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essenes rubbish (Be warned: much frustration)

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  • Ian Hutchesson
    As we see yet again and yet again and yet again the brainlessness of the Essene hypothesis manifests itself. One has to have had an academic lobotomy to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 1999
      As we see yet again and yet again and yet again the brainlessness of the
      Essene hypothesis manifests itself. One has to have had an academic lobotomy
      to blindly accept a hypothesis such as this without ANY EVIDENCE whatsoever.
      Really this is a despicably silly situation where the best the dumb academic
      community can do is to selectively interpret Pliny on the Essenes to force
      it to mean that well, you know, nothing else fits the location as well as
      Qumran, in order to make any real connection at all between the Essenes and
      the DSS. At best a limp secondary argument.

      Then there is the naff (limp, superficial, corny...) attempts to make the
      descriptions of the Essenes gleaned from Josephus, Pliny and Philo fit the
      contents of the scrolls, which at best suggests that there is some
      theological and praxis-related similarities between the Essenes and the
      writers of the DSS, just as there are similarities between Christian writers
      and Jewish writers, but no-one would suggest that the Christian writings we
      have were Jewish. Similarities are merely that... similarities. What the
      relationship is between those similar things is not deliniated by the
      similarities. So one cannot simply argue from the similarities between the
      DSS and the Essene descriptions that one can say that the Essenes wrote the DSS.

      I have challenged a number of Essene Hypothesis supporters to give some
      substance to the hypothesis and stop merely acting like sheep and following
      the blind herd into the abyss. Read this:

      Essene Hypothesis supporters come up with the goods: show some serious
      support for the damned thing or shut up about it. This is of course like
      asking a haemophiliac to stop bleeding.

      >> There is no indication of avoiding women in CR, no advice to maintain one's
      >> ceibacy. Women are simply not mentioned. It seems premature to think of
      >> celibacy simply because CR doesn't mention women.
      >
      >It doesn't mention it but when you read the document it does appear
      >to present a community of celibate men. Vorlage to the effect of
      >not being seduced by your lower nature also points in that direction.

      Guessing again.

      >> >Some, I believe, claim DD is not an Essene document. I think that
      >> >the MD is early, during the Maccabaean period and DD late, during
      >> >the Roman period. Since the DD SAYS that its penal code is from
      >> >the MD, this seems to confirm it.
      >>
      >> CD clearly isn't an Essene document, but almost certainly none of the others
      >> are either. CD, besides espousing slavery and not communal property, also
      >> espouses oaths (16:7ff), which Josephus's description of the Essenes
      >> excludes. The Essenes were not in favour of temple practices, yet CD is very
      >> pro-temple.
      >>
      >> >It looks like the Essenes went through some changes in their
      >> >practices between 160BCE to the 1st century.
      >>
      >> Come on Jack, wake up. This is silliness. You assume (without justification)
      >> that Essenes wrote the scrolls and when they don't match the information you
      >> have about the Essenes, you say the Essenes changed. Hey, it's sort of
      >> logical, but it also means that you can't say what you know about the
      >> Essenes at all. The ancient sources are your knowledge to say that the
      >> scrolls are Essene, so then you use the scrolls as your knowledge to say
      >> what is Essenes and correct the ancient sources. Well done.
      >
      >Ian, 99% of scholars in the world and 100% of DSS scholars find justification
      >that the scrolls (at least the sectarian scrolls) are Essene in origin. So
      >do I. Now I can understand gadflies. Sometimes gadflies come up with
      >something. I can more understand challenging the association between the
      >DSS and Qumran. The Essene hypothesis does not become "silly" just because the
      >irrepressible Ian disagrees with it.

      Jack always comes down to this idea. 99% of the people believe it so
      mooooooooo. When Galileo was supporting the Copernican view of the solar
      system 99% of the people believed he was wrong. For most of the time human
      beings have been on the earth 99% of them have believed that the world was flat.

      Jack simply cannot put together an argument to support the Essene Hypothesis
      -- because there probably isn't one. He will continue to assume it however.



      >That the Essenes went through a period of change is also not "silly."

