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The literature on Yosippon is complex, so I may have missed something
relevant, but I don't understand how Russell Gmirkin's proposals on Essenes
and Yosippon cohere. If I recall correctly, RG wrote that there is no
evidence for Essenes before Herod's time. Recently (19 Apr), he proposed
that the writer of Yosippon may have been informed by a lost Greek text of
Nicolaus of Damascus that Greek for "Essenes" could be "translated" (with
an interim Aramaic step?) as "Hasidim." I have disputed the first assertion
and doubt the second. But, even if one accepts these, their juxtaposition
If one proposes that Essenes equal Hasidim and regards the Asidaioi
of 1,2 Maccabees as historical, how then can one claim that Essenes did not
predate Herod? (Yosippon also credits Judah.) Is there evidence that the
tenth-century writer of Yosippon read Greek? BZ Wacholder raised the
question in his 1962 book on Nicolaus, but D Flusser concluded Yosippon
used Latin sources for Josephus and Maccabees. Flusser's edition is
1978-80; he contributed an essay in LH Feldman & G Hata ed, Josephus,
Judaism and Christianity (1987). LH Feldman in Josephus and Modern
Scholarship (1984) 69: "...we may respond, there is no indication that
Nicolaus was still extant in southern Italy in the tenth century; and, in
any case, if he did know Greek he should have betrayed this in such matters
as his transliteration of proper names, which he does not."
Is it likely that the history of Nicolaus would convey such a
"translation" claim to the tenth-century Yosippon writer but not to
first-century Josephus? S Zeitlin considered the name in JQR 1954-5, but he
insisted Yosippon was an ancient text; few agree today. Is Yosippon's
exclusion of "Essenes" a sign that he relied more on Maccabees and rabbinic
literature than on Josephus' source on Essenes? Yosippon illustrates the
writer's lack of knowledge about Essenes. Other texts, including Stoic
ethnographies, heresiologies, and of course, the ancient ms
self-designations in precisely the sectarian Qumran texts (serek, pesharim)
are more telling. Azariah dei Rossi, a sixteenth-century reader of Philo
and Josephus and corrector of Yosippon on Essenes, pointed to this doubtful
etymological proposal, but contributed to another Aramaic one ("healers").
JJ Scaliger also criticized Yosippon's history but helped obscure the
etymology and wrongly ridiculed as hallucination Melanchthon's
understanding that Essene was from 'asah.
Even though I consider Yosippon a case of misunderstanding of
Essenes, I'd be interested if someone responds to Basil Lourie's inquiry.
Murad Kamil's Ethiopic edition (1937 and 1938 editions in Germany and NY?)
is not in the Duke library.
Shulamit Sela has an interesting article in Genizah Research after
Ninety Years: The Case of Judaeo-Arabic, ed J. Blau and S. Reif (Cambridge
UP 1992) on a Josippon genealogy fragment from the Cairo Geniza (which,
inter alia, notes the speculaion on the Qur'an spelling of Jesus, 'Isa, in
relation to Esau; see new Encyc. of Islam IV: 81); apparently, her PhD
dissertation (Tel Aviv Univ. 1991) deals with Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic
versions of Josippon.
Stephen Goranson email@example.com Durham, NC