Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prof. Joan E. Taylor Disagrees with Golb (See her book The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea)


Joan's book published in 2012 could almost have been written in 1995 when Golb produced his work Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Her book shows that confusion still reigns in the minds of many Scroll scholars who still insist that Essenes wrote the Scrolls at Qumran, as she does.   I hope to compare some aspects in both books and occasionally come up with some conclusions of my own.  Among the numerous books that I have read on the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is none that compares to Golb's for the detail of his personal involvement with the history and the characters of it.   

One conclusion I have, is that Joan's Essenes (Josephus's Sicarri) are priests who wrote the Scrolls.  But in reality,  Essenes are prophets.  We will see how the Essenes were given the title as a deliberate misnomer by both Philo and Josephus (or a later editor of their works) to deceive. The confusion has been perpetuated by scholars.  Priests wrote the Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area, as this blog attests.  The 'seekers of smooth things' and the 'wicked priest', mentioned in the Scrolls, were prophets.  The priests who wrote the Scrolls, in particular the pesharim, thought that prophets 'flouted the Law'.  The priests couldn't bring themselves to describe the 'seekers of smooth things' as prophets.  The 'wicked priest' was a priest by inheritance, but converted to the prophets, which was one reason why he was called 'wicked' by the priests.  He was of course Judas Maccabeus, a priest from a family of priests.  For the writers of the New Testament Judas was made synonymous with the disciple who betrayed Jesus.  

We owe our views of Essenes largely to Josephus, a proverbial liar. In his story, Josephus had himself appointed a general leading the charge in Galilee, a place for which there is no archaeological evidence for Vespasian being present.  In this case absence of evidence is evidence.  Joan sets out to define who the Essenes were. But I can find no reference (at least in the Index of Subjects, which is comprehensive) to the ‘seekers of smooth things’ and their leader the ‘wicked priest’. These were the unnamed, deadliest enemies of Joan's Essenes.  So if Joan wishes to define Essenes, she must also define their enemies. 

There are two parties in the Scrolls. One defines the other.  The two groups were poles apart. What one group was, the other was not. Joan's Essenes (the priests) were keen on keeping the whole Jewish law.  For the prophets, the keeping the whole Jewish Law written down by the priests was an irrelevance.  The prophets were interested in following 'the laws of their fathers' passed down probably orally.  The prophets kept the moral part of the law with much less emphasis on the ceremonial.  According to Joan's Essenes, their opponents sought 'smooth things' and 'flouted the Law'.  At one time the 'seekers of smooth things' had a leader who according to the Scrolls was a 'wicked priest'. So we have two questions to answer.  Who were Joan's Essenes who she says were the writers of the scrolls, and keepers of the whole Jewish law?  And who were the 'seekers of smooth things' who 'flouted the Law in the congregation' (as the Scrolls state).  My views are in the second paragraph.  I find it staggering that Joan has nothing to say about the 'seekers of smooth things'.  

And even worse Joan has nothing to say about the way the pesherim, written by her Esseneshad polluted the books of the prophets.  Not that the prophets would have bothered at the time of writing because they were all dead (that is according to most scholars).  I think the prophets were very much alive.  When we read the Scrolls we are getting just one side of the story, the priests view, particularly of 'the seekers of smooth things'.  And you only have to read the War Scroll to realise how zealous and ferocious the writers of the Scrolls were.   No wonder Joan says that Josephus describes them as a military 'battalion' or a military 'order'!  I don't trust Josephus. Most biblical scholars cannot believe what their eyes are telling them.  I approach his writings with a great deal of skepticism.  In any case, I don't believe Josephus was talking about military orders.  While explaining Judaism to his Roman readers, he (rather the original author of Antiquities) had in mind priestly orders, and particularly two (not three), the order of priests and the order of prophets. Joan's Essenes were no military 'order' in the sense of a Roman army.  But they had many characteristics similar to modern day terrorists.  And yes they did occupy Qumran for a short period at the beginning of their revolt, as they did Machaerus and Masada.  

