The Essenes – The Argument Continues

Rachel Elior has responded to critics on her theory that the Essenes never existed and therefore the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by a different group. She asks how it is possible that this group existed but was never mentioned in any Hebrew sources. She also wonders how the Essenes could be identified with the Dead Sea Sect which was concerned with the Temple and priestly matters, where the Essenes as described by Josephus, Philo and Pliny were not.

Joe Zias responds with some questions of his own, mostly about the all-male cemetery at Qumran which seems to point to a group like the Essenes which excluded women. He points out that the question of who wrote the scrolls must be answered by a combination of textual and archaeological study and that neither one by itself can provide an accurate answer.

Debate on this issue can also be found on Menachem Mendel. See also PaleoJudaica.

Menachem Mendel said it best with this comment: “What a few weeks it has been for the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

UPDATE: More discussion and debate:
Christopher Rollston on Jim West’s blog
Hanan Eshel on Jim West’s blog
Rachel Elior on Jim West’s blog
Jin Yang Kim on Old Testament Story

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One Comment on “The Essenes – The Argument Continues”

  1. priten Says:

    I read about Essenes of Israel when I was doing a study of Jainology (from mumbai university). It is belived that Essenes of Israel were ascetics following the tenets of non voilence (Ahimsa as preached by Jainism). The Essenes had great hold upon the people and they commanded deep influence in Palestine. It is beleived that John the baptise was an ascetic teacher of this school of Essenesim.


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