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Re: orion Essenes = 'osey hatorah?



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Dear Stephen,
  Ignoring the linguistic argument, your theory that he name Essene derives
from ^—osey hatorah has a few weak points I terms of attestation.  Your main
item of evidence is references to Ossenes/Ossaeans in the Panarion by the
Church Father Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, written about 375 CE, centuries
later even than the earliest rabbinical sources on the minim.  Epiphanius is
notorious for his inaccuracies, especially in regard to the names of groups.
For instance, he refers to the Nasareans and Nasoreans as though they were
separate groups.  Epiphanius refers to distinct groups names Essenes,
Jessaeans, and Ossenes.  The Essenes were an offshoot of the Samaritans.  The
Jesseans, described in a book by Philo [obviously the Essenes!], were a
Christian monastic order named after Jesse, the father of David.  May we not
conclude from Epiphanius that the proper form of Essene is not really
Jessaean?  ;)   And finally we have the Ossenes, referred to at A18, Prl 3.6,
Prl 5.3, sections 19 (all), 20.3.2, 20.3.4, 30.1.3, 30.3.2, 30.17.8, 53.1.3.
The name Ossene allegedly either means a "sturdy people" or "those most
reckless."  They lived in Transjordan in Nabatea, Moab, Perea and Iturea.
They rejected the books of Moses (19.2.1) and were devoted to the writings of
Elxai, founder of the Elcesaeans (Elkasites).  They are closely related to the
Elkasites and the Sampsaeans.  At 20.4 we learn that while the Essenes were
completely extinct, the Ossenes still existed.  The Ossenes clearly do not
resemble the Essenes, and are in fact distinguished from the Essenes by
Epiphanius.   On what basis, then, do you identify the Ossenes as Essenes
other than sheer conjecture? 
  Assuming an identity between the Ossenes and Essenes, it seems rather
extraordinary that the fourth century heresiologist Epiphanius should be given
preference over first century Jewish sources Philo and Josephus, both of
probably had contact with the Essenes, and Pliny, also in the first century.
The older sources are unanimous in calling them Essenes (and even Epiphanius
also attests to that form).
  You suggest that Philo, be deriving the name Essene from the word holy,
^—osios, gives support to the form Ossene.  Others in the list have pointed out
that ^—osios translates hasid, and in 1 Macc. 7:18 the saints (Heb hasidim,
translated here by ^—osios) are taken to refer to the Asidaioi (Hasidim) of
7:13.  This point aside, if Philo was aware of the form Ossene, why does he
never utilize it, even in the passage where he derives "Essene" from ^—osios?
You propose that he was constrained to used the form Essene, which he knew was
improper, due to his literary dependence on some older source that uses
Essene.  This is of course conjecture.  You further conjecture  without
evidence that this hypothetical older source used the term Essene under
influence of the Essenoi priests of Artemis in Asia Minor.
  Your identification of this hypothetical older source on the Essenes as
Poseidonius,  is another conjecture.  The lack of evidence that Poseidonius
knew or wrote of Essenes we need not enter into here (again).  However, your
underlying hypotheses that Philo was a Stoic and that he was influenced by
Poseidonius deserve comment.  The great influence of Poseidonius on later
Stoics (and on Philo) was a thesis of German scholarship early in the century.
Later scholarship has concluded earlier arguments were overstated.  The
decisive role of Poseidonius on Philo has particularly been challenged.  While
Philo cites dozens of ancient sources, in all his writings he never cites
Poseidonius.  You are fond of statistical arguments.  What does this tell you?
Further, Philo^“s alleged Stoicism is no longer assumed in Philo studies.  See
for instance Thomas Billings, _The Platonism of Philo Judaeus_ (NY:  Garland
Publishing, 1979) who shows that while Philo may use Stoic vocabulary, his
argument is often against Stoic positions (especially in regard to
materialism) in favor of Platonism.  
  So in summary it seems to me that every step of your argument is dogged by
conjecture and assumption.  If and since supporting evidence for attestation
of the form Ossene is essentially speculative, then the linguistic argument is
left hanging on thin air.  However, I will grant that your case is cleverly
constructed and well argued, given the drastic paucity of evidence you had to
work with.  
  Best wishes,
  Russell Gmirkin


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