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Re: orion-list Bannus and Josephus

    _The Life_ 12 says Josephus spent three years with Bannus, at which time 
Josephus was 19 years old.  The three years discipleship is sometimes 
compared with the initiation period of Essenes (cf. 1QS vi 21).  And yet the 
scrolls indicate that twenty years of age was the minimum for admittance into 
the community (1QSa i 8-9).  This seems to imply either that Bannus was not 
operating by Essene principles or that the Essenes were not operating under 
the guidelines of the scrolls.  Yes?
    There also seems little correlation between the vegetarianism of Bannus 
and Essene practices.  I observe that _The Life_ 14 also mentions that 
certains priests arrested and sent to Rome under Felix, acquaintances of 
Josephus, "had not forgotten the pious practices of religion, and supported 
themselves on figs and nuts."  There is no indication these priests were 
Essenes.  A vegetarian diet was normal Jewish practice in a pagan environment 
where meats might have derived from pagan sacrifices.  See for instance Dan. 
1:8-16, which may have provided the Biblical example followed by Judah 
Maccabee at 2 Macc. 5:27.  
    However, it does seem significant to me that both Bannus and Judah 
Maccabee spent a period in the wilderness eating a vegetarian diet.  In the 
case of Judah, this was immediately prior to his becoming a leader of the 
revolt against the Seleucids occupying Judea.  Was Bannus consciously 
modeling himself on Judah Maccabee?  The Jewish revolt was inspired in part 
by the famous Maccabean uprising of earlier days.  There were a number of 
prophets and revolutionaries operating out of the wilderness during this 
time.  It seems likely to me that Bannus was one such anti-Roman 
revolutionary.  If so, then the period Josephus spent with Bannus might have 
had more to do with politics than religion.  Naturally, Josephus would not 
have emphasized that he spent his youth among wilderness insurgents, passing 
it off as part of his religious education.  But it is relevant to note that 
he was active in defending priests sent to Rome on political charges and was 
later a general in the Jewish uprising.  And the Bannus passage does occur in 
_The Life_, whose manifest purpose it do defend Josephus against various 
charges others had raised against him.  So perhaps his time with Bannus is 
not as innocent as he would lead his readers to believe.

    Best regards,
    Russell Gmirkin
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