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orion-list More Detail vs. Less Detail - - Hippolytus vs. Josephus?

I heartily agree with one of Prof. Goranson's suggestions, and disagree
with another.

I think it is a good idea to do more reading on the Hippolytus
text before commenting.  But I also think it would be a waste
of time to pick what **I** wanted to read about it.  I would
very much like a suggestion from Prof. Goranson on the best one
or two works treating the Hippolytus text.  But while I await your
input, I find it vaguely disingenous to try to invalidate Hippolytus
because of "scribal copy problems" when we know that there
is more of the same with Josephus.  Some academic circles
come right out and say that what Josephus had to say about
Jesus was "obviously a Christian redaction."  And others point to
the Slavonic version to raise doubts about the more common version.

And yet... Josephus has lots of valid uses.  And I suspect that
Hippolytus's treatment of the Essenes will survive these clever
little inuendos.  In fact, when a translation of Josephus is "informed"
with a knowledge of Hippolytus (and even the New Testament),
I find that Josephus is not found wrong .... he is found to be subtle

The position I can't possibly agree about is the one 
regarding disbelief that Josephus took one or more Essene oaths.
The likelihood of this seems beyond question.  If he says he spent
three years learning the ways of the Essenes, and we know that as
he himself describes, that there are 2 to 3 years (with associated
rankings) of "earning" the privileges of an Essene, then we deduction
we know that he must have taken the "beginning" oath, and at least
one more, if he persevered with Bannus for 3 years.

There is no reason to assume that he was a dullard or slow learner and
didn't make it past the first oath, and there is absolutely every reason
to think he **had** to take the first oath or he never would have
been with Bannus for three years.

The obligations of taking the oath of an Essene would be no less
than taking the oath as a member of the Knights of Columbus or
According to those books that deal in such matters, these oaths are
not oaths that cease when you stop paying your dues.  Oaths like
these are life-long.  And we have the unusual fortune of reading
in the rule texts what a person faced if he violated certain rules.  And
there is no reason to think these written items would be the only rules
(or penalties !) included in an oath for a group as "intense" as the

As I await Prof. Goranson's suggestion for which book to read to
best "invalidate" the Hippolytus text, I wonder how is it that so
many use Josephus to support their difficult positions, and yet make
him out to be a liar about something as non-controversial as his
serving a 3 year novitiate with the Essene Bannus?

Peace to you for the next Millenium,
And Praise to "the Doers".

George Brooks
Tampa, FL

On Mon, 27 Dec 1999 12:04:04 -0500 Stephen Goranson <goranson@duke.edu>
> George X. Brooks,
> 	The story of the discovery and study of the Hippolytus 
> manuscript
> is certainly interesting, but the manuscript dates to 14th 
> century--nothing
> special compared to Josephus manuscripts. And the Hippolytus 
> manuscript
> includes plenty of scribal copy problems. Comparing Josephus and 
> Hippolytus
> on Essenes is a complex matter. Perhaps you should read more before 
> sending
> in conclusions or questions. (The archive includes bibliography on
> Hippolytus.)
> 	Claiming Josephus was a 3-year practitioner and Essene 
> oath-taker
> is quite doubtful, IMO, and more than even he claimed in an inflated
> portion of his Vita.
> best,
> Stephen Goranson
> For private reply, e-mail to Stephen Goranson <goranson@duke.edu>
For private reply, e-mail to George Brooks <george.x.brooks@juno.com>
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