Joan's Chapter 2 - Philo (Prophets turned into Essenes)

Was Philo the Earliest Writer About Prophets?  Philo is apparently a much bigger, cleverer, verbose liar than Josephus.  He takes ten words to say one of Josephus's. For the Embassy to Gaius, Philo has approximately 34,000 words.  Josephus has approximately 3,100 (see Ant.18.8).  That fact alone makes me think that Philo's works were edited by someone who knew the text that was in Josephus's writings.  On page 24, Joan considers that Philo's discussion of Essenes is the earliest extant text, being produced in the middle 20s CE.  This is very strange given that Moses was their legislator.  But much of what Philo has written about so-called 'Essenes' we only know because of a fourth century Christian Bishop, Eusebius, who quotes from 'lost' works of Philo which were probably destroyed deliberately. I cannot help thinking that Philo's works have been edited by a later writer, probably Eusebius.  Did Philo originally write things as he really saw them.  I think he did.  I think he was an honest broker.  For the term Essenes he would have used prophets. Eusebius had a motive for changing the text.  He didn't want to speak about prophets who didn't sacrifice, relied on the Spirit for cleansing, and didn't keep the whole Law, because that would have compromised Christianity.  Not only was Philo infected but also later writers were able to quote Philo as though they were stating facts.       

The Embassy to Gaius - A Pack of Lies  The story about an embassy to Gaius, in both Philo and Josephus was undoubtedly a cover for real events concerning disputes between prophets and resurgent priests who took their protests to king Agrippa.  The Embassy is a fabrication inserted in both author's works. In Ant.18, why would Gaius upset Agrippa (18.8.4) by wanting his statue erected in the temple when he had just given Herod's estate to Agrippa (Ant.18.7)?   The character of Gaius has suddenly been changed from being pro Agrippa to being against Agrippa.  Gaius wanting to erect his statue in the Temple was a complete fabrication.  There was no protest by Alexandrian Jews and Greeks to Gaius.  The characters Apion and Philo suddenly appear out of the blue, as though they were fictitious creations.  And Philo's editor creates that much bigger story.    

Two Natures of Jewish Society  Have you ever wondered why in all of his works Philo has much to say about priests and Essenes (really prophets) yet nothing about Pharisees or Sadducees? Here we see Philo's honesty that he really was talking about priests and prophets.  Philo didn't utter one word about Pharisees and Sadducees.  They obviously didn't exist.  Philo's editor (probably Eusebius) slipped up by not including them. And why does Philo, a Jew living in Egypt, a contemporary of Essenes the priests, recognise Essenes the prophets, as the 'prime example of the outstanding nature of the Jewish religion at least three times', according to Joan on page 22 of her book?   Joan mistakenly writes as though the Jewish religion, at the time of Philo, was of 'one nature'. That may have been true before Judas Maccabeus, but not around the time Philo was writing.  The prophets were ruling the temple, and the priests were exiled from it.   

On page 23, Joan writes that for Philo,  the Essenes, the prophets, "were representative of the whole of Jewish society", and were not "living on the fringes", as most scholars say they were.  Joan's Essenes were priests.  The priests were living living in exile from the temple in Jerusalem and in every town and village.  The prophets were also living in Jerusalem and every village and town, but they were the ones controlling temple worship at the altar of incense.  Animal sacrifices by the priests had been abolished. That is why Joan could write that Josephus states three times (there was probably more occasions originally) that the Essenes (really the prophets) were representative of the whole of Jewish society. I presume she would include Jewish kings also.  Most Jews were then following the prophets. The Hasmoneans, Herod (who had a Hasmonean wife),  the Herodians and Agrippa were following the prophets, not the priests. The priests had been outcasts from the temple since the time of Judas Maccabeus. 

