The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea
Joan E. Taylor
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Ever since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in caves near the site of Qumran in 1947, this mysterious cache of manuscripts has been associated with the Essenes, a "sect" configured as marginal and isolated. Scholarly consensus has held that an Essene library was hidden ahead of the Roman advance in 68 CE, when Qumran was partly destroyed. With much doubt now expressed about aspects of this view, The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea systematically reviews the surviving historical sources, and supports an understanding of the Essenes as an influential legal society, at the centre of Judaean religious life, held in much esteem by many and protected by the Herodian dynasty, thus appearing as "Herodians" in the Gospels.
Opposed to the Hasmoneans, the Essenes combined sophisticated legal expertise and autonomy with an austere regimen of practical work, including a specialisation in medicine and pharmacology. Their presence along the north-western Dead Sea is strongly indicated by two independent sources, Dio Chrysostom and Pliny the Elder, and coheres with the archaeology. The Dead Sea Scrolls represent not an isolated library, quickly hidden, but burials of manuscripts from numerous Essene collections, placed in jars in caves for long-term preservation. The historical context of the Dead Sea area itself, and its extraordinary natural resources, as well as the archaeology of Qumran, confirm the Essenes' patronage by Herod, and indicate that they harnessed the medicinal material the Dead Sea zone provides to this day.
centuries was constituted by a tiny handful of persons. See the discussion in Part I, Chapter 7 below. 82 See Taylor, Jewish Women Philosophers, 1–20. ‘A Peculiar Problem’: A Short History of Scholarship on the Essenes 21 proven to be untrue. In a discussion where no proof can be presented for or against historical actuality, and where rhetoricity does not invalidate historicity, the if prerequisite remains a given. Where, however, it becomes apparent that other evidence happens to cohere
59–61. 31 Philo enhances moral excellence by comparisons with the Temple, see Contempl. 91–3. 32 The word ìÝôåØìØ has the sense of ‘questing after’: LSJ 1119, 2b. 32 The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea ‘many cities of Judaea and many villages’ (11: 1, so Josephus, War 2: 124). The village setting of the Essenes in Probus nevertheless adds to their characterization: they are quietly focused on the spiritual life, avoiding any distraction. In Philo’s personal view, expressed in De Vita
(1994): 207–21; id. ‘What Josephus Says’; id. ‘Excursus I: The Essenes of Josephus’ War,’ in id. with Honora Chapman, Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1b: Judean War 2 (Leiden: Brill, 2008). 23 Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, i, 389–416. Josephus 59 philosopher Apion was by no means alone. He was joined with Chaeremon, an Alexandrian Stoic philosopher who taught Nero.24 At the time Josephus was writing, the memory of the Roman victory procession after the quashing of the
triggers his exposition of the contrasting schools that are the legitimate exponents of Judaism and, among them, it is the Essenes who are the most worthy as the best examples to illustrate the whole. As noted above, the term Æ¥æåóØò is used here of the Galileans with a view to what will happen in due course, when the teaching of Judas would become a Jerusalem legal school proper during the Revolt. Josephus himself probably would have referred to it as a Æ¥æåóØò during this time, because it did
7: 343–57; Ant. 1: 229–31 and 17: 354. 99 Ibid. 50–1, 60–1. 100 Ibid. 98, and see p.100 where there is discussion of the widespread knowledge of the decensus ad inferos myth. 101 As suggested by Mason, Flavius Josephus on the Pharisees, 169–70. 84 The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea menstrual periods) to demonstrate fertility. These wives on probation are then in the same position as the men who wish to join the order, with additional issues attached to their fertility. Since sex is