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

Re: orion-list peacemakers, etc.

Dear Prof. Goranson:

I welcome your conversation about the use of the phrase "Doers of
War."  I'm actually a little surprised that you resist this use.  I have
done an about face in your view regarding the term **Doers**.  You
will recall that I thought that the root for Holy/Saintly/Pious was the
more "useful" source for the term Essene.

Then after reading the book **THE MACCABEES** it struck me
that the most robust historical phase for those called Hasidim or
Assiddeans was when the alliance was formed to resist the Greek
armies in the Maccabean conflict.  It was almost as if the use of
the phrase was infused with the sense of "holy warriors."  So 
imagine my amazement when, in search of the word "warrior" or
"warriors" I discovered that the Hebrew equivalent was:  One,
rare (only two times is it used in the O.T.), and Two, it was "Doers
of War"  (or War Doers).

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

All this time you pointing out how the phrase "Doers of Torah"
leant itself to the Essenes, and that this phrase is found in the
DSS texts.  And yet, up to this point, I thought it a little lame 
since I'm sure the Pharisees and the Sadducees had quite an
**equal** right to consider themselves as Doers of Torah.

However, if the Essenes were a covert militia, with their
highly hierarchical structure extending deep into The Wilderness,
it would make **perfect** sense for the Essenes to coin a
term based on "doers", with an explicit link to something obvious
and "benign" like The Torah, and an implicit/covert link to 
the more "serious" business of doing **war**.

Your comment that Hippolytus got things confused... I find
Hippolytus's presentation of the factionalism in the Essene
sect **MUCH** more concise than the one presented by
Josephus.  Josephus twists and turns.  Hippolytus, who 
**never** took an Essene oath to secrecy is much more
direct and more informative.  Why is it that people **want**
to believe that Hippolytus was confused?  What he says
makes perfect sense.  Another Church Father (his name
escapes) also refers to the Sicarii as making forced 
circumcisions .... just like Hippolytus's Essene splinter
group does.  In anycase, I think it is the history of the
Maccabees, not what Josephus or Hippolytus says, that
speaks the loudest for the "covert military" aspect of
the Essenes..... except for just one thing......

Both Josephus and Hippolytus speak of a highly hierarchical,
rank oriented organization with annual promotions and demotions,
and strict punishment for the mildest infractions.  The whole tone
of **both** presentations is one of an organization that considered
their lifestyle a life-and-death matter.  This is **not** typical of
a group that is merely pursuing spiritual enlightenment.  It is a
war-like inclincation towards discipline, punishment and strictly
obeying orders.  If they weren't a group of covert warriors, they
were ready to be at a moment's notice.... (each with a copy of the 
War Scroll under their pillow?).

If the Essenes **really** wanted to base their name on 
"Doers of Torah", the English equivalent of their Hewbrew
name could have just as easily been something like
EsseTorarenes (I'm not trying to be funny here).  But what
we see is the more ambivalent:  "Esse-ene" .... just Doers......
Doers of what?  You say Torah; I say War.  And I think we
are both correct.

Professor, I'm just curious.  Does the Bible use the phrase
Doers of Torah?  I don't mean sentences which have both
words (Doing and Law).  Do you have any statistics on
how many sentences there are that actually use the phrase
Doers of Torah in the sense that we have been using it?

I think you have found me reasonable in the past.  Let's
pursue this conversation as you have the time to do so.  I
find it rewarding and significant.


George Brooks
Tampa, FL

P.S.  While my email uses the initial "X", I don't really don't
use it in my name for correspondence.

On Thu, 23 Dec 1999 15:20:42 -0500 Stephen Goranson <goranson@duke.edu>
> Dear George X. Brooks,
> 	To the best of my knowledge, no extant ancient text, in any
> language, ever, called Essenes "doers of war." Therefore I invite 
> you to
> reconsider your use of this term. (Hippolytus evidently partly mixed 
> up
> Essenes and the "fourth philosophy.") Marcus Agrippa, a general, did 
> not
> convey a warlike description of Essenes to Pliny. Josephus (War 
> 2.135 [6])
> did describe Essenes as "peacemakers."
For private reply, e-mail to George Brooks <george.x.brooks@juno.com>
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.