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orion Greek sources on Essenes
Philo, Pliny, and Josephus used some written sources on Essenes.
(Josephus apparently supplemented with personal experience and hearsay;
Philo may have known Therapeutae.) Previously, I wrote that the Antiquities
13 account on Essenes came to Josephus from Strabo, who drew on Posidonius
of Apamaea, Syria. That Josephus used Strabo in Ant 13 and that Strabo
extensively used Posidonius is well known (e.g., Vermes/Schurer I, 21).
Russell Gmirkin wrote some serious proposals, many of which I found
unpersuasive and wrote why. Unfortunately, he also added some less useful
comments, e.g., characterizing my proposal that Posidonius influenced
Strabo in Geography 16 in a way relevant to study of changes within Judaism
(not presented as "monolithic" [23 March]) and relevant to study of Essenes
and of Qumran manuscripts as an "Essene-under-every-rock approach" [21
March]). My proposal makes no claim about the size and range of Essenes
which differs from the ancient evidence. Orion discussion would benefit
from fewer attacks on straw men.
Without attempting a review of all issues recently raised on
sources, here are a few notes, in case someone on the list finds them
Russell Gmirkin wrote (21 March): "It is a mistake to lump Strabo
[Geo.] 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
If I am not mistaken, RG's posts implied that his analysis agreed
with that of B. Bar-Kochva. Whether RG intended to leave that impression or
not, for the record, for what it's worth, Bar-Kochva, in _Pseudo-Hecataeus,
On the Jews_ (1996) did *not* agree with the quoted analysis. Previously, I
tried to say that it may be more useful to discuss Bar-Kochva's views after
the appearance of his forthcoming book, which will go into this complicated
debate in more detail. But, for now, note that B-K wrote, and note the
number, "...Strabo, who based his version on Posidonius of Apamea
(XVI.2.41)..." (p. 109). Pages 212-213 discuss the proposed use of the
source Posidonius (and Artemidorus) in 2.34, 41-45. There's more; but
that should suffice.
Russell Gmirkin also (on 21 March and earlier) made proposals
concerning the sources of accounts of Pompey's conquest. This subject
apparently also has a complex secondary literature. In case it's worth
noting, here's a view quite different than RG's proposal on the centrality
of Theophanes in this case as a source. Hermann Strasburger wrote in
Journal of Roman Studies 55 (1965) 43: "These passages on the increase of
piracy are so typically Posidonian that the potential authorship of
Theophanes of Mytilene, which, since his history was the most important
source for Pompey's campaigns in the East, could obviously be conjectured,
can be excluded--for these limited passages at least--in all certainty; for
the fragments of Theophanes' work for their part do not show any feature of
a similar kind..."
Several lines of evidence point to Posidonius as a source (via
Strabo) for Josephus. Philo, we know, read Posidonius directly.
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