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Re: orion osiotes & law-observing
Thanks, Robert Kraft, for your comment and expertise on Old Greek Bible. I
would note, though, that Essaioi did not come--not directly at any
rate--from that Greek Bible. And, in any case, C.H. Dodd (The Bible and the
Greeks, 1935, p.62) gives a somewhat different account, here quoted
admittedly with much loss of nuance in the elipses: "The Greek word [osios]
seems to mean sanctioned by divine law....in the Psalter, for example, the
[hasid] is pre-eminently the 'devout' man, whose piety displays itself in
the love for God's law...by the time the translation was made this aspect
of piety [i.e., kindness and mercy] seems to have fallen entirely into the
background. For Hellenistic Judaism the religious man is simply osios,
occupied with religious duties as such."
Philo, I guess we agree, knew no Hebrew: or, more carefully, knew
at most exceedingly little Hebrew or Aramaic (especially Eastern Aramaic).
And the name, most agree, has a Semitic root. He clearly had a source for
the name Essaioi. which also gave the number of over 4000 members, a source
to which Philo added comments.
Translations of Quod Probus 75 vary.
F.H. Colson: "...more than 4000 in number, called Essenes. Their name which
is, I think, a variation, though the form of the Greek is inexact, of
osiotes (holiness), is given them, because they have shown themselves
especially devout in the service of God..."
E.H. Gifford (via Eusebius): "...deriving their name, though not, according
to my opinion, in an accurate form of the Greek language, from holiness..."
K. Kohler: "...according to my judgement, called Essaei, from their
saintliness (though not exactly after the meaning of the Greek language),
they being eminently worshippers of God..."
M. Black: ",...from osiotes, though not as an exact equivalent of the
Greek: the reason for their name is that they are primarily religious
devotees [therapeutai theou]..."
C.D. Yonge: "...who derive their name from their piety, though not
according to any accurate form of the Grecian dialect, because they
are...devoted to the service of God..."
D. Winston: "...Their name, in my opinion, though the form of the Greek is
imprecise...(holiness)...servants of God..."
C.D. Ginsburg: "...from, as I think, an incorrect derivation from the Greek
homonym hosiotes (holiness)..."
G. Vermes/A. Dupont-Sommer: "...although the word is not, strictly
speaking, Greek, I think it may be related to the word 'holiness'..."
G. Vermes: "...This name, though in my opinion the form of the Greek is
inaccurate, is derived from holiness..."
In my opinion (which others may question; see the Colson/Loeb
footnote) #75 begins an example of a group which Philo introduced in #74 as
one in which "deeds are held in higher esteem than words." Then in #91
Essaioi is synonymous with osioi. Both in terms of translation and
transliteration, Hebrew 'asah works better than the Aramaic proposals.
In On the Contemplative life #1, which has also been translated
variously, Philo associates Essenes with the active life, bios praktikos.
Philo's fragmentary Hypothetica, which apparently shares a source
with part of Josephus' Contra Apion 2 (said by Porphyry and Jerome to be
about Essenes) which emphasizes Jews par excellance as law-observant, uses
osiotes twice. Here, the Essenes are Jews par excellence who are disciples
of "our law-giver."
In Quod Deus sit 103 Philo remarks that supersition
(deisidaimonias) is a hindrance to osiotes, translated "holiness" in Loeb.
In Strabo's Geography 16.2.34f passage on Jews, Moses is an admirable
law-giver, though he writes that only a remnant adhere to the laws of
Moses, others being misled by leaders such as Alexander Jannaeus, who are
Stephen Craft Goranson
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