[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

orion-list Alexander Jannaeus's site Qumran (was 1QS and Hellenistic associa tions)

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "ISO-8859-8" character set]
    [Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]

George X. Brooke (not the George Brooke of Manchester, 
England) wrote:

> 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
While your points are well taken concerning the possibility of 
groups breaking up, reforming, splitting into variants, mutating 
their rules, etc. such that the Scrolls could well be within the 
rubric of "Essenes" who may not be the monolithic order as 
portrayed in the classical descriptions, the question is whether 
there are positive grounds to know this line of possibility is 
indeed the case.  Here you reject the Sadducee possibility 
out of hand.  But in this you are rejecting something about which 
there are no acknowledged firsthand texts with which to compare.
The same arguments concerning 1st century CE Sadducees 
being mutations or developments different from, say, "sadducees" 
of the 1st century BCE might apply as you have argued in making 
the case for the Essene identity.  Consider that Josephus's major 
source for the late Hasmonean era, Nicolaus of Damascus, seems 
to have written the history of this period in terms of a Sadducee 
(pro-Hasmonean, except for Hyrcanus II) versus Pharisee (anti-
Hasmonean) schema.  (I know this schematic is disputed to
various degrees by Le Moyne, Efron, and others, but although 
Josephus's account contains lacunae, I think this scheme as 
underlying Josephus's extracted history seems surely to be the 
case.  Whether the scheme is historically accurate is of course 
a distinct issue.)  What if analysis of a possible "Sadducee" 
identity with the "yachad" texts of the scrolls was done solely 
on the basis of what can reasonably and soundly be reconstructed 
from Josephus's late-Hasmonean source?  (i.e. in terms of method, 
exclude all later Sadducee descriptions as unreliable and 
anachronistic for an understanding of late-Hasmonean era 
sadducees, unless proven otherwise.)  One might come up with 
something like this, for starters, concerning the Sadducees:

(i) pro-Alexander Jannaeus
(ii) anti-Pharisees 
(iii) anti those who opposed Jannaeus and supported Demetrius III

This sounds more than a little like the Qumran texts to me, 
most of which are from the same time; which were found at 
a site built by Alexander Jannaeus; and which among their 
texts contain a hymn favorable to Alexander Jannaeus by 
name.  (This is reading the first two words of the relevant line 
in 4Q448, with Wise, as a defaced ShYR QDSh, rather than
'YR.)  Another Qumran text, 4QpNah, explicitly condemns 
Jannaeus's enemies and (when they are later in power) 
wishes them destruction (3-4 i 2; 3-4 ii 4-6).  This is prima 
facie a striking correspondence in tendez between the Qumran 
texts and Josephus's late-Hasmonean-era Sadducees.  No 
Qumran text is demonstrably in conflict with the pro-Alexander 
Jannaeus tendenz which is explicitly attested in the texts 
found in the caves next to Alexander Jannaeus's site, Qumran.  

Therefore I don't think a direct "Sadducee" identity, in the sense 
of Josephus's source's late-Hasmonean era Sadducees, can be 
rejected out of hand.  As for the Essenes, it is true that they are 
said to live by the thousands in eastern Judea, and that Alexander 
Jannaeus's Qumran settlement also is in eastern Judea.  But this 
does not mean that Alexander Jannaeus's Qumran settlement 
was staffed by Essenes instead of Jannaeus's own supporters, 
who were partly women, and who should not be assumed to be 
any less religious or interested in texts.  A Qumran-Essene 
identity does not logically follow simply because Pliny locates 
his thousands of Essenes in east Judea, and Qumran is also 
in east Judea.  Perhaps instead of Essenes Qumran should be 
identified instead with the supporters of the builder of the site, 
Alexander Jannaeus.  I think it should be investigated whether 
what are known as "Essenes" in some accounts are known as 
"Pharisees" in other accounts, i.e. the true distinction in the 
late Hasmonean era could really, at root, be a clash between 
expanding temple-mandated rule ("Sadducees") and native 
custom, the popular leaders of which are known in Josephus's 
account of the late-Hasmonean era as "Pharisees".  (On
Pharisees as reflecting popular, ancestral tradition see M. 
Goodman's interesting "A Note on Josephus, the Pharisees, 
and ancestral tradition", JJS 50 [1999]: 17-20.)  The Essenes
then, instead of having anything to do with Sadducees, might
be some variant of the Pharisee movement, and any similarities 
between the 1st century CE Essene descriptions and the 
Qumran texts of a century earlier might be purely coincidental.
Just a thought.  

Greg Doudna
For private reply, e-mail to Greg Doudna <gd@teol.ku.dk>
To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to majordomo@panda.mscc.huji.ac.il with
the message: "unsubscribe Orion." For more information on the Orion Center
or for Orion archives, visit our web site http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il.