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Re: orion-list Was Josephus Exhaustive?

Prof. Suter,

I believe you are thinking of another section
of Josephus.  The section which I quoted (and included in
an earlier posting) limits itself to his wanting to learn
all about the three major Sects (he expresses no interest
in learning about any of the other sects) and with the hope
of deciding which one would be best.  His discussion of
Bannus is just prior to his mention of returning to
Jerusalem, at the age of 19, to learn about the Pharisees.

My comment about the speculative nature of "concluding"
that Bannus was solitary was not meant to mean that
there were no solitary dwellers of the wilderness.  From
several accounts there appear to be.  But the section
of Josephus that discusses Bannus is not sufficient
to conclude Bannus was "monastic **AND** solitary" more
convincingly than the conclusion that he was "ascetic
**AND** Essene".

On the latter, Josephus explicitly discusses his ascetic
ways which have more affinity with the Essene form of spirituality than
either of his other 2 aforementioned sects.
He also explicitly mentions living with him for 3 years
(before "returning to the city), which fits his discussion
of the Essene initiation period.  And he does all this very economically
before changing the subject to his
proceeding, then, to Jerusalem to learn more about
the Pharisees.

On the former, of his being monastic, or more on-point,
regarding his being solitary (since monastic individuals,
or monks, quite frequently congregate in monasteries),
there is only the pre-conceived notion of John the Baptist
in popular literature that would make so many learned people think Bannus
was solitary.  I will not invest time in the
issue of whether even John the Baptist did not have "students" living with
him in his own camp.  But Josephus certainly
implies that Bannus is **not** solitary if he welcomes a 16
year old boy to join him for 3 whole years.  (And if someone
**can** be described as "solitary" while spending 3 years
with at least one student, then I should think the same
"could" be said about John the Baptist!)

I'm sure Bannus had his own tent, and who is to say that
others didn't pitch tents nearby.  On these issues Josephus
is **so** silent.  So why should  we surmise there is only
one boy receiving instruction from Bannus?  Is his teaching
role so unusual a practice that we cannot imagine him having other students?
Must we surmise that Josephus also "bribed" Bannus in order to allow him to
become a 3 year Essene
student?  Or shouldn't we think that one of the primary
diversions of Essene-oriented sages is the teaching &
recruiting of more Essenes?

As you say, there is the issue of whether the early Christian model for
spiritual recluses can be applied to Bannus. This is why I think I can say
the idea that Bannus lived all by himself in the desert is "riskier" (i.e.,
more speculative) than the rather simple conclusion that Josephus is
actually trying to
tell his reader:  that "he went to live with Bannus for 3
years to accomplish his hope of "becoming" an Essene."

George Brooks
Tampa, FL

David Suter
Saint Martin's College
E-mail to dsuter@stmartin.edu

For private reply, e-mail to George Brooks <george.x.brooks@juno.com>
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