      That is not the silly thing, Jack. It is the ontological and epistemological
      problems such a change causes to the Essene Hypothesis. It is so elastic --
      no-one dares to actually put it together and communicate it, so it can
      really mean what you like it to mean. You build on the foundation of the
      ancient sources to say that the DSS are Essene and then you take those
      foundations and change them from what you have built. This is magic, Jack,
      but definitely not scholarly argumentation.

      >I don't know a single religious/spiritual community in history that
      >had not undergo radical changes and reformulations within decades of its
      >inception. DSS from different time periods do show changes in
      >paradigms.

      Do they necessarily represent a diachronic situation or could the
      differences you note be across the same point in time -- a spectrum of
      beliefs held by different people?

      >It is not without reason that there may have been several subsects
      >of Essenes.

      This is not the problem, Jack.

      >Whether you like it or not it is YOUR viewpoint
      >that is silliness and unless you develop another communication style,
      >no reasonable person, and certainly not the academic community, will
      >even listen to you.

      Jack, there is no analysis of the foundations of the Essene Hypothesis in
      this and anything that challenges that hypothesis gets turned onto itself as
      against the "academic community". This however is not an academic community,
      merely a community of conspirators for the crime of turning a blind eye to
      scholarly practice for convenience.

      >> >The puzzlement to me is that Philo and Josephus who are contemporaries
      >> >of the DD Essenes seem to be decribing the MD Essenes of the past.
      >>
      >> Let's face it Jack, you simply cannot justify your wild assumption, based on
      >> the errors of the last fifty years, that the scrolls were written by the
      >> Essenes. No Essene fanatic has ever answered either Cecil Roth or G.R.
      >> Driver who showed the extreme improbability of the Essene Hypothesis. I know
      >> you'll continue to blindly assume the hypothesis, but you cannot evven give
      >> it the hope of a fair possibility.
      >
      >As usual, this is pregnant with Hutchessonian hyperbole. So any scholar
      >who disagrees with Ian is a "fanatic?"

      No, any "scholar" who cannot back a hypothesis with solid reasoning based on
      sufficient evidence is a fanatic.

      >You been taking ego pills?

      No, Jack, I've been listening to the empty Essene Hypothesis rhetoric for
      too long.

      >I have been on this list for a gadzillion years and I don't believe
      >I have a reputation (if anyone notices me at all) as a conservative
      >who will not consider alternate explanations or to formulate them
      >myself.

      You do have the reputation of pretty wild speculation. And the Essene
      Hypothesis is strongly based on speculation.

      >Your statement above about those whon accept the Essene
      >hypothesis is so exaggerated in its commitment that I am sure you can
      >show me the error of it in less than 50 words. Go to it. If it
      >makes some sense beyond an ego trip, I'll look at it.

      You refuse to even start a disinvolved analysis of the Essene Hypothesis,
      therefore you are not prepared to contemplate anything other than it in a
      serious manner.

      This Essene Hypothesis thing with its no-supporting-arguments is rather
      frustrating to deal with as it is merely complicity in silence. A whole body
      of secondary literature is cropping up assuming the Essen Hypothesis as the
      starting point to come up with weird and wonderful conclusions about life,
      the universe and Christianity.

      >> >Could both have been using the MD as source material? I thought
      >> >Flavius Joe spent some time with these folks.
      >>
      >> Naaa, that's just his attempt to show he knew what he was talking about when
      >> he took on Pharisaic ways in order to get ahead.
      >>
      >> >A solution to this conundrum could be that the Essenes of MD
      >> >broke into two communities resulting in MD'ers (at Qumran?)
      >> >and DD'ers (Jerusalem?).
      >>
      >> Now we have the Essenes splitting. Great. This might be an explanation of
      >> why many of the documents don't allow an Essene interpretation. Perhaps we
      >> have the description of only one wing of the Essene movement. Well, it might
      >> be nice to have at least one identified Essene document before we start
      >> pretending we know something about them beyond what the ancient sources have
      >> to say about them.
      >
      >Serekh ha Yahad reflects a community like that which Josephus describes
      >as Essenes, with some differences.

      Well, if Josephus says that they didn't take oaths and 1QS says that one
      needed to take an oath as a means of even joining the group (1QS5:8f), I'd
      say you needed to think again. The oath that the Essenes refused to make is
      necessary in 1QS.

