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FW: orion-list 1QS and hellenistic associations

To Greg:

I read with interest the thread of thinking about how much the
Dead Sea Scroll community organization was affected by ...

"hellenistic association rule patterns."  You conclude
with: "Were the Essenes the only ones to have synagogue
membership rules--or just the only ones with surviving
contemporary external description of those rules in some
detail?  Do 1QS and Josephus's Essenes truly have more
specific striking points of contact than that they
both are synagogues?  And if these are simply synagogue-
organization descriptions with variant rules/customs/beliefs 
depending on specific groups, how does one evaluate whether
1QS reflects the same group's synagogues as Josephus's

I can understand the "concern" about the possibilities for 
mis-labeling the DSS community as "Essene" or "Not-Essene."  But
I think we should understand the DSS community ONE of the
groups that make up the "Essene matrix."  And I think it is unwise
to try to seek too much conformity between the Josephus and Hippolytus
portrayals of the Essene community and what we find in the DSS texts.

While there may be differences here and there between Josephus
and the DSS, the similarities between and Josephus (and other
writers) and what we find in the DSS makes it quite clear that
the DSS community (or communities) were well within the Essene
"sect" which Josephus, Pliny, Philo and Hippolytus inform us about.
While some points of organization may not be unique to the Ancient
World in all its diversity, obviously our writers found it unique enough
in the Jewish World to use organizational and initiation forms as one
of the primary ways of distinguishing the Essenes from the Sadducees
and the Pharisees.  

Michael Wise, in his wonderful book, The First Messiah (1999 (c) ),
makes a powerful case for the idea that the ORIGINAL community
behind the Dead Sea Scrolls had collapsed before the beginning of
the "Common Era."  This is NOT to say the Essenes disappeared
at this time.  It just means that some new splinter group or groups 
had re-organized and perhaps promulgated some slightly different
constitutions for organization and operation.  Anyone who reads
modern literature about "communes" would certainly be surprised to
hear that Jewish communes were "perpetual" - - especially during
a time when the Essenes were in high conflict with hostile forces
like the Pharisees and the temple theocracy in a social context where
the power of arms was frequently more decisive than the power of

The Essene treatment by Hippolytus is probably the best one for
most clearly identifying the fact that what was once a SINGLE Essene
group (perhaps Wise's original group) later became divided into at
least FOUR groups of Essenes, which may or may not have allowed
their memberships to recognize and co-mingle with each other.  If the
Essenes were a group built on traditional and secret "codes" or "rituals"
as methods of recognizing each other, it would be a simple matter for
these like-minded groups to have OVER-LAPPING memberships.  This
very pattern would be seen even in places like the New Testament where
followers associated with "zealots" and "sicarii/Iscariot" are clearly seen
as associated with Jesus's "kingdom" organization as well (Hippolytus was
quite unambiguous about labeling the zealots and sicarii as Essene

I guess the point I'm making is that reading the DSS text does NOT leave
a person with the vague possibility that we are reading from the library
of a Sadducee or Pharisee religious library.  And while it is helpful to
try to catalog the small differences between the DSS and known classical
writers, I think it is a mistake to magnify these differences to such a
that we forget how much MORE different classical writers presented
the other "major" Sects.

This whole discussion reminds me of writers who spend considerable
time "proving" that Essenes could not have used Qumran as a location
for living or meeting.  Would some academics feel better if the DSS
texts were written and/or preserved by an Essene body that lived 500
yards distant from Qumran?

George Brooks
Tampa, FL
Contact Email:  George.X.Brooks@JUNO.com 

For private reply, e-mail to "Brooks, George X" <George.X.Brooks@JUNO.com>
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