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orion-list Dio; Cathedra article on Ein Gedi

Dio's mention of Essenes received interesting comment in C.P. Jones, The 
Roman World of Dio Chrysostom (Cambridge: Harvard, 1978) 63f. Synesius (c. 
400-405?) wrote that Dio (writing perhaps more than 300 years earlier) 
"praises the Essenes, a whole city of happiness by the Dead Sea in the 
center of Palestine, apparently situated very near Sodom." This has been 
discussed before (e.g. by M. Stern; by C. Burchard in RB 1962), including 
questions whether Dio used Pliny or not (or both used Pliny's source, 
Herod the Great contemporary M. Agrippa?--neither Dio nor Synesius ever 
explictly quote Pliny, to my knowledge), and whether the dead water in the 
midst of Palestine near which Essenes lived is the (Syria-) Palestine in 
the estimation of Dio or Synesius. What Jones added is the observation that 
it was probably Bishop Synesius, not Dio, who added the comment about 
Sodom. The elusive Sodom is most reliably located in the text of Genesis, a 
book there is no reason to think Dio had read. The contrast between the 
"eudaimonic" settlement of Essenes (at Qumran/Feshka) and the supposedly 
approximately proximate bad Sodom likely occurred to Synesius. And, as 
Jones noted, by Synesius' time, Sodom had been supposedly located at the 
north of the Sea, in part for convenience of pilgrims.

The July 2000 issue of Cathedra, the Hebrew journal also transliterated as 
Katedrah be-toldot Erets-Yisrael ve-yishuvah (Jerusalem: Yad Y. Ben-Tsevi) 
includes a relevant article by D. Amit and J. Magness which presents 
archaeological analysis and reasons why the Ein Gedi site dug by Y. 
Hirschfeld is not the site of Essene settlement mentioned by Pliny's source.

Stephen Goranson
Durham NC

For private reply, e-mail to goranson <goranson@acpub.duke.edu>
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