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Re: orion who says "Essenes"?
Stephen Pfann wrote that Qumranites were Essenes. On that I agree. And
several of his supporting arguments are agreeable. One could modify some
others: e.g., that Josephus used some earlier, written sources; that the
number estimates of Essenes and Pharisees may have different sources; etc.
But in at least one assertion, what Mr. Pfann wrote is, in my view, quite
mistaken. I refer to his assertion that the name "Essenes" (including its
Semitic form?) was created by outsiders and used only by them.
First, more generally, it is unsupported to assert that most
ancient groups were named by outsiders. Since we have little or no
literature directly from Pharisees, Sadducees, or Zealots, it is an
argument from silence to conclude they did not use the Semitic versions of
Albert Baumgarten wrote, in "The Name of the Pharisees" JBL 102
(1983) 423: "...ancient groups, as a rule, took their own names, rather
than receiving derogatory names from outsiders." In this article on the
meaning*s* of this name, a note follows: "The phenomenon of groups getting
names from opponents may be more common in the modern world, i.e., since
the Protestant Reformation..." (Please see the article for context and
Another example of an ancient generic self-description which became
a self -designation (then *also* used by outsiders) is Evionim, Ebionites,
the poor. Later, for example, Origen derided them as poor in mind.
Furthermore, the term "Christianoi" was not necessarily
*originated* by outsiders. The claim in Acts is merely that they were first
called Christians in Antioch. See, e.g., Elias Bickerman, "The Name of the
Christians," HTR 42 (1949) 109-24. This *passive* claim may be critically
evaluated--the place may be likely, but the time may be anachronistic [on
the latter, I disagree with Bickerman].
Also, the myth that the Semitic spelling of Greek forms of
"Essenes"--though, unfortunately widespread (see, e.g., K. H.
Rengstorf)--should be seen as the misleading response it is to the absence
of the two wrong Aramaic guesses (xasayya and 'asayya) which were most
popular when the scrolls were found.
What does S. Pfann list first in "Table 1: List of Essene Virtues"
(in his edition of the sectarian text 4Q298, DJD XX, p. 16)? L'asot emet,
to do the truth.
Qumran self-designations of Essenes as observers of torah show the
Hebrew origins of Greek "Esshnoi/Essaioi, Osshnoi/Ossaiai." This Hebrew
origin has been known to "modern" scholars since at least 1532. It accords
with the evidence, including the disinterest of later rabbinic Jews and
orthodox Christians, who would not be inclined to accept the meaning of the
Stephen Goranson firstname.lastname@example.org