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Re: orion Essenes = 'osey hatorah?
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First, let me apologize for my inaccurate statement that you claimed that
"Philo was a Stoic." I wrote my last posting on my laptop, away from my
office and documents I should have reviewed before sending my email. You were
right to take me to task for misrepresenting you on that point.
Since you have seen fit to respond mainly regarding the Ossenes in
Epiphanius, I will confine my reply to same.
First, the Ossenes were clearly of Jewish origin. Epiphanius indicates
they originated in pre-Christian times (19.5.6). As you pointed out from
19.15.1, they kept "the Jewish life in Sabbath observance, circumcision, and
the keeping of the law." However, they are also portrayed as "forbidding the
books <of Moses> like the Nasaraeans" (19.15.1, continuing the quote; the
Nasaraeans were Jews who kept all Jewish customs but for sacrifices, but
claimed that Moses did not author the Pentateuch [18.1.4]), and also "accepted
other writings in addition to the law, though they rejected most of the
prophets who came afterwards" (Abstract 15.18, which, though perhaps not by
Epiphanius, nevertheless contains comparable information). Further, according
to Epiphanius they had succumbed to the heresy of the Elkesites (Sampseans).
This is immediately relevant to your equation of Essene with "doers of the
law." Even if the Ossenes had once observed Jewish customs, would they have
retained the name Ossene after rejecting the Torah and adopting Elkesite
Your comment that the Ossenes "lived near the Dead Sea" is quite
misleading. Epiphanius says that they lived "in Nabatea and Iturea, Moab and
the country around Areopolis, the regions lying *over and beyond* what the
Holy Scripture calls the ^—salt valley^“; this is what is called the Dead Sea"
(19.1.2). At 53.1.1. this same region (where the Sampseans also lived) is
described as "the country called Perea, on the *far side* of what is called
the Salt or Dead Sea, <and> in Moab near the Torrent Arnon and beyond in
Iturea and Nabatea." Perea was of course an ancient equivalent of our
"Transjordan", and the "salt valley" is the Arabah. Moab and Arnon are of cou
rse beyond but adjacent to the Dead Sea. Epiphanius could not be more clear.
All the locations Epiphanius lists are in Transjordan, east of the Dead Sea,
not west where the Essenes dwelt (per Pliny).
Responding to George X. Brook^“s query, it is Epiphanius who portrays the
Essenes as an extinct branch of the Samaritans. (14.2.1 also mistakenly
traces the Sadducees to the Samaritans.) Epiphanius is clearly not drawing on
Josephus or any other known literary source. Yet he accurately preserved the
name Essene here. This is a fact that calls for explanation, the simplest one
being that Essene is the proper form of the name.
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