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Re: orion N.Y. Times photo
At 07:31 AM 1/30/98 -0500, you wrote:
>The New York Times, Thurs. 29 Jan., National ed., page A6, printed a photo
>(via Reuters), with no article, but the caption, "An Austere Sect in an
>Austere Land: At the Dead Sea yesterday, archaeologists worked on what they
>say was an Essene village. The Essenes, who lived at the time of Jesus and
>may have written the Dead Sea Scrolls, rigorously observed ritual purity."
This is a nice summary of the problem. If Pliny is describing what Marcus
calls Site B, then we have some evidence of Essene habitation near (above)
Ein Gedi. And if we, just for a moment, divorce Qumran from the scrolls,
what evidence is there that Essenes inhabited the place?
The main problem, it seems to me, is the supposition that the scrolls were
composed or compiled by the folk who lived at Qumran. If anyone can show a
link between Qumran and the scrolls, then I would happily entertain the
Essene hypothosis of Qumran habitation.
But this raises a second problem: can the scrolls really be ascribed to the
I think the Ein Gedi site is more reasonable as the Essene settlement
described by Pliny. This does not imply that Essenes lived elsewhere. But
what evidence is there that they lived at Qumran? That is why I earlier
suggested that the automatic identification of Qumran with the Essenes was
now hearing the bell toll its death.
What the NY Times does is what too many do- they automatically equate the
Scrolls with the Essenes- but this is far from proven.
Best to all,
Jim West, ThD
Adjunct Professor of Bible
Quartz Hill School of Theology