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Re: orion-list Who Cares and Why does it Matter?
Albert Baumgarten asked, "Who Cares and Why Does it Matter?" That
is a very good question (or two). But Prof. Baumgarten's post with that
title did not answer the question--nor did it directly address the basic
question of the history of scholarship as concerns recognition or denial of
Essene evidence as well as understandings and misunderstandings of Essenes.
The post took a faulty premise and used some factually wrong observations.
Here is an example of an assertion which is factually wrong. (This
example is additional to corrections already made by Joe Zias.) Baumgarten
>7. To maintain Qumran as Essene on the basis of the testimony of Pliny
>requires three rounds of special pleading in a short passage of about 15
>lines: [....] (2) Pliny places Ein Gedi
>below the Essene city. This comment must be reinterpreted as meaning
>downstream, an interpretation which would probably never have been
>suggested if not for the desire to correlate Plinyís Essene city with
This is flat wrong. It has already been quoted on this list, and in
a paper on Pliny on orion web site, and by others including de Vaux's book
on Qumran that Pliny was translated in the 19th century as placing Ein Gedi
"Su[e]dlich von inhen." It has been explained in detail how, in Pliny,
infra often follows downstream, how it fits the context (,,,then Masada
then end of Judaea), how Mary Beagon's Oxford book analyses Pliny on rivers
and seas. Also how de Saulcy's Atlas places Essenes between Jericho and Ein
Gedi; that a PEF book suggestively placed an engraving of Ein Feshkha; that
CD Ginsburg in 1860s had Essenes on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.
How English translations with "below" are amphibolous, non-helpful, as they
can be read either way--cf. lower Nile, lower Egypt. Pliny, indeed, did not
write "fifty paces east of the smiley face on the rock look for a cave
opening and find mucho scrolls." So the issue of physically digging up the
Essene site was not a lively one, pre 1949 (when those who had read Cave
One texts learned *where* the cave was located--*after* several already
recognized some of the *texts* as Essene.) I could go on--as you know :-).
The point is that the above assertion of "special pleading" is simply false.
But the initial question is a good question. Let us try to address
it and include all relevant history of scholarship. We need to start
earlier than Al's "Crisis in the Scrollery" article. Another indeed catchy
title, but which, in my view, gets said "crisis" and "consensus" wrong. The
big event over a decade ago was an issue of access (not enough publishing
people in the scrollery...sometimes nobody home). Changes in the oft
wrongly so-called "consensus" involve a gradual (bumpy) moving away from
the Maccabee-bound dating of Qumran and teacher.
Rather, Al, let's really ask about Essenes vis-a-vis
Qumran--including pre-1948 notions about Essenes. How, for instance, have
some writers mischaracterized Essenes? Why, for instance, do some people,
some of them quite learned, go to *extraordinary* lengths to attempt to
remove Essene Jewish people and Essene texts away from Qumran? I have some
ideas about this, but it might be good to hear from Prof. B., who wrote
somewhere that the people at Qumran were probably, after all, Essenes.
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