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Mike Aubrey

Thanks for this, John. I've been waiting for a good level headed response. This is it.

Rachel Elior

Lets assume for a moment that there are some similarities between the Essenes and the Rule of the Community, [although very insignificant in comparison to the content of the Rule of the Community speaking on Covenant, on priestly leadership, on righteous and pious ways relating to keeping the ancient priestly calendar and the commandments, on angels and priests, on blessings to the priests of the house Zadok and on blessing to the High Priest] but what about the other 999 scrolls that do not reflect any similarity to any of the Essenes descriptions? while manifesting great textual and contextual similarity to the priestly sources of the bible and to the priestly laws of 'the priests of the house of Zadok' [known in English as Saducees and in rabbinic Hebrew as Zedokim]as described in rabbinic sources?


Rachel (if I may),

Thanks first of all for the link to your homepage. Secondly, thank you for wading into a field that is not your own, and shaking things up a bit.

There are four lines of evidence and argumentation which cause trouble, perhaps irreparable trouble, for the way in which you frame the debate:

(1) A "consensus" scholar of the caliber of Emanuel Tov notes that "many of the biblical scrolls were apparently brought from other places in ancient Israel . . . it appears that Qumran was inhabited by Essenes (possibly identical with the Boethusians mentioned in rabbinic literature) whose halakhic practice may have derived from the that of the Sadducees, as suggested by an analysis of 4QMMT (see Sussmann*). . . It is . . . very important to clarify the place of origin of the texts found in Qumran. Some were apparently written in Qumran, while others were brought there from the outside. (Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed., Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001) 102).

In a series of articles, Tov has proposed "criteria for distinguishing between these two groups [Qumranic as opposed to extra-Qumranic provenance] referring to orthography, morphology, and scribal practice" (103; for details, see 107-111, op.cit.).

In short, your "1 vs 999" comment is way off base.

(2) Jodi Magness is the most eloquent defender of the consensus view from an archaeological point of view. She carefully argues her case in a number of places. Here are Magness's conclusions, in the hot-off-the-press article on “Qumran” in the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2009) 4:705-709:

Recently proposed theories that interpret Qumran not as a sectarian settlement but as something else (e.g., villa, manor hours, commercial entrepot, fort, potter manufacturing center) divorce the scrolls from the site of Qumran; in other words, advocates of these theories argue that the inhabitants of Qumran did not use and deposit the scrolls in the nearby caves. This argument is disproved by archaeology, as the same types of pottery, some of which are distinctive to Qumran, are found in both the scroll caves and in the settlement. Furthermore, all of the alternative theories create more problems than they solve in terms of understanding the archaeological evidence. (709)

With respect to the largest room in the Period 1b settlement (L77), that it functioned as a communal dining room and assembly hall seems certain, given the adjacent pantry (L86) which contained over 1,000 dishes. Claims to the contrary notwithstanding, it is not the case that De Vaux’s hypothesis that the large room in the center of the main building in Period II is a “scriptorium” has been disproven. The hypothesis has been called into question, which is well and good, but not disproven. As Magness notes, “The debris of the second-story level yielded long, narrow, mud brick tables and a bench covered with plaster, as well as a plastered platform and inkwells (article cited, 707-708).

Select Jodi Magness Qumran Bibliography

The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002); Debating Qumran: Collected Essays on Its Archaeology (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion 4; Leuven: Peeters, 2004); “Qumran: The Site of the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Review Article,” RevQ 88 (2007) 641-64; “Qumran” in New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Katherine Doob Sakenfeld et al., eds.; Nashville: Abingdon, 2006- ) 4 (2009): 705-709

(3) The rabbinic sources, unlike Philo or Josephus, are not coeval to the period in question, and do not, at least in their current edited form, present us with univocal data (to put it mildly) in terms of Saduccees, Pharisees, Boethusians, minim, etc., of the Second Temple period. The kind of problems noted by Eckhard Schnabel in his article on the “Pharisees” in the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2009) 4: 485-496 are encountered in any attempt to uncover information about the historical "Sadducees" through references to Zedokim in rabbinic sources.

(4) Other conscientious attempts at identifying a set of sectarian documents among those found in the caves of Qumran need to be addressed and refuted before your "1 vs 999" comment will be taken seriously. For example, Newsom, Carol A. "‘Sectually Explicit’ Literature from Qumran." The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpreters. Ed. W. Propp, B. Halpern and D. N. Freedman. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990. 167-187.

