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Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny, M. Agrippa
Evidently, Russell Gmirkin agrees that:
1) Josephus's source on Essenes in Ant. 13 was Strabo, and that
2) Pliny's source on Essenes in Nat. Hist. 5 was from the time of Herod the
Rather than itemizing my disagreements with his recent posts, and rather
than reiterating those criticisms which he has not addressed, let me begin
with these two rather appreciable agreements.
1) Josephus in Ant. 13 drew on Strabo's History for information on Essenes.
Strabo's History followed the History of Posidonius in beginning in 146
BCE, the date when the history of Polybius ended. Posidonius was
interested in religion, philosophy, and ethnography; he had a
well-developed philosophy of history. Strabo greatly admired Posidonius and
quoted him extensively. Josephus discussed Essenes in 146 BCE in his
narrative because his source did. Accepting Strabo as a source here is a
step. Why would Russell Gmirkin so resist the possibility that Strabo,
here, as often, drew on Posidonius? I am not sure. Perhaps because he has
declared that Essenes did not begin until the time of Herod, despite the
evidence of Ant. 13, and the evidence of Judah the Essene and Menahem the
Essene, and of archaeology and of the evolution of the sectarian texts.
Perhaps because he dates some Qumran texts exceedingly early and considers
them pre-Essene and Maccabee-Hasidim-related. In any case, his posts do not
accurately represent my case for Posidonius as a source on Essenes. E.g., I
have not claimed, as Russell's Gmirkin's last post has it, that Posidonius
wrote a separate book on Essenes. As he has noted before, full evaluation
of his dating proposals must await two publications now in press. As for
Posidonius, I welcome more study. In any case, Posidonius as a source on
Essenes has not been shown "baseless," even though Russell Gmirkin has
written such a claim.
2) Russell Gmirkin proposed Nicolaus of Damascus was the source--either
unacknowledged and/or perhaps through M. Agrippa--on Essenes for Pliny. The
date of the book on customs by Nicolaus is not certain, though it may have
been before Agrippa died; nor is it clear that he was then yet working for
Herod; nor is it certain that, if he were, he would have written his text
with Herod more in mind than Essenes; nor is it known if or why Agrippa
would use Nicolaus--I do not recall any such use. But, for conversation's
sake, let's assume it is chronologically possible and that Pliny, who used
M. Agrippa extensively, and listed him first of his sixty sources for book
5, didn't know where this passage came from. Let us also assume that M.
Agrippa, who helped defeat M. Anthony and Cleopatra, for whom Nicolaus had
apparently worked as a tutor, would have had the inclination, and for some
reason the need beyond his own personal knowledge, to use Nicolaus.
Even if we make those allowances, questions remain. Russell Gmirkin
reads Pliny, combined with the later Solinus , as presenting a
date-centered life of Essenes by the Dead Sea. Pliny's source--oddly, if it
were Nicolaus, the presumed date promoter--mentions palms trees but not
Russell Gmirkin implied that part of the War 2 account on Essenes
and at least part of Ant. 18 on Essenes was from Nicolaus. (I am not clear
about whether he suggests Philo, in De Vita Contemplativa 17, on
Therapeutae, citing Homer, was also due to Nicolaus; or whether the number
"more than 4000" Essenes in Ant. 18 and in Philo Quod Probus on Essenes was
also due to Nicolaus; etc.; but I leave all that aside for now.) (And Ant.
18.18 reminds Vermes and Goodman of Ant 13.172 and 1QS 3:13-14:12; but
leave that aside for now.)
But War 2 and Ant. 18 do not locate Essenes by the Dead Sea. War 2
says they live in many places.
On agriculture: Ant. 18 affirms that they work in agriculture, but
dates are not mentioned; "various products of the soil" and "bread and
food" are mentioned. War 2 mentions bread, food and drink, and dishes--but
On what basis would one conclude that War 2, Ant. 18, and (Russell
Gmirkin's interpretation of) Pliny N.H. 5 all come from Nicolaus--or all of
them from any one single source?