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orion Epiphanius & Goranson
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I am posting the following letter from Neil Altman belatedly. It was
some time ago in response to posts on Orion in December and January
concerning the apparent presence of CE Chinese in the scrolls and other
that I raised then and in response to statements by Dr. Stephen Goranson
concerning Altman and his writings.
Frankly, as time passed I questioned whether it was really worth it to
hours necessary to counter Goranson, post and then deal with the return
However, a few new issues have come up, and I thought before we got to
we'd better clear the decks of this cargo just in case Epiphanius, the
and Altman's earlier articles come up again.
I wouldn't be surprised to hear objections to Altman being posted since
not a member, but other non-member writers and researchers are posted here.
And articles bearing Altman's name have been widely published in newspapers
and magazines reaching well in excess of 3 million homes in the U.S. and
Canada since 1992.
Nonetheless, we appreciate Orion's indulgence.
The following letter comes from Neil Altman:
Dear Stephen Goranson and Orion readers,
For the past five months, while we were busy working on an international
that involved hundreds of hours of research, interviews and writing, we had
time to respond cogently to what was taking place on Orion and what was
said about us. Now, in the coming weeks, we are going to deal with the
appropriation of our research, which David Crowder dubbed "The Chinese
Even before we had a chance to publish our research, it was stolen,
and falsely reported on Orion and elsewhere. It was unethical and
unprofessional but only a few of the Orion members said a word. I would
personally thank those who did speak up.
Before getting to the bones we have to pick with Stephen Goranson, I
like to put something else on the table -- that anti-Christianity and
that exists among scroll scholars and in the departments of academic
dedicated to the study of the Bible.
I would like to ask how many members of Orion have Orthodox Jews,
Evangelical Christians or Messianic Jews in their secular religion
raised this question to a secretary at one of the top universities in the
she told me that in 40 years, the department had never had anyone teaching
who fell into one of those three categories.
A senior editor at Baker Book House told me he knew of only five
in secular religion departments in the country.
Can anyone tell me why were Jews kept off the international team until
Or, how many Orthodox Jews are on the team of translators now? If only a
why? Are they not from the strictest sect in Judaism who are messianic in
outlook? Who best to translate and interpret the Dead Sea Scrolls than
who can most identify with them?
Now, Goranson, in going after us, made a number of very incorrect
regarding, among other things, the writings of Epiphanius.
I'm sure he is acquainted with A.F.J. Klijn and G.J. Reinik. and their
book, "Patristic Evidence for Jewish-Christian Sects," published in Leiden
E.J. Brill. Yet on Dec. 31, 1997, Goranson wrote that he had read two of
articles in which I supposedly had made incorrect assertions. He said,
Altman asserted that Epiphanius wrote that the name 'Essene' was used to
designate early gentile followers of Jesus. But that is not so. ..."
Sorry, but it is.
On page 169 of "Patristic Evidence," Klijn and Reinik translate
writing, "All Christians were Nazoreans once. For a short time, they were
also the name Iessaeans, before the disciples in Antioch began to be called
Christians. When they were once called Iessaeans during a short period,
again withdrew at that time after the ascension of the Lord when Mark
in the land of Egypt."
When Goranson said that Epiphanius never mentioned that the
Iessaeans/Essenes were Christians, which I cited in my 1994 article in The
Lutheran, he again painted a false picture.
In that article, I wrote: "Another important clue in the search for the
offered by Athanase Negoitsa in "Revue de Qumran. He writes of a document
Nilus the Ascetic of the 4th century AD that indicates THE ESSENES LIVED
THEN. (Emphasis mine) Nilus praises their 'meditative and lofty moral
he regrets that the Essenes do not follow in the true philosophy of the
"Is there a source that clearly states the Essenes originated in the
period and not before?
"We know from the writings of the Church Fathers that the Jews who
in Jesus were called Nazarenes" and that they kept the laws of Moses and
customs of the Jewish people.
"And we read in Acts of the Apostles (11:26) that the gentiles who
Jesus were called 'Christians.'
"But between the time that the first gentile (Cornelius) believed and
that large numbers of gentiles in Antioch were converted, what name
"I found the following statement in Epiphanius: 'All Christians were
Nazoraeans (Nazarenes) once. For a short time they were given also the name
Iessaeans, before the disciples in Antioch began to be called Christians.'
"... But even Negoitsa doesn't mention Epiphanius' statements about
'Iessaeans.' What is the derivation of this Greek word, and does it have
bearing on Christianity?
"Phillip Comfort, professor of Greek and New Testament at Wheaton
and senior Bible editor at Tyndale Publishing House, states: 'The word
(Iessaeans/Essenes) comes from Iessaios=Jesse, the father of David. The
Christians may have called themselves this because the Messiah was called
Son of Jesse.' "
I think Comfort's statement lends weight and a better understanding to
Epiphanius' statement that the Essenes were a Christian sect.
What I cited is a small part of The Lutheran article, which went into
I will have more to say about Goranson, Epiphanius, red ink, etc.,