But, Russell Gmirkin, most readers do not find a play on words involving the
phoenix bird in or behind Pliny's (or Agrippa's) text on Essenes. Pliny knew
and used more of the varied works of M. Agrippa than his map and
commentary, as I indicated before. And Agrippa's ethnographic interests were
certainly broader than your representation. And Pliny sought credit for knowing
many works, and he assiduously listed them. Nicolas of Damascus appears as a
source elsewhere in Natural History, but not in Book V. And your claim that
Nicolas of Damascus was the source (or deus ex machina) on Essenes for not only
Pliny but Philo and Josephus as well raises more difficulties than it solves.
Plus, not only is the phoenix bird absent from Pliny's Essene account, but,
unless I have forgotten, from any ancient or medieval account of Essenes.
Russell Gmirkin, your declarations on source criticism concerning Essenes and
concerning the composition of the Pentateuch leave me unpersuaded. We have
discussed Essenes at length. Shall we move on to your new book that claims
(p.1) that "...the Hebrew Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272
BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria..."?