The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls may not be who we think they were?

Say it ain't so!

"Elior, who teaches Jewish mysticism at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, claims that the Essenes were a fabrication by the 1st century A.D. Jewish-Roman historian, Josephus Flavius, and that his faulty reporting was passed on as fact through the centuries. As Elior explains, the Essenes make no mention of themselves in the 900 scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd."

A fabrication? Really!?! I'm shocked!!! One of us atheists need to warn this poor scholar that she shouldn't try to point out contradictions in Christian lore. Doing this usually brings out the un-Christian side of Christians.

"Elior is braced for more criticism of her theory. 'Usually my opponents have only read Josephus and the other classical references to the Essenes,' she says. 'They should read the Dead Sea Scrolls — all 39 volumes — the proof is there.'"

Did she really suggest they read??? How quaint. This lady obviously never goes outside to interact with people - so naive! Proof? What really is proof. It's just a word!

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Replies to This Discussion

i'm afraid i have to disagree with your assessment here. belief in the existence of the essenes amongst scholars is not held out of any sense of duty to dogma. most scholars doing serious research in this area are not fundamentalist christians by a long shot. there were and are good reasons to believe in the existence of the essenes, and none of them had anything to do with the veracity of christianity. rather, they were reasons of scholarship and evidence.

i think it will take some time to see if elior's theory has merit. historical biblical/textual scholarship is a real field of study, and should not be confused with religious ideology.
historical biblical/textual scholarship is a real field of study, and should not be confused with religious ideology.

True, biblical scholarship should not be confused with religous ideology. However, religious ideology is often confused with biblical scholarship.
yes, quite right.
So there was a lack of truth and accuracy in reporting even back then? Wow! I didn't think Fox News was that old.
yes, very well put*. it also may not be entirely accurate [or perhaps overly-simplistic] to say that there is no mention of the essenes in the DSS. there are some who contend that "essenses" [εσσενοι, etc] may come from the DSS' "torah followers/doers" [עושי תורה]. if this is so, then a case exists that the essenes are mentioned several times in the DSS.

I agree wholeheartedly with your criticism of elior for positing the argument that the essenes did not faithfully keep the torah. that argument is weak on many levels, and could conceivably be used to argue against the existence of any jewish group. it completely ignores the evolution of torah interpretations and the environments in which they arose.

that having been said, that the essenes were a product of josephus is an interesting idea. i would be interested to see how it would alter eisenman's theories about the origin of jesus christ.

*thank you for mentioning mason. i am a fan of his josephus and the new testament.
i would need to dig out my books to comment much more about "osei torah", as it has been a while since i have done any serious work in this area.

that the essenes were obsessed with the apokaloupsis is not an uncommon idea [at least i think it isn't]. regardless, your observation about their eschatological beliefs is exactly the kind of contextual variable i had in mind when i mentioned the weakness of elior's argument regarding torah observance.

thank you for the interesting conversation,
I know that she was referring to Biblical scholars, but you can't tell me that religious fundamentalists aren't going to read her work and take offense to it. Multitudes of preachers and especially Sunday school teachers have been telling people about the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls for years. I know because I was in those Sunday school classes. Many of those teachers are not very accepting of the fact they have been teaching the wrong information, so it doesn't matter that her work was intended for biblical scholars. There is going to be an entirely different element taking offense.

I found the article and I found it interesting, so I presented it in this forum. I left two paragraphs from the story to give an overview. Then I left two attempts at witty banter. I didn't leave an assessment to be disagreed with. I typed my little comments in jest, not in serious thought.
sorry if i have offended you-->certainly not my intent. i don't think anyone disagrees with your contention that some christians may take offense. i think we may be confused by the intent of your comments because the audience to which elior refers is composed of biblical scholars, while you seem to be speaking about fundamentalist christians. The context makes it seem like you are addressing the scholars, and we are disagreeing with the notion that perhaps biblical scholars don't read, etc.




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