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Re: orion-list Pacifism of Essenes deconstructed
David Suter writes,
> Now, perhaps these pieces of information [incidents from Josephus]
> also need to be subjected to the same kind of analysis that
> Russell is applying to the traditions about the Therapeutae and the
> but they do suggest a variety of approaches to resistance present in first
> century Judaism.
My observations were entirely limited to the claims of Essene and
Therapeutae peacefulness in Philo.
It is possible in these incidents that Josephus exaggerates the
peacefulness of protests against Pilate and Caligula -- there may have been
other Jewish elements prepared to act more violently, which Josephus neglects
to report -- but we lack sufficient evidence to draw such a conclusion. (It
does however seem to me that Petronius was worried about the possibility of a
general violent uprising of the Jews, despite the peacefulness of the
delegation that came to him with an appeal.) Even if Josephus falsified his
accounts (which I do not believe he did), that Josephus even hypothetically
contrived a story of non-violent appeals to the authorities would still
demonstrate that such an approach was a option in the first century CE.
(Indeed, for a delegation making an appeal to a Roman governor to carry
weapons would have been singularly suicidal.)
The episodes in Josephus appear to have been pragmatic responses to
specific situations more in the way of political strategies than an ethical
stance; and, as David points out, the Essenes do not appear in these
incidents. Whether there was such a thing as "ethical pacifism" in the
period we are considering (i.e. an ethical repudiation of violence as such)
and whether such pacifism can be attributed to the Essenes are entirely
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