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The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

Joan E. Taylor

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199554485
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745911 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554485.001.0001
The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Ever since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in caves near the site of Qumran in 1947, this mysterious cache of manuscripts has been associated with the Essenes, a ‘sect’ configured as marginal and isolated. Scholarly consensus has held that an Essene library was hidden ahead of the Roman advance in 68 CE, when Qumran was partly destroyed. With much doubt now expressed about aspects of this view, the book systematically reviews the surviving historical sources, and supports an understanding of the Essenes as an influential legal society, at the centre of Judaean religious life, held in much esteem by many and protected by the Herodian dynasty, thus appearing as ‘Herodians’ in the Gospels. Opposed to the Hasmoneans, the Essenes combined sophisticated legal expertise and autonomy with an austere regimen of practical work, including a specialisation in medicine and pharmacology. Their presence along the north-western Dead Sea is strongly indicated by two independent sources, Dio Chrysostom and Pliny the Elder, and coheres with the archaeology. The Dead Sea Scrolls represent not an isolated library, quickly hidden, but burials of manuscripts from numerous Essene collections, placed in jars in caves for long-term preservation. The historical context of the Dead Sea area itself, and its extraordinary natural resources, as well as the archaeology of Qumran, confirm the Essenes’ patronage by Herod the Great, and indicate that they harnessed the medicinal material the Dead Sea zone provides to this day.

Keywords: Dead Sea Scrolls; Qumran; Essenes; Herodians; Dead Sea; Herod the Great

Book.  448 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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Table of Contents

Philo of Alexandria in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Josephus in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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The Herodians of the Gospel of Mark in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Pliny in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Dio Chrysostom, Synesius, and Julius Solinus in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Christian and Jewish Writings from the Second to Fifth Centuries in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Conclusions: The Essential Essenes in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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The History of the Dead Sea in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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Essenes beside the Dead Sea: Qumran in The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

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