Did Philo write for a Largely Non-Jewish Audience?  On page 23, Joan writes: 'Moses gets a mention as the lawgiver of the Jews (Prob. 29), but - strangely without the same dazzling compliments' which Philo attributes to Greek philosophers.  On page 24, Joan writes that Philo was writing for 'a largely non-Jewish audience skilled in Stoic philosophy'.  But there were large communities of Jews living in Egypt at the time, many of whom probably spoke Greek and had sympathies for the Essenes (the prophets) and Stoic philosophy.  The reason for Moses not being reported in glowing terms by Philo was that Moses was responsible for the Jewish Law which legislated for priests and prophets.  Philo died about 25 years before Vespasian came to power, so unlike Josephus, he was free to speak his mind. 

Where Have the Prophets Gone in History?  Prophets seem to be missing in our considerations.  Where have they gone to?  Were the Essenes in actual fact prophets?  Was the wicked priest descended from a priest, but turned prophet.  Why would prophets be turned into 'Essenes'?  I suggest it was because Josephus was opposed to the very existence of prophets and called them Essenes to obuscate. Josephus made it appear that Essenes had caused the War, saying that they had gone through all sorts of torment by the Romans (War 2.152) under their leader Judas the Galilean (War 2. 118).  This was Josephus fabricating and transposing an account of Judas the Maccabean and the dreadful time the prophets suffered at the hands of Antiochus from Antiquities to his fabricated history of War.  Josephus thus, in effect, shifted the blame for the Jewish revolt from the priests to the prophets in a false account created for War.  

The Essenes were prophets.  Scholars subsequently confused the situation further by calling the writers of the Scrolls, who were priests, Essenes, with an etymology for which there is no Jewish equivalent.  Philo even linked the Essenes' to the Graeco-Roman philosophers. (See pages 24 and 25 of Joan's book).  Philo tells us that Essenes did not sacrifice animals.  Josephus was less explicit.  According to him, the Essenes had 'sacrifices' of their own'.  I suggest those sacrifices were of incense on an altar of incense.  And it wasn't to keep their minds holy, as Philo's editor says (Prob.75), but their spirits pure.    

Philo's Editor a Roman Propagandist  It is clear to me that Philo's Editor was just another Roman propagandist like Josephus. Neither Josephus nor Philo's editor would admit to the existence of prophets. They twisted and obfuscated the meaning of prophets and made them harmless Essenes. The scholars have agreed with them.  They are afraid to question their own belief, whether Christian or Jewish. Josephus or Philo's editor invented the term Essene.  As far as I know, no other Jewish writer used this term.  On line 2 of page 26, Joan implies that all Jews used the term Essene to describe a people that lived among them. This is not true.  There were only two Jews that used the term Essene, Philo's editor and Josephus.     

Joan's Chapter 11 - The Dead Sea Scrolls

A Rapid Deposit
Joan writes on page 302, "With over 4000 Essenes living all over Judea", there would have been hundreds of small libraries."  She was attempting to explain the large number of Scrolls found in the Dead Sea area.  She invites us to believe that these 4000 Essenes were responsible the vast quantity of Scrolls documents, and that Essenes came from all over Judea to dump or hide their precious Scrolls by the Dead sea for no apparent real reason. Naively, she quotes 1QS 6:6 "And where there are ten, they will not lack a man among them who will not study the Law both day and night."  Of course this was the 'Law written down by the priests', but the prophets were interested in the 'the laws of their fathers'.  'The laws of their fathers' were more like recalled traditions which required them, for example, to be out working doing manual work during the day, not staying up day and night. If she wants to play the numbers game, she should think how many priests there were. There were approximately 30,000. They had plenty of time to write and study because they imposed on the people for their sustenance, and it seems begged from the Jewish and Roman authorities with written contracts.  When 1QS 6.6 was written, the priests were living in exile from the temple. From the time of Judas Maccabeus they had no temple duties to bother about.  

