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Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis
Yes, Greg Doudna, Pliny's text, moving downstream, fits Qumran and
environs and neither Jericho nor Ein Gedi.
I suggest you made a peculiar appeal to authority by quoting the
imperative, "We have to see Qumran as an integral part of the Hasmonean
plan to settle and fortify the Jordan valley," when Drori and Magen have
not yet, to my knowledge, published their data. (The newspaper article
provides no supporting evidence.) Furthermore, most 20th-century readers of
the scrolls find them to be anti-Hasmonean. There is not enough space in
one post to remind you of the deed of gift ostracon, or of the analyses (of
pottery, coins, architecture, burials...) by many other archaeologists who
do not agree with your proposal.
Here is a different quotation, which shows that a learned person
can move to reassess his position. A. I. Baumgarten, "Graeco-Roman
Voluntary Associations and Ancient Jewish Sects," 93-111 in Jews in a
Graeco-Roman World (ed. M. Goodman; Oxford, 1998), p. 107 n. 54: "It is
probable that Pliny's Essenes were the Qumran community. But were they the
same as the Essenes of Philo and Josephus?...." To which one can respond:
consider taking into account the circa 15 BCE dating of M. Agrippa's Judaea
visit vis-a-vis the sources of Philo and Josephus.
Why use one or two aspects of evidence and exclude the rest? While
awaiting a deus ex machina of a massive C14 recalibration which would, in
that one category only, even allow your proposal, why not recall other data
you yourself have discussed? For instance, that there are many hands, as
the cave 4 editors found. Squeezing these hands (and the editorial changes
they recorded) into a small time period and associating them with Sadducees
(though they are not Sadducee) is not plausible. Further, Sadducees may
have been a smaller group than Essenes. Do you really think you have shown
the paleographers err by as much as a century?
Marcus Agrippa is the first source listed for Pliny's book 5. Pliny
(a Roman army veteran) wrote that he prefered to use authors who have been
in the area. (B. Dombrowski refers to this in "Golb's Hypothesis: Analysis
and Conclusions," in Mogilany 1995 [ed. Z. Kapera; Krakow: Enigma Press,
1998], in yet another explanation of why Golb's hypothesis is mistaken.) M.
Agrippa was in the area, a guest of Herod the Great. Many of Pliny's other
listed sources can be excluded, either because they lived at the wrong time
to mention Essenes (in Herodian Judaea, as this text does), or because they
were not in the area, or both. Pliny regarded M. Agrippa with great favor.
In N.H. 7:45-6 Pliny claimed that breech birth is generally a bad omen; but
the exception was the good man Marcus Agrippa.
Of course some scroll owners could have spent some time in
Jerusalem; some most probably did.
It appears that you hold to a fixed idea that Essenes must be
excluded from Qumran text history. But some of these texts tell
us--ineluctably--that they are Essene.
Stephen C. Goranson
"Rereading Pliny on the Essenes"
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