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