragraph. Not a
good place to begin for history-writing.
There is much still for us all to learn, no doubt, about the Jewish
writers of these texts. *One* consequence, IMO, is *some* influence on
*some* later Christians.
Finally, I'm not quite sure why this arises in my mind--a phrase
from William Blake, the amazing poet, perhaps bizarre as well. Maybe it
has to do with limits of archaeology, though I'm interested in archaeology.
Blake once admired the works of E. Swedenborg. Then he changed his mind.
Note also, in this phrase, for what it's worth, he probably did *not* have
in mind the Turin Shroud; and it's not my point to comment on Swedenborg.
Anyway, in case it is of interest, Blake wrote that, however good
Swedenborg, others wrote far beyond him. Swedenborg's writings, to Blake,
were "the linen clothes folded up."
Stephen Goranson email@example.com