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Novels, Exclusions, Essenes

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  • goranson
    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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2001
      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.

      Stephen Goranson
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