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orion IOU: Magi and Essenes
I forward the following from ioudaios-list, in case it interests some orion
readers not on that list. My apology if a duplicate of this is bothersome
to any subscribed to both.
>Yesterday I read for the first time M. McNamara, "Were the Magi Essenes?"
>Irish Ecclesiastical Record 110 (1968) 305-328. I assume the author is
>Martin McN., the specialist in Palestinian Targumim [has anyone an e-mail
>address for him?]. The article, cited but not discussed in R. Brown, The
>Birth of the Messiah, appears in the final issue of that journal, which I
>assume did not have a large circulation. I write to ask if others have read
>it and whether some of its proposals deserve exploration.
> Of course (and as R. Brown shows) there are contradictions in the
>birth accounts in Matthew and Luke. And midrash is involved. Most
>historians agree that Luke is mistaken in his use of the census under
>Quirinius (perhaps confusing events associated with Herod the Great's death
>in 4/3 BCE with events at the end of Herod Archelaus' rule in 6/7 CE);
>Matthew's dating is preferred.
> Previously I noted Philo (Quod omnis 74, as I read it) compared
>Essenes and Magi and that Strabo, whose lost History I suggested was a
>source on Essenes, compared (in Geo. 16.2.39) those Jews he admired (those
>who did not follow "superstitious and tyrannical priests" such as Alexander
>Jannaeus [perhaps the Qumran "wicked priest"]) with Magi, among others.
> Previously I also asked whether Simon the Essene in Josephus may be
>identical with the contemporary Jerusalem prophet, also concerned with the
>rise and fall of rulers, Simeon in Luke 2; the poetry there has been
>compared with Qumran texts. (Has this suggestion of identity been published
> M. McNamara covers much ground, and I cannot summarize it all here.
>Also, I don't agree with all of it. But he makes interesting observations
>about the end of Herod's life, 7 BCE and ff [should the "ff" go after 7?],
>including sectarian strife, messianic talk, and assassinations. I had
>wondered before whether the destruction at Qumran proposed (persuasively, I
>think, though not all agree) by J. Magness and Y. Meshorer in or, more
>likely, shortly after 9/8 BCE could have an association with Herod's last
> M. McNamara discusses Essene prophecy, Herod and Essenes, Qumran
>prophetic texts (e.g., messianic star imagery), the events of 7 BC, Magi
>and Essenes, astronomy, etc.
> Some Essenes lived East of the Jordan. Might Essenes have had gold
>and incense? In War 2 Josephus juxtaposes Simon the Essene with chaldeans.
>Magi and chaldeans are sometimes compared in other literature (e.g. LXX
>Daniel); magi does not always mean Zoroastrian priests and the like.
> Well then, have others read the article? Would anyone care to
>comment on possible historical elements related to these observations?
>Stephen Goranson email@example.com