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Re: orion re: "Damascus"
A little bibliography:
Joseph Baumgarten, in his edition of 4QDamascus (DJD XVIII, 1996)
pages 9-10, lends some cautious support, via legal analysis, "in favour of
the literal interpretation" of "The Land of Damascus."
Santos Sabugal, "La Mencion neotestamentaria de Damasco (Gal 1,17
[...etc....]) ciudad de Siria o region de Qumran?" in M. Delcor, ed. ,
Qumran: sa piete, sa theologie et son milieu (Louvain conference; pub.
Paris, 1978) 403-13 is a fairly detailed attempt to locate Paul at Qumran.
My two cents: Qumran being called "Damascus" appears unlikely to
me; Paul visiting Qumran-as-"Damascus" appears even less probable; and T.
Simm's addition of Jesus and "psychotropic substances" to the
reconstruction, further improbable.
While there are chronological problems in comparing Acts and Paul's
letters, neither a shared geographic confusion nor a shared theological
motive to mislead about geography provides any ready explanation for a city
of Damascus and Qumran switch.
If we accept that Paul was from Tarsus and went to Arabia
(presumably east of the Jordan), locating him for a long stay in the city
(not "the land of") Damascus, north of Jerusalem, does not strain
Also, if Essenes felt the need to flee to an exile out of the land
of Judah "to the land of Damascus," the distance involved is not
reasonably interpreted only as a matter of convenience. And, if we can
roughly accept the sketch(es) of Qumran history by some of the
archaeologists given in Jan/Feb BAR Jan/Feb, it may be worth considering
that a small group of Essenes at Qumran may not have been threatening to
Alexander Jannaeus, but that, during one of his trans-Jordanian campaigns,
he pursued the teacher of righteousness (Judah, IMO) and his group in the
"land of Damascus."