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Re: orion-list Josephus Vita 9-12

Since I'll want my current undergrad DSS Class to have a look at this
passage, for which George Brooks of Tampa FL has supplied us with the
Whiston translation, it seemed like a good idea to go through it once more
with the Loeb translation (Thackeray, 1926) also in view, as well as the
surviving Greek text. As I tell my students when they don't know the
original languages, try to check at least two translations done from
different perspectives before basing an argument on details of the text.

10a. [Whiston (Life 2 = new numbering 10-12):] and when I was about
sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trial of the several sects that
were among us. 

[Thackeray:] At about the age of sixteen I determined to gain personal
experience of the several sects into which our nation is divided. 

10b. [Whiston:] These sects are three: - The first is that of the
Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducees, and the third that of the
Essenes, as we have frequently told you;
[Thackeray:] These, as I have frequently mentioned [footnote, War 2.119,
Ant 13.171 and 18.11], are three in number -- the first that of the
Pharisees, the second that of the Sadducees, and the third that of the

[Whiston:] for I thought that by this means I might choose the best,
if I were once acquainted with them all; 

[Thackeray:] I thought that, after a thorough investigation, I should be
in a position to select the best.

11. [Whiston:] so I contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great
difficulties, and went through them all.
[Thack:] So I submitted myself to hard training and laborious exercises
and passed through the three courses.

NOTE: This summary statement, in both translations and in the Greek,
suggests that Josephus had finished his "experience/trial" (the same word
is used in 10a and 11b) of the three "sects" at this point. What follows
is introduced as a new and additional "experience/trial," since what was
done thus far did not "suffice" for him.

11b. [Wh:] Nor did I content myself with these trials only; 

[Thack:] Not content, however, with the experience thus gained,

[wooden Greek:] And neither considering the thus derived experience to be
sufficient for myself

11c. [Wh:] but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived
in the desert, 

[Thack:] on hearing of one named Bannus, who dwelt in the wilderness,

11d-f. [Wh:] and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, 
and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, 
and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, 
in order to preserve his chastity, 

[Thack:] wearing only such clothing as trees provided, 
feeding on such things as grew of themselves,
and using frequent ablutions of cold water, by day and night, 
for purity's sake,

11g. [Wh:] I imitated him in those things, 

[Thack:] I became his devoted disciple. 

[wooden Greek:] I became a zealot of him.

12a. [Wh:] and continued with him three years.

[Thack:] With him I lived for three years,

12b. [Wh:] So when I had accomplished my desires 

[Thack:] and, having accomplished my purpose,
NOTE: The most natural meaning is that Josephus had completed his 
examination of the options that he "desired" to test.

12c. [Wh:] I returned back to the city, 

[Thack:] returned to the city.

12d. [Wh:] being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself
according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which is of kin to
the sect of the Stoics, as the Greeks call them.

[Thack:] Being now in my nineteenth year I began to govern my life by the
rules of the Pharisees, a sect having points of resemblance to that which
the Greeks call the Stoic school.

CONCLUSION: Josephus does not suggest that Bannus was Essene (or Pharisee,
or Sadducee), and might indeed have included him in the mysterious "4th
sect/philosophy" (Ant 18.23), as possibly hinted at with the use of the
term "zealot" in 11g (see War 7.268 and 2.118)! Josephus knows much more
than he sees fit to tell, it seems.

Why this sort of detail is important is that it provides clues about the
apparently complex situation in first century Palestinian Judaism that is
otherwise simplified by Josephus with his three (but yet four!) groups,
and helps us to appreciate the related complexity of issues in attempting
to understand the background and significance of the "Dead Sea Scrolls."

Does anyone know of a responsible English language treatment of the
materials gathered by J.Thomas in his French monograph on "Baptist
Movements in Palestine and Syria" in this period (from 1935 or so)? I've
often wondered if it deserves to be updated and revised in view of our
newer evidence and hypotheses.
Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
For private reply, e-mail to kraft@ccat.sas.upenn.edu (Robert Kraft)
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