John Stuart

Dear John FH

What you are dealing is a Essene Cult.

Have a close look at my comments on 1st of February 2011 who will see that one of the comment was of course 100 percent right.

But you have a problem on Pharisees and John Hyrcanus.

There was two important events that happened

Josephus recounts a split between the Pharisees and Hyrcanus 1st this is the same period when Alexander Jannaeaus to reign Josephus also made another example and there was a motive of Pharisees in the rumour that Hyrcanus mother had been a prisoner-of-war her son would not be High Priest.

Could Josephus perhaps have confused two events, namely the Essenes break with Hyrcanus.

If so no date can be set to the rise of the Essenes.

John Stuart

John Stuart

Dear John FC

I have the connection to Alexander Jannaeaus as Lion of Wrath Onias 3rd as Teacher of Righteousness of the Qumran Sect see H.H Rowley The Zadokite Fragments and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Menelaus as Wicked Priest and Jason as Man of Lies

Menelaus and Jason sided with Tobiads the Jewish Faction while Onias 3rd and Simon the Just sided with the Oniads Zadokites authors of Dead Sea Scrolls.

John Stuart

John Stuart

Dear John FC

Menelaus and Jason were the tobiads in order to kill Onias 3rd because Menelaus has to see governor called Andronicus sided with " Wicked Priest" which is Menelaus.

Jason was the Man of Lies in Qumran literature.

John Stuart

John Stuart

Dear John FC

I have the information on the Origin of Essene and Qumran

In the following statements:

AND FROM THIS TIME ON THE ESSENES EXISTED AS AN ESOTERIC MINORITY SECT. (Note: When modern scholars assert that the Essenes of Qumran were founded about 200 years before the time of Jesus, they are correct in regard to that one Essene group at Qumran; but the overall Essene movement is far more ancient.)

The fact that Enoch was considered the "founder" or "initiator" of the Essenes can even be seen in his name; the word "Enoch" means in Hebrew: "founder", "initiator", "centralizer". A modern scholar, Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, in

Both men had personal knowledge of the ancient Essenes; thus, what they tell us has a high degree of credibility. In regard to the origin of the Essenes, neither Josephus nor Philo can give a specific date, but both make clear that the Essenian roots are incredibly ancient. Josephus declares that the Essenes have existed "from time immemorial" and "countless generations". Philo agrees, calling the Essenes "the most ancient of all the initiates" with a "teaching perpetuated through an immense space of ages". Josephus and Philo -- as well as several other ancient writers including Pliny the Elder -- are in consensus on two points in regard to the origin of the Essenes:
1.   Their origin is lost in pre-history with certain ancient legends linking them with Enoch;
2.   There was a major remanifestation of the Essenes by Moses at Mount Sinai.

headquarters of the entire Essene movement was Mount Carmel in Northern Israel, not Qumran in Southern Israel, and that Jesus was primarily associated with Carmel.

Qumran, the Essene Monastery where John the Baptist lived (and where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered), was in Southern Israel. THERE IS SOLID CONSENSUS AMONGST SCHOLARS THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS FROM QUMRAN: the location on the Jordan river where tradition tells us John performed his baptisms is exactly where the Jordan river connects with the Dead Sea near Qumran, and everything we know about John matches up perfectly with what is known about the Qumran Essenes.



There is no consensus of the kind you assert. There is no evidence that either John the Baptist or Jesus had an intimate connection with the Essenes.

You are building sandcastles on the slimmest of foundations. If the reasons you give for your theories are the only ones you have, then your theories must be rejected out of hand.

