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

Re: orion-list Was Josephus Exhaustive?

Prof. Baumgarten writes:

> One other point in the discussion also is worth a short comment. Did
> Josephus mean to be exhaustive when he wrote there were three Jewish
> groups? Did he mean to say three and only three, no more?!

I understand that even Josephus brings up, awkwardly, the issue of the
4th Philosophy.  But the citation on Bannus is not part of the overall
treatment of the Jewish sects.  The citation on Bannus is part of 
Josephus's explanation about wanting to have a "primer" on the
THREE (3) sects that he does emphasize - - including, specifically,
the Essenes.  And in the very same breath, Josephus uses the Bannus
discussion to link this idea to the final comment he offers which is that
he **then** went to study with the Pharisees.

Thus, Bannus's credentials as an Essene seem sufficiently testified
to by Josephus.  And I am glad that Prof. Baumgarten agrees that
this Bannus citation is about Bannus teaching the ways of the 

The idea that Bannus is an unlikely Essene because he seems to
be living a solitary life is actually the risky conclusion.  One, while
it seems more or less clear he is not living in a community of other 
scholars, it seems **quite** clear that he is not living by himself....
otherwise Josephus would not have been able to spend 3 years
with him.  And there is no reason to think that Josephus and
Bannus would not have had other students there as well.  Living
without other "sages" is not the same as living completely alone
(perhaps there is more than one college professor in smaller
academic departments who can attest to this?).

As far as this idea goes that Bannus might be an "ex-Essene",
and yet quite capable of teaching others how to live as a fully
initiated Essene, this would pretty much suggest the equivalent
of Bannus "allowing his Essene membership dues to lapse."  I
grant this possibility.  But it hardly changes the nature of the
Bannus evidence for the purposes of explaining that Josephus
went to Bannus to "complete" his 3 year training as an Essene.
For all we know, Bannus might have decided to move away
from the Essene "core" territories as a deliberate way to
provide convenient "education" to Jerusalem's affluent.
Or perhaps he was shunned because of some point of 
discipline from a "camp".  But Josephus clearly treats
Bannus as an Essene, and without any other evidence I
don't see why we shouldn't either.

Finally, as a side note, even while Josephus speaks with a
different voice about the 4th Philosophy - - someone how 
implying that it "is" and it "isn't" part of the Essene sect
by how he handles it, the interesting thing is that Josephus
**still** grazes the Jewish spiritual landscape by becoming
even a captain of part of the revolutionary forces.  While
this does not necessarily mean that he was a fully devoted
member of the 4th Philosophy (even at the time), it would
certainly show that Josephus was more sympathetic to
the fourth philosophy during the upswing of the war than
later on.

George Brooks
Tampa, FL

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.