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orion-list R. Altman: Essenes "_could not_ have been at Qumran" (was: Guilty Corpses, etc.)

Dear Dr. Altman and list,

Rochelle, you do make bold claims, as in your paragraph below. As you know,
we disagree on Essenes vis-a-vis Qumran. For any readers interested, some
context of this difference appears in recent posts on ioudaios-list
available via
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/ioudaios   (click on recent messages)
There, Dr. Altman gave 5 criteria for "tags," and concluded only one Hebrew
word, "hoseh" (to seek refuge), qualified; then, RA proposed Essenes might
be non-Jewish Buddhists. I wrote that Essenes were Jews, that ancient
namers knew not RA's 5 rules, or didn't always follow them (e.g.
"amoraim"--common Hebrew verb, and transitive, as is 'asah, from which, in
my view, "Essenes" comes), that RA's analysis of Qumran archaeology was
mistaken, and so on.

I have two suggestions. First, Dr. Altman, if you are so inclined, could
you provide for orion readers your reasons for the assertions in the quoted

Second, perhaps this exchange could serve a broader purpose if we take into
account some history of scholarship, including pre-1948 scholarship. For
instance, del Medico's Essene myth proposal; Eusebius' mistaken assertion
that Therapeutae were Christian monks and the debates about that by
16th-century Catholics and Protestants; the reintroduction of Philo and
Josephus in Jewish scholarship (e.g., Azariah dei Rossi); and some aspects
of Qumran study up to the reactions to two books in last Saturday's NY
Times {"Proposing a Messiah Before Jesus" by  Emily Eakin).

In other words, for instance, in my view some Qumran texts are ineluctably
Essene, and carry not only such beliefs and practices, but also the source
of the name. (A Hebrew name whose recognition was obscured by two Aramaic
proposals of 16th-century origin.) There is plenty more to learn about
Essenes and Qumran; perhaps we can agree on that. It may be useful to learn
some of the sources of support for the assertion that Essenes "_could not_
have been at Qumran."

Stephen Goranson

[excerpt from Rochelle Altman post:]
>Further, we do not know that we are dealing with a cult. Does the "Essene"
>cult hypothesis hold up under reality checks? If the Essenes did exist as
>an identifiable, taggable people, they were not at Khirbet Qumran. A very
>simple physical and physiological reality check immediately eliminates
>Qumran as an "Essene" site. As the "Essenes" were not, and _could not_,
>have been at Qumran, classing those documents as "Essene" becomes extremely

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