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Re: orion Shanks DSS book
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Dear orion list,
Fred Cryer's response (3 April), quoted below, includes, in my opinion,
some mistaken assertions and some inappropriate language. Here is a
1) Geza Vermes did indeed write study on the etymology of Essenes,
which made important observations, even though I disagree with its
conclusion. It appeared first in Revue de Qumran 2 (1960) 427-43, then, in
slightly expanded form, in his _Post-Biblical Jewish Studies_ (Leiden:
Brill, 1975), pages 8-29. Neither version mentions the etymology from
'asah; so it is false to claim that Vermes refuted it.
2) James VanderKam, in _The Dead Sea Scrolls Today_ pages 91-92
discussed the name "Essene." On p.92 VanderKam wrote: "Another possibility
is that 'Essene' derives from a form of the word 'doers.' It would be an
abbreviated form of a fuller name such as 'doers of the Torah.' If this
explanation of the name is correct, then the word 'Essene' figures quite a
number of times in the Qumran texts and the objection [that the name is
lacking in Qumran mss] falls."
There are several sources of information on Essenes. It is not
circular merely to use more than one source. I hope Fred Cryer does not
extend his rash remarks about "preposterously circular methodology" to
3) An example of inappropriate language: "disingenuous nonsense."
>I have before stated that there no purpose is served by replying to Steven
>Gorensonīs arguments--as indeed many exchanges between him and other
>scholars on this list have shown. Nor do I understand why he is still on
> However, G's claim that "Essene" is well attested in the DSS in the verb
>asah is simpy outrageous, for reasons that were explained about 30 years
>ago by Geza Vermes, and which I reiterated not so long ago on my own hook.
> Stretching an inaccurate philological claim into a very dubious
>identification of "Essenes" in order to make wondrously self-assured claims
>about the nature of the alleged "Essene" theology of one or another work
>found in the caves is preposterously circular methodology. It would be
>meaningful only to someone who in advance of the philological evidence and
>for quite other reasons is convinced that the "Essenes", whoever they were,
>wrote some or all of the DSS. I think we all gather that G thinks this to
>be the case, but it would be nice not to have to be reminded of it so
>frequently by such disingenuous nonsense as today's post contains.