She claims (see pages 276 and 277) a strong linkage between natural Caves 1Q-3Q, 6Q and 11Q with the site of Qumran.    This she says was because in these caves, the type of jar used to put the scrolls in was the same type as found in the site itself.  She ignores the fact, as do most Qumranologists including De Vaux, that Qumran was a site for the manufacture of pottery.  When the rebel priests occupied Qumran by force (as they did Masada), they found jars in which they could preserve their Scrolls.  The rebel priests probably knew in advance that pottery was to be found there.  Golb says something similar.  He says that those who wished to hide the scrolls could have asked the locals for help.  (See Golb:Page 30, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls). 

Further she writes on page 277, "We also have a strong linkage of the artificial marl Caves 4Q, 5Q, 7Q-10Q since they lie within the occupation area of the Qumran settlement."  In other words a resident of Qumran would have been well aware of them.  Again the rebels would have been quick to hide their Scrolls in these Caves, particularly if they had filled up others further away..  It seems from her book that the scrolls in these Caves were less secure and were not placed in Jars for preservation.  The rebels probably ran out of time and space and would have used the Caves as a last resort.  

Her comments (pages 276 and 277) are wiped out by the fact that no fragments of the massive number of texts were found in the Qumran site itself.  And as Golb says, in effect, on page 61 of his book, no geographic terminology has been found in the texts that indicate a connection with the site, and even more widely no connection with places of habitation in the Judaean wilderness.  In the 1960's Golb had expected that de Vaux, with his knowledge of the site, would have in some way demonstrated decisively a link between the nearby Caves and the site.  Golb was thinking that perhaps de Vaux and his other workers had found some decisive inscriptional or pottery evidence of such a link.                

According to Golb, more than 500 scribal hands, or copyist's styles (none are original), are represented in the Scrolls found near Qumran. (See page 154 of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  It was from the pool of 30,000 priests that the 500 scribal copyists must have come.  It is highly improbable that 4000 Essenes could have produced 500 people with the necessary scribal skills.  Golb further says, on page 154, that the Scrolls could only have come from libraries in Jerusalem.  They were documents of the priests who had been barred from the temple.  These documents had been collected by Aggripa and stored in his archives.  Those archives were in the citadel, misnamed the Antonia.

Joan attempts to link the scrolls and the caves in which they were kept, to the long term residence of Essenes at Qumran.  Back in 1970, Golb was questioning a number of people including Yigael Yadin and W.F. Albright, saying that "no legal documents were found in Qumran". Golb was referring to the type of documents that any organisation produces in its day to day running.  Albright (a believer in the Essene hypothesis) wrote to Golb, "Essenes must have had very important community documents, such as deeds, leases, wills and official letters to other leaders of the Essene world."  None have ever been found apart from the Copper Scroll, and some seemingly insignificant framents.  This is a big hole in Joan's argument. 

Golb has shown that in a site that contained an Essene community for a long time, as described by Joan in her book, there should have been legal documents which reflect the activity of the movement.  On page 60 of his book, Golb writes:"In 1982, however tiny fragments of what appear to be four or five documentary texts from the caves were published.  Thereafter, small portions of fifteen documents were included among the Photographs of the unpublished texts that appeared in 1991.  These latter texts, as well as they could be understood by 1994, appear to consist of accounts of grain sales, lists of witnesses, and deeds of purchase; there may also be an acknowledgement of debt from the reign of Herod (ruled 37-4 B.C), and an act of ownership dating to the reign of Tiberias Caesar (ruled 14-37 A.D.)  They all reflect the private ownership of goods and property, a fact basically inconsistent with the principles of communal ownership laid down in the Manual of Discipline."  So these documents have no connection with the site of Qumran. But they were taken along with other documents by priests from Jerusalem, and from a particular place (Agrippa's archives in Jerusalem) before they set fire to them (War 2:427).  These documentary texts clearly escaped the fire, probably accidentally in their hurry to bring them over to Qumran.  They are extremely like the sort of texts which Josephus speaks about.  These were about contracts which the 'Sicarri' (had made with their creditors. The 'Sicarri' hoped to avoid having to settle them.  War 2.427: "after which they carried the fire to the place where the archives were deposited, and hurried to burn the contracts belonging to their creditors, and thereby to dissolve their obligations for paying their debts."  Of course Josephus is silent about who owed what to whom, which speaks volumes.  The priests had been disenfranchised from the time of Judas Maccabeus.  No money was coming from the temple.  Immediately before the fire in the archives, the priests burnt the palaces of Agrippa and Bernice (and supposedly the house of Ananias the so-called high priest - no high priest had been appointed since the time of Judas Maccabeus).  Ananias has been brought into the story in preparation for his supposed death with his brother Hezekiah at the hands of the 'Sicarri' whilst hiding in an aqueduct (War 2.441).  The real person hiding was King Agrippa.  The intervening story (War 2.433 to 441) about Menahem the so-called son of Judas the Galilean and the Romans is a fabricated insertion.  In their haste it seems that the rebel priests let some of the contracts slip through the net and they finished up at Qumran. This I believe was along with the vast quantity of Scroll materials from Agrippa's archives. These were not sorted and could have contained all sorts of manuscripts.         

