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Re: orion Yosippon

    Stephen Goranson is quite naturally a strong advocate for his own proposed
derivation of Essene from 'asah.  But he overstates the certainty of this
derivation and dismisses other proposals, including that deriving Essene from
Hasidim.  I don't think either proposal can be considered proven, but the
derivation of Essene from Hasidim has much in its favor, which SG seems
unwilling to acknowledge.
    In regards to the persistence of Nicolas of Damascus in the tenth century,
and in what form, this is of course a difficult subject with many unresolved
side-issues.  Nevertheless the facts remain that Yosippon claims to draw on
Nicolas, and certain of ND's biases appear to surface in Yosippon.  These
facts constitute prima facie evidence that Yosippon utilized Nicolas (whether
via an intermediate source or in what language remains uncertain).
    A second fact is that Yosippon lists the three Jewish sects as Pharisees,
Sadducees, and Hasidim.  It is apparent that Yosippon equated the Hasidim and
the Essenes.  I offered the suggestion that Yosippon may have somehow derived
this equivalence from Nicolas.  This is a suggestion only.  I would love to
hear a more convincing explanation.  Stephen has offered no insights of why
Yosippon wrote Hasidim for Essene.  Is he suggesting that Yosippon knew of the
Hasidim from reading Maccabees or rabbinic literature, and therefore
substituted Hasidim (a known group) for Essene?  I would not want to
misrepresent SG's on the matter, but if this is the extent of his explanation,
then at least it shows Yosippon saw a philological connection between the two
that Goranson dismisses.
     As for how a derivation of Essene from Hasidim relates to my
understanding of these two groups, I believe the Essenes (and probably the
Sadducees as well) revered and utilized the older literature of the Hasidim,
which IMO included some of the Enoch literature, Jubilees, and many of the
"sectarian" compositions including 1QM, CD, 1QS, etc.  The Essenes, for whom
certain evidence begins in the time of Herod the Great, may have considered
themselves the spiritual heirs of the Hasidim and adopted that name.  It is
very naive to assume a linear continuity between the two groups and conclude
that the Essenes were the _actual_ remnants of the Hasidim, even if this was
the Essene claim.  As an illustration only, one might point to the hundreds of
churchs that adopt the name and use the literature of the early
Christians/Nasoreans, but who many would agree have no linear physical descent
from the groups that authored that literature.  Similarly, the Essenes and
perhaps other Jewish groups may have claimed to have carried on the spiritual
traditions of the heroic Hasidim whose literature continued to be studied and
admired long after the 160s BCE.

    Russell Gmirkin