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Re: orion-list Re: self-definition
Some of what you ask has been discussed at length on orion (which has an
archives searchable by keywords), so I'll try to be brief.
1) That Pliny's source locates Essenes at Qumran, c. 15 BCE, with infra as
downstream or south, as good (semipersonified) Jordan River water meanders
before reluctantly emptying into bad Dead Sea water, please try connecting
2) I agree Philo knew little or no Hebrew, though he somehow recognized a
problem with the Greek spelling. One S or two is not, I suggest, the place
to start. Because we already have variant spellings: Essaioi, Esshnoi,
Ossaioi, Osshnoi (and others too, variant ms readings, one C in old
Slavonic, I think, etc.) As I said, VanderKam, Samuel Krauss, and the
Josephus Concordance Name volume (since in other cases--most cases--Hebrew
verbs are translated not transliterated) are useful. The priest brestplate
(spelled defectively at Qumran) appears in Josephus mss (acc. to Krauss and
Isaak Jost) with one and two sigmas. Hassidim and Hasidim are both used
(cf. one sigma in Asidaioi). Esau is spelled differently at Qumran. Was
Essa confused with Gerasa in Josephus? So one S or two appears not to be
not the primary question.
3) What proposal (of the more than 60 proposals) accords with the evidence?
Only Hebrew 'asah. Please see the articles by VanderKam and by me in vol. 2
of DSS after 50 Years, just out. There is too much evidence to survey here,
but includes pre-Qumran recognitions of the source as 'asah (cf., for
instance, Philo on the bios praktikos of Essenes), now realized in texts
recognized as Essene. The Aramaic proposals for healers and pious were so
prominent at the time of first discoveries that William Brownlee, first
translator of pesher Hab, though he noted that the scroll included a
proposed and plausible Essene self-designation, he never asserted this with
confidence: the scroll told us it was Essene!
There is no Aramaic text using those two proposals as outside
naming. (The disputed case in 4QAramaic Levi, VanderKam wrote, is too early
anyway.) Self-designations (later belittled by outsiders--note who would
not accept that name, not abide it, not preserve it for historians) were
more common then, as Albert Bamgarten wrote in his JBL article on
"Pharisees." (Prof. Baumgarten, what do you think, as one learned in
sociologistics: Qumran Hebrew as "anti-language" or, better, resistance or
restoration or remnant language?) It was plain decades ago that the
commnity prefered (also spelled preferred) Hebrew for community documents.
More detailed analyses (by Abegg, Qimron, Schniedewind, Tov, Weitzman and
many others) can help us see how the Essene generic self-designation became
a specific name.
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