The deposits are so large and randomly distributed among the caves that those storing them must have been overwhelmed by the quantity.  Those who concealed the manuscripts expected at some stage to recover them.  As Joan says, all the manuscripts were not preserved in Jars.  The deposits have all the hallmarks of being done hurriedly.  She struggles to give a reason for hiding these scrolls.  The manuscripts were clearly readable and usable when they were deposited near the Dead Sea.  They came from Agrippa I's archives which the priests set fire to after they murdered him.  Agrippa had gathered up the priests manuscripts from wherever they were produced and kept them under lock and key.  He intended to use the scrolls as evidence. It was also to prevent their messianic message being spread.  In his account (War 2.441), Josephus substituted the name of a so-called high priest Ananias for king Agrippa who in reality, was killed by the priests, after being found hiding in an aqueduct.  At the same time, (see War 2.433), Josephus obfuscates and says 'Judas the Galilean' took 'some men of note' with him and broke into 'King Herod's armoury'.  This was the start of the priests rebellion against the king and the king's forces, with an attack on Masada.  Romans were nowhere in sight. The 'men of note' were priests.  'King Herod's' armoury was king Agrippa's. Judas the Galilean was a substitute, probably for Ananus the son Ananias.             

Rengstorf was nearly right when he said that the Scrolls came from the temple and that they were authored by priests (see pages 161-2, Golb: Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls).  Golb: Rengstorf rightly said that a number of the texts did give prominence to the priests who described themselves as sons of Zadok, unlike Joan, who makes a link between the Essenes and the site of Qumran. In her book, I cannot see any reference to the sons of Zadok or even to priests.  So who does she think wrote the Temple Scroll, if not priests keen on animal sacrifice?  But they were not stored in the temple because that was occupied and controlled by the prophets.  The prophets would have considered them as polluting.   After the death of the king, the priests raided Agrippa's archives, took their Scrolls, and probably a great quantity of other manuscripts.  These included the Copper Scroll, a record of treasure which the priests stole in the time of Judas Maccabeus.     

Archaeological evidence shows that Qumran was destroyed by a Roman army.  Strangely Josephus does not appear to cover this event (Josephus edited Nero's true war record to give the impression that the invasion occurred in another place, ie Jotapata in Galilee. (See my post - The Roman Attack on Judea in the Summer of 66 CE ). In 66 CE, the Roman army, under the command of Nero, attacked the rebel priests, who had occupied Qumran, Machaerus and Masada.  Nero was to take his revenge for the murder of his friends.  

There are only three places where there is archaeological evidence of Roman attacks in Judea during the first century: Qumran, Masada and Machaerus. (There is no such evidence of an attack on Jerusalem.)  The priests had captured these fortresses from their Idumean and Herodian guards. The Roman's took these fortresses simultaneously in the Autumn of 66 CE (see my Post The 'Circumvallation' Wall at Masada).  The Roman strategy was to hit these fortresses hard and take them by storm in a matter of days.