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Re: orion Orion-Essene Debate

At 03:13 PM 10/22/97 +0300, you wrote:

>>The invitation by you and others for silence concerning Essenes
>>is, IMO, not useful for the discussion.  It is useful to hear different

>I would heartily agree with this.

My point, evidently missed, was that we have beat this dead horse long
enough without any resolution because the evidence is so slight.  We can
keep beating it, but nothing new can be added until new evidence surfaces.
If, then, you wish to simply rehash the same issues then thats fine by me;
but there are other things which can be discussed which are not being
considered because the focus is on this evidentially unsupportable issue.

>  I, for one have enjoyed the passionate
>debate over this and other Orion topics and appreciate the input from the
>many scholars that participate regularly.  As far as the debate about Essene
>composition/preservation is concerned I do have a question that I hope will
>generate a response.  The similarities in the initiation processes described
>in CD and in Josephus' rendering of the Essenes have always, in my opinion
>weighed strongly in favor of Essene composition of the scrolls.  Although
>one must acknowledge that there are some differences as well, my question is
>whether or not there is any evidence of a similar intiation process required
>for any of ther other 'schools' (Sadducees, Pharisees, other) of the period
>or if the intitiation process in itself may have been unique to the Essenes.
>Thanks for your consideration.

If it is initiation that you are interested in, and suppose that whoever
practiced initiation by baptism must be connected to the "essenes"- then one
could take that a step further and say that Christians and the authors of CD
are related because they both initiate the same way.

The problem is that such connections of practice do not PROVE connection in
fact!  This is the core of the whole essene problem.  

The authors of CD practiced certain rituals.  Josephus says that the essenes
practiced the same rituals- therefore the essenes must have written CD.
(this is, in brief, S.G.'s argument).

I would suggest that such connections in practice prove nothing at all.  To
reduce the argument to absurdity:
CD describes certain food restrictions, and Leviticus prescribes certain
food regulations; therefore CD and Leviticus are related and the authors of
CD must have been Levites.

>Vernon Chadwick
>Charlotte, NC


Jim West

Adjunct Professor of Bible,
Quartz Hill School of Theology