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Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis (M. Agrippa)

     Goranson has an unfortunate tendency to overestimate the support of 
secondary literature for his positions.  Menahem Stern does once refer to a 
"main Herodian source."  Goranson apparently places great weight on this 
phrase (despite its implicit acknowledgement of other existing sources).  
Goranson carelessly assumes that the Essene excursus can only belong to this 
Herodian source.  But Stern is a better scholar than to make such an 
unfounded assumption.  Stern nowhere assigns the Essene excursus to this 
Herodian source.  Stern believed the Herodian source was updated by material 
from the Flavian period, as Goranson acknowledges.  Did Stern believe the 
Essene excursus derived from a Herodian Era source?  He never says so.  Might 
Stern have considered it possible that the Essene excursus was a Flavian Era 
addition? This is a distinct possibility, especially since Stern believed 
that En-gedi lying in ruins reflected the situation after the Jewish War, and 
the Essene passage is closely connected with that of Engedi.  
     Stern also contrasts the accounts in Josephus and Philo, in which 
Essenes lived in scattered villages and towns across Judea, with that in 
Pliny.  "From BJ, V, 145, which is a a description of Jerusalem before its 
destruction by Titus, we learn about a gate of the Essenes, which implies the 
existence of an Essene community in Jerusalem.  Presumably, Pliny knows only 
of the Essenes living in the vicinity of the Dead Sea..." (Stern, 479).  This 
juxtaposition seems to hint that Pliny's account reflects the situation after 
the Jewish War (a familiar conclusion in scholarly discussions of the 
passage).  Goranson's superficial reading of Stern overlooks such clues to 
Stern's thinking.  
     That Stern did not advance a firm opinion on the date of the Essene 
excursus suggests he did not perceive evidence of sufficient bearing to draw 
such a conclusion - Stern drew specific dating conclusions wherever possible. 
 Any scholar careful to accurately represent the views of Stern would concede 
that Stern never dates the Essene passage to the time of Herod or excludes a 
Flavian Era context for the same.
     Other scholars have properly distinguished between geographical and 
literary sources behind Pliny's account of Judea - the Essene excursus 
obviously falling into the latter category.  This further cautions us against 
carelessly identifying the source behind the Essene excursus with the 
Herodian [geographical] source.

     Other than defending his reading of Stern as implying a Herodian Era 
date for the Essene excursus, Stephen Goranson failed to respond to any of 
the salient points I raised in my last post.  I will briefly reiterate that 
the passage on the Essenes is incompatible with the many samples of Agrippa's 
commentarii that we possess, and make one last observation.  In Pliny's 
preface, Agrippa is not listed as an authority for book 7 - in contrast to 
books 3-6 on geography.  Dilke, on p. 52 of his chapter on Agrippa in _Greek 
and Roman Maps_ draws the following reasonable conclusion.
     "Book VII of the Natural History is anthropological, and in it Agrippa's 
commentary does not appear, so that it is unlikely to have had any concern 
with descriptions of tribes, which perhaps helps to confirm its concentration 
on mapping."
     Pliny's excursus on the "solitary tribe of the Essenes, which is 
remarkable beyond all the other tribes in the whole world" shows its source 
describes the various tribes of the world and their remarkable customs, and 
contains precisely the sort of ethnological descriptions which Agrippa's 
commentarii omitted.

     Best regards,
     Russell Gmirkin
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