      >I am more inclined to believe those differences developed in the community,
      >over time, than the DSS being the product of Sadducees, Joseph Smith, or
      >reformed Presbyterians. Apparently, you claim that they are of Pharisaic
      >origin (being the only logical alternative) so lay it on me.

      I have often expressed a view that the DSS are simply mainstream documents
      (circa 170BCE and following), perhaps produced in the temple, in a community
      under siege from the Hellenistic powers around which have co-opted a part of
      the population, including some of the priesthood. It was in this climate
      that MMT (and perhaps CR) was produced by the temple. With the destitution
      of Onias III, we get the writing of the hymns. These circumstances that lead
      to the exile from the temple when it is polluted and we have the production
      of the Habakkuk pesher that attacks the high priest and tells of the coming
      of the Seleucid forces in the form of Cypriot mercenaries (the Kittim) and
      Nahum pesher that talks of similar things mentioning the naughty priests in
      Jerusalem. CD was produced in this period of enduring war when there was no
      stability of life and many people were living in camps.

      Later documents arise in the period after the rise to power of the Hasmonean
      dynasty and we have a praise of Alexander Jannaeus, 4Q448. With this
      Hasmonean rise there is the development of the Melchizedek tradition that
      unifies the role of priest and king, and that allows for a non-Zadokite
      priesthood through Melchizedek's priority to the Aaronid lines. The
      accompanying return to stability allows the production of such works as the
      Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifices relating so strongly to the temple. This
      material was probably produced by those people that posterity called
      Sadducees, as they had control of the temple for most of the period from
      John Hyrcanus to Aristobulus II. (The DSS are clearly not Pharisaic works.)

      Is it so strange that when the DSS talk of the sons of Zadok or the sons of
      Aaron they actually mean the sons of Zadok and the sons of Aaron? When the
      DSS talk so favourably of the temple they are actually in favour of the
      temple? When the talk of Kittim they actually mean Kittim (ie Cypriots)?
      When the DSS talk about the temple treasure they are actually talking about
      the temple treasure (not withstanding our problems of understanding the
      CopperS)? When the DSS give the priestly temple rosters they are actually
      priestly temple rosters?

      --o0o--

      Supporters of the Essene Hypothesis are great twisters of the significance
      of texts: they don't mean what they say: they need to be manipulated. There
      has been far too much manipulation of these texts.

      >What are these obvious improbabilities of "Cecil Roth or G.R.
      >Driver who showed the extreme improbability of the Essene Hypothesis?"

      I've put a summary of Roth's objections at

      http://www.geocities.com/Paris/LeftBank/5210/croth.htm

      His articles are better to read. G.R. Driver's work is more substantial, but
      I haven't had my hands on his book "The Judean Scrolls". Both authors have
      analyses the contents of the scrolls and concluded that they don't allow the
      Essene option.

      >I assure you I don't have a single historical construction that cannot be
      >challenged

      You have never put together a coherent outline of these historical
      constructions regarding the Essene Hypothesis.

      >and whenever I change a paradigm as the result of a reasoned
      >and well-evidenced challenge, I consider it a great victory and step
      >forward. Some challengers succeed, for which I am always grateful..while
      >other challengers are indeed "silly" (but I would never call them that).

      I didn't call you silly Jack. There is a serious difference between calling
      someone silly and calling what someone does or thinks silly. One can change
      the latter.

      >> >I need a cup of coffee.
      >>
      >> I think you need more than a cup of coffee, Jack.
      >
      >Yes, I also always need a small cup of patience whenever we exchange
      >views.

      My problem is that I don't drink coffee.


      Ian

      A C H A L L E N G E

      I CHALLENGE ANY SUPPORTER OF THE ESSENE HYPOTHESIS TO PUT TOGETHER A
      CONVINCING DISPLAY OF THE EVIDENCE THAT DOES NOT MAKE SPECIAL PLEAS FOR THE
      SIGNIFICANCE OF PLINY AND THAT DON'T REST SOLELY ON INTERPRETATION OF THE
      SCROLLS MAKING THEM FIT THE ANCIENT SOURCES WHERE SUITABLE AND MAKING THE
      ESSENES FIT THE SCROLLS WHERE NECESSARY.
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