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Re: orion-list Essenes at Qumran: A Reality Check

While I agree strongly with Rochelle Altman's conclusion that Qumran
should not
be identified with the Essenes, and have written on the subject in the
past  (my
way of putting it is that the sources on the Essenes have no privileged
place in
understanding Qumran texts and vice versa), I think she has overstated
the case.
This does the case no good.
I don't think anyone ever claimed that all 4000 of Josephus or Philo's
lived at Qumran. I think that even those who hold the Qumran=Essene
concede that Josephus was correct in asserting that Essenes lived all
Judea. Qumran, on their view was some sort of Essene center or retreat,
a place at which every Essene spent some time during his initiation, or
a center
for production of scrolls for the movement.The population estimates for
Qumran with which I am familiar all run from about 100 to 400 or 500,
never 4000.
There may be any number of reality checks to indicate that Qumran was
Essene, but I don't think that an argument based on the water
requirements of
4000 people is one of them.
Al Baumgarten
For private reply, e-mail to "Albert I. Baumgarten" <baumgaa@mail.biu.ac.il>
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