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Re: orion-list Leo's Objections - Essenes, Zias article, etc.
George B wrote:
> If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a
> duck ... it IS a duck. What's the point of saying they could be
> documents from some FRINGE Pharisaic group that is SO
> extreme that they act/look JUST LIKE ESSENES? The point of
"Just like"? Hardly. By the usual interpretation, this group had
separated and lived apart from everyone else, but Josephus says
Essenes lived in every city. The probation period for Josephus'
Essenes was 3 years, but in 1QS it's 2 years. This is just to name
a couple. There are many more objections to the Essene
hypothesis than the ones you listed, and in truth they're quite
telling. The temptation in this situation, as in most such situations
where something completely new comes to light, is to identify the
unknown with something already known. The Essenes seem at
first blush to be the most likely known that fits into what we know
from the sectarian documents, so we grab onto that and say they
must have been Essenes. But really, was the picture as simple as
Josephus made it? I doubt it. I suspect this sect, if such there
actually was, was little more than one of many fringe apocalyptic
groups that wandered off and did their own thing. They need not
have been pharisaic, sadducean or essenic; really, the supposedly
distinctive features of them that we see from the sectarian material
is nothing more than we would expect from some group of
extremists that wandered off into the desert to await the end of the
> 4) The evidence of female skeletons contradicts the picture
> of celibate Essenes?
> In the New Testament we get a very convincing account of spiritual
> celibate males living in close association with their "sisters" and
Why the quote marks? First of all, what NT passages are you
referring to? Second, how do you know the sisters and mothers
aren't literal? Third, exactly where are these celibate males?
Fourth, how do you know this has anything at all to do with
And both Hippolytus and Josephus mention Essenes
> that DO get married. So who CARES whether there are more or
> less female skeletons than we expected in the graves?
Yes, they do mention such Essenes. But it's quite a stretch from
that to the idea that this is the group we have represented at
Qumran. This is hopelessly ad hoc and is invoked for no other
purpose than to try and shore up the Essene hypothesis. If
Qumran is the "Essene" outpost mentioned by Philo (I don't think it
is, but for the sake of argument suppose it is), then we are
specifically told that this group didn't marry. So the stuff about
married Essenes does nothing to back up the Qumran Essene
hypothesis. The Essene-ers still need to explain the female grave
> I look forward to any FURTHER objections you may have about
> the Qumran documents. It is NOT important whether ANY Essenes
> ever LIVED at Qumran. I've always maintained that if they didn't live
> there, they probably lived in a tent community a half a mile down the
> road. The point is the Qumran documents fit no other group better
> than the Essenes.
No other group that we know about, that is. But the picture we
have from the time is hardly clear, and Josephus only mentioned
major groups. So we still don't have a solid basis for the Essene
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
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