Novels, Exclusions, Essenes
- Has anyone here read _The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church_ by Reuven
Schmalz (an artist) and R. Fischer (1999)? I haven't; but many web pages,
searchable via google.com (and amazon) have many accounts of the book and
photos and drawings of the symbol it claims for first century
"artifacts"--a combined fish, six-pointed star, and menorah. It appears to
me a quite improbable symbol and a quite improbable story, involving claims
of conspiracy to supress. For the star as a medieval Jewish symbol, see
Scholem in Messianic Idea; for the later Christian fish symbol, see the
Yale diss. of L. Kant. On combining symbols, cf. the debate whether a
Carthage oil lamp with Christ and a menorah (upside down) is Jewish
Christian or supercessionist; or the debate on the (later) Pella marble
chancel screen with prominent crosses and menorah. This book's claims, if
taken seriously, would muddle some important significance of Essenes in
Jerusalem, elsewhere studied more reliably, (as well as Essenes on the marl
terrace [not shore] at Qumran [a new/old cave there had date pits...].
There is a long history of novels and claims related to such subjects.
A recent attempt to exclude Essenes from Dead Sea Scrolls apeared,
unfortunately, in the usually-respectable The Times (London), though not in
news columns but in a features magazine, and not on the web. By Neil Altman
and David Crowder. They claim, e.g., that a number 3 appears--between the
lines--of a scroll. A splotch could thus be imagined (like man in
moon)--but to what use? They assert the scrolls are medieval, and useless
for ancient Bible study. Previously they claimed red ink on the scrolls
proved medieval dates (despite ancient usage, well-known esp. in Egypt),
and that the "the editors" kept the red ink secret--though it was in fact
published in BA, RB, DJD, Anc. Lib. of Q., etc. Previously they claimed
Essenes were post-Christian, among other hodgepodge denials. All to remove
DSS from bible study. 11 August Features Magazine pp 32ff.
In the opposite time direction, recent attempts have offered excluding
Essenes from the scrolls by dating scrolls too early, denying or ignoring
(as Crowder/Altman) evidence to the contrary. Or to move Essenes
geographically away from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, to elsewhere.
An Ein Gedi site (in or out of Ein Gedi? destroyed in 40 BC, with or
without people and tress or a graveyard then and long time?), too small,
too late, wrong place, wrong type, as shown, e.g., in Tel Aviv [journal]
2000. Or unspecified elsewhere. Or pretending no sectarian context in
scrolls. Placing Essenes in the twilight zone is no help for scholarship.
There is an abundance of information on Qumran Essenes, access to that
information is increasing, and yet another found cave this summer.