John Stuart

Dear John FH

scholar in particular, Norman Golb, offered a “more nuanced”i version of Karl Heinrich Rengstorf’s Jerusalem library theory.ii Following the suggestions of a fortress proposed by the early explorers Isaacs,iii Finn,iv Masterman,v Dalman,vi and Avi-Yonah,vii Golb also suggested that Qumran was established as a fortress.viii Golb followed de Vaux’s dating of the initial construction at Qumran to the middle of the Hasmonean period, between 140 and 130 BCE,ix thereby blending the earlier Qumran fortress theory with de Vaux’s timeline. However, Golb made the mistake of suggesting that Qumran served as a fortress throughout its existence, from the time of its establishment until its destruction in 72 CE.x This view has been categorically rejected by all subsequent archaeologists, including those who disagree with the Qumran-Essene hypothesis in favor of a Jerusalem origin for the scrolls.xi Regarding Golb’s hypothesis, Philip Davies says, “it has received a good deal of publicity, but (predictably) little assent among other experts.”xii
The most recent theory that understands Qumran to be initially founded as a fortress during the Second Temple period comes from the present author. I concluded that Second Temple period Qumran was established as a Hasmonean fortress around 140-130 BCE. The fortress was later abandoned after the expansion of the Hasmonean Kingdom to the south, and the military assets from Qumran were redeployed to newer forts on the expanding southern frontier.xiii The site of Qumran was later reoccupied and expanded in a communal, non-military fashion by other Jewish settlers, who possessed a keen concern for self-sufficiency and ritual purity. These sectarians were ultimately responsible for the collection of many of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the adjacent caves.

The present debate concerning the archaeology of Qumran appears to now be divided into two camps. One camp continues to accept de Vaux’s original Qumran-Essene hypothesis in one form or another. While changes to the chronology of Qumran and the percentage of scrolls produced there vary, this camp holds to the conclusion that sectarians constructed Qumran for their own purposes and that these sectarians produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. The dissenting camp argues that Qumran’s Second Temple phase was not of sectarian origin, but of a secular, military origin. This camp therefore concludes that the Dead Sea Scrolls were not the product of sectarians living at Qumran, but had some other origin and were only placed in the nearby caves coincidentally.
It appears, however, that much of the reasoning behind rejecting the identification of Qumran as a fortress is related to de Vaux’s earlier identification of Qumran as a sectarian center. Scholars may have been reluctant to embrace the fortress theory because until now, every scholar who has accepted the fortress theory has ultimately rejected Qumran’s association with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Hirschfeld, Magen and Peleg, and the few others who understood Qumran to have been initially established as a fortress all denied any sectarian presence at Qumran. Likewise, scholars who had accepted de Vaux’s final interpretation of the site as an Essene center, and thereby accepted that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the product of the inhabitants of Qumran, may have been cool to the suggestion that the site was originally a fortress due to the fact that all of the supporters of a fortress theory have denied any sectarian presence at Qumran. Thus, despite the fact that several early explorers initially understood the structure to be a fortress, many Dead Sea Scrolls scholars have been slow to accept recent evidence that shows Second Temple period Qumran was established as a Hasmonean fortress.
The conclusion to divorce a sectarian presence, and thereby the Dead Sea Scrolls, from Qumran due to the fact that it was initially established as a fort has been an unfortunate leap in reasoning and an unnecessary jump to conclusion. It is not necessary to divorce the scrolls from Qumran in order to accept the identification of its earliest phase as a fortress. It is possible that Qumran was established as a fortress, and that this fortress was later abandoned as the Hasmonean Kingdom pressed its frontier farther to the south and east. Different Jewish settlers could have later reoccupied the abandoned remains of the small fort. This is the very model employed by Hirschfeld, Magen, and Peleg, with the exception that they understand the reoccupation to be of a secular nature. There is no reason why those resettling the abandoned fortress could not have been independently minded Jewish sectarians, who were ultimately responsible for the collection and production of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the adjacent caves as Humbert has suggested. Since those proffering a secular resettlement of Qumran have all accepted some form of a reoccupation model at Qumran, there should also be no reason to deny that Jewish sectarians, engaged in several self-sufficient industrial endeavors including agriculture, pottery manufacture, animal husbandry, food processing, and writing, may have reoccupied the site. A reoccupied fort that was gradually converted into a sectarian residence not only fits well with the most recent research at Qumran, but also bridges the interpretations of Qumran’s early explorers including Isaacs, Finn, Masterman, Dalman, Avi-Yonah, and even initially de Vaux himself, with the strong evidence for the presence of a sectarian settlement responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls.


I take it, then, that you realize that your penultimate post is without foundation.

Now you cut and paste without attribution from an article by Bob Cargill. John Stuart, you are a pest, and an unethical one at that. You are hereby banned from this blog.

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    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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