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Re: orion etymology of essene

    Here is a review of Goranson's proposal in John Kampen in _The Hasideans
and the Origin of Pharisees_ (Scholars Press, 1988) 155-56.

    "A recent proposal by Stephen Goranson in _Revue de Qumran_ [11 (1984)
483-98], previously mentioned by Brownlee, merits mention.  The suggestion is
that the terms under discussion are derived from the Hebrew verb _'asah_ (do),
a well-attested term in the scrolls from Qumran.  While he is certainly
correct in pointing out the importance of the verb in some Qumran writings,
for example in 1QpHab 8:1 which speaks of _kol 'osey hattorah_ (all who do the
law), we do not find evidence of its use as a name, i.e., as a proper noun, as
we do for example with regard to the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Tannaitic
texts.  While we find in the documents the use of the verb primarily in its
participial form _'osey_ to describe the members of the sect, it is not clear
that this term is as central a self-designation as some other phrases such as
_'anshey hayyahad_ (men of the Commune).  Furthermore, an etymological
explanation utilizing the term _'osey_ is more likely for the forms _Ossaioi_
and _Ossenoi_ attested in Epiphanius than it is for those forms found in
Josephus and Philo.  The evidence linking _'asah_  with essene also fails to
be convincing."

    For the benefit of lurkers, I'll also quote his discussion of Hasidim ->
Essene, p. 156.

    "The most broadly accepted hypothesis concerning the etymology of
_Essenoi_ and _Essaioi_ considers these terms to have been derived from the
Hebrew _hasydym_ (Pious) via its Aramaic form.  The theory is that the Greek
_Essaioi_ is a transliteration of the Aramaic _hasayya'_, the determined
plural form, and _Essaenoi_ of _hasyn_, the absolute plural.  This hypothesis
finds support in Philo's repeated suggestion that _Essaioi_ is related to
_hosios_, the Greek term which is usually employed to translate _hasyd_ in the
LXX.  However, as Vermes and others have pointed out, the Aramaic term is
attested primarily in Syriac and there is no evidence of it in Palestinian

    Steve Goranson expressed puzzlement that the derivation of Essenes from
Hasidim has been considered attractive by so many scholars.  One basic
consideration is that from 1/2 Macc. we definitely know of a historical group
known as the Hasidim.  If the term Essene derives from a Hebrew designation
for some Jewish sect or association, it seems reasonable to suggest this was a
known group, the Hasidim, rather than some purely hypothetical group, the
"Doers," unattested by that name in any external historical source.  This
coupled with the link between _Hasidim_ (Pious) and _hosios_ (holy) will make
the Hasidim->Essene derivation perpetually attractive.  (It is worth noting
that the Hasidim (Asidaioi) are expressly linked with the _hosios_ at the
pesher on Ps. 79:2-3 found at 1 Macc. 7:16-17.)  
    Also, one may point out that in Yosippon, the Greek term "Essene" is
translated back into Hebrew by the term "Hasidim."  This fact at least calls
for explanation, considering that Josephus (as I recall) omits all mention of
the Hasidim.  Perhaps the author of the Yosippon obtained the equation of
Essene and Hasidim from Steve's nemesis, Nicolas of Damascus, whom Yoippon
refers to several times as a major source.  It is true, Yosippon is late --
even later than Steve's oft-quoted Epiphanius -- but at least relatively
ancient external source, and a Jewish one at that, expressly supports an
equation of Essenes and Hasidim, which is one more than can be cited in
support of the Essenes as "Doers."
    (By the way, is it known when Flusser's recent critical edition of
Yosippon will be published in English?)

    Russell Gmirkin