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orion-list Bannus and Josephus
This message was originally sent on Feb. 10th but was bounced from the
server. I hope that it is still relevant!
George Brooks writes:
>"But Josephus clearly treats Bannus as an Essene, and without any other
evidence I don't see why we shouldn't either."
The issue of Bannus being associated with the Essenes, or having been an
ex-Essene, is perhaps more complex than Mr. Brooks has indicated. While I
do not deny that Bannus may well have been associated with the Essenes at
one time, he seems to have distanced himself from them by the time Josephus
As Prof. Baumgarten has indicated in a recent posting:
>"Bannus lived in the desert. Essenes according to Josephus lived in
villages and towns. Bannus seems to have been a hermit, while Essenes lived
in communities. Essenes wore standard clothing, notable for its uniformity
and simplicity. Bannus's clothing, whatever the passage means, was of a
higher standard of removal from ordinary clothing."
If I might just add to Prof. Baumgarten's posting... it is also interesting
to note that Josephus does not associate Bannus with the Essenes as he does
with other individuals like John the Essene (War 2.20.4) and Simon the
Essene (Ant. 17.8.3).
Although these points argue against Bannus' association with the Essenes,
his diet and immersions do indicate that he may have once been an Essene (as
Prof. Baumgarten has observed).
Interestingly, the observations offered by Prof. Baumgarten are exactly same
as those that are discussed in relation to the question of John the
Baptist's possible association with the Essenes / Qumran community, and
there is anything but a consensus on this topic. Given the brief nature of
Josephus' description of Bannus and the similarities between Bannus and John
the Baptist we may be well served by considering these two individuals
Trinity Western University
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