[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion Solinus, Dio, Pliny, M. Agrippa

  Steven Goranson tries to revive a number of issues already fully discussed
in the Orion archives.  Hence I'll be selective in my responses.

>  	How M. Agrippa learned of Essenes is no big mystery: he visited
>  Judaea (including Jerusalem and many other places) as governor of Syria and
>  guest of Herod, in 15 BCE, as already noted. Additionally, he may have read
>  the History of Posidonius.

  You are assuming what needs to be demonstrated, namely that Posidonius wrote
on the Essenes (which he did not).  
  Also, I have now studied all M. Agrippa fragments found in Pliny (namely NH
3.8, 16, 37, 86, 96, 150; 4.45, 60, 77, 78, 81, 83, 91, 98, 102, 105, 118;
5.9-10, 40, 65, 102; 6.3, 37, 39, 57, 137, 139, 164, 197, 206-7, 208-9).  In
all cases, Agrippa is cited for distances, dimensions, occasionally political
boundaries (from his notes as a map-maker).  There is not a _single_ instance
where Agrippa relates material of ethnological interest such as the passage on
the Essene lifestyle.  (Dilke's comments on M. Agrippa in _Greek and Roman
Maps_ are consistent with my comments.) Hence I completely withdraw my
previous support for your proposal that Pliny draws on Agrippa for the
Essenes.  Pliny may draw on a Herodian Era source on Judea (more specifically,
on the Judean toparchies), but his source on Essenes - not M. Agrippa - still
remains an unsolved problem IMO.

>  	M. Stern, on the page cited (I, 264) wrote that the account of
>  Moses in Strabo "recalls that of Hecataeus." Not, as Russell Gmirkin may
>  have led some to believe, that the whole account is merely Stoicized
>  Hecataeus. 

    The passage I cited, from Strabo Geo. 16.2.35-39, and widely acknowledged
to derive from Posidonius, is merely Stoicized Hecataeus.  If you won't read
Bar-Kochba on this point, or the sources cited by Stern, try reading Hecataeus
and Strabo side by side.  The sequence of topics is identical, and where
Strabo differs from Hecataeus, he reflects Stoic ideology.  This passage
appears to represent the sum total that Posidonius wrote on the Jews.  

>  Hecataeus, having been dead for quite some time, would have had
>  difficulty writing about Alexander Jannaeus. As to the passage in Strabo,
>  Geography 16.2.34-46, I have already discussed the fact that Alexander
>  Jannaeus is described as superstitious and tyrannical. A remnant of Jews
>  did not follow him. Qumran Essene manuscript descriptions are available, to
>  compare perspectives.

    A "remnant of Jews" did not follow Jannaeus?  I read in Josephus that the
"nation" revolted from him. 
    It is a mistake to lump Strabo 16.2.35-39 (the Posidonius fragment)
together with 16.2.40-46 (which contains criticisms of Jannaeus and his sons
and an account of Pompey's conquest).  The latter material doesn't derive from
either Hecataeus or Posidonius - or the Essenes! - but from a later,
independent source dealing with Pompey's conquest of Jerusalem and
adjudication of the rival claims of Aristobulus II, Hyrkanus II, and the
remnants of the former gerousia.  My analysis shows that the accusation of
Jannaeus and his sons of tyranny in making themselves king (in Strabo and
elsewhere) comes from the delegation of 200 aristocrats that appeared before
Pompey with these identical sentiments, requesting that neither son be
confirmed as king but that power be restored to the gerousia.  This same
group, dominated by Pharisees, appear to have been behind the earlier national
revolt against Jannaeus that temporarily ousted him as king.  Later this group
obtained (or rather regained) some measure of power under Salome Alexandra.  I
have several lines of evidence pointing to Theophanes of Mytilene, Pompey's
historian, as the source who first wrote about the gerousia's official
criticisms of Jannaeus and his sons before Pompey; drawing on Theophanes,
these criticisms were reproduced by Diodorus Siculus (40.2.1-13), Strabo, and
Josephus (Ant. 14.41 - who draws on Strabo and/or Nicolas of Damascus here;
cf. Ant. 14.104).  I see no merit in your conjecture that the criticism of
Jannaeus (and his sons!) in Strabo derives from some hypothetical "Qumran
Essene (sic)" source, as though the Dead Sea Scrolls community were the only
Jewish group critical of Jannaeus, or as though Strabo had access to Essene
materials.  This sort of Essene-under-every-rock approach does not help your
general argument, IMO.
    Best wishes,
    Russell Gmirkin