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orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis
I'm skeptical that Pliny's referent is either Qumran OR Ein-gedi.
It reads to me like Pliny's Essenes are in a region, not a single
site; that they are inland out of sight of the Dead Sea, not near
the coast; and that they are in large numbers, not a few dozen;
Pliny reads to me as if some villages or farms around Jericho
would make much better sense as the geographical referent.
I don't see any real argument calling for a connection to Qumran
other than the scrolls finds argument.
Three questions in an attempt at clearer thinking:
(1) If it were not for the scrolls finds around Qumran, would anyone
have identified Qumran as the location of Pliny's Essenes? (i.e.
is that an obvious or natural reading of Pliny if no scrolls were
(2) If it were not for the scrolls finds around Qumran, would any
archaeologist have identified Qumran as the location of an
anti-Jerusalem sect? (Referring to 1st BCE Qumran, not Qumran
of c. 8th century BCE.)
(3) are the scrolls in the caves near Qumran--assuming
deposits by people working from Qumran and using jars
from Qumran--sufficient cause, viewed alone, for identifying
the site of Qumran as a flourishing site of habitation of the
authors or owners of the scrolls?
Corollory question 3a: What if both the owners
of the scrolls and the owner of Qumran were living in
Jerusalem? Can this possibility be securely excluded?
If it can't be excluded, what then is truly known?
Also, thanks to Brad Harrison for sensible comments on the
issue of fortifications.
"We have to view Qumran as an integral part of the Hasmonean plan
to settle and fortify the Jordan valley"
-- Amir Drori and Y. Magen, _Jerusalem Post_,
May 6, 1994
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