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orion infra Essenos
Dear orion readers,
Solinus wrote (soon after 200 CE?) "infra Essenos," i.e.,
downstream (or south or further along) from the Essenes was, formerly, the
town of Ein Gedi. Pliny wrote "infra hos." Solinus and Pliny shared a
source. Any translation which suggests that the object of Pliny's infra is
shore or shores appears to be unlikely.
The Loeb translation can reasonably be criticized for the ambiguous
rendering of "infra" as "below." Rackham can also be reasonably criticized
for adding the word "exhalations." It is not exhalations or vapors or fumes
which the Essenes avoided, but the water itself. The Asphalt Lake water was
already clearly contrasted with examples of good water earlier in the text.
Furthermore, the immediately following text, on the Decapolis, includes
four notations of water, which are variously described either neutrally or
as explicitly good. In context, what is noxious is clearly identified as
the Asphalt Lake water. If, on Sigrid Peterson's translation, what is
noxious is ritually impure things, this is nowhere made clear by Pliny, or
his source, M. Agrippa.
Pliny, Solinus, and Dio describe Qumran. They do not describe Dr.
Hirschfeld's site. Pliny and Solinus describe the Essenes from the time of
Herod the Great.
For further data confirming that Pliny frequently did not update
his source, in contrast to what many of us--including me until last
year--had thought, see "Appendix I: Pliny," in _The Cities of the Eastern
Roman Provinces_ by A.H.M. Jones (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971), 2nd edition
(and presumably in the 3rd.)
Those of us on this list could really advance knowledge of Essenes,
Qumran, and Dead Sea Scrolls. Efforts to deny overlap among these subjects,
in my opinion, is not advancing our knowledge.