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Excursus I: The essenes of Josephus’ war

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Chapter Summary

In a Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS)-based reading of Josephus' Essenes, much of his own description must be sidelined to accommodate the hypothesis. This chapter introduces the notes, which have to do with understanding War's Essenes contextually, by providing an overview of the passage and its context in Josephus. It considers some historical issues at the end. Excursus II will do the same for King Agrippa II's major speech, which has likewise usually been mined for other purposes, without much regard for Josephus' context. The importance of the Essene passage for Josephus' literary aims is borne out by the concentration of charged, thematic language within it. The conditions that favored the Qumran-Essene hypothesis have changed dramatically in the past half-century, however. Contrast Josephus' contemporary, Plutarch - albeit addressing fellow- élites and apparently not considering the needs of ordinary people.

Keywords: Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS); Josephus; King Agrippa II; Plutarch; Qumran-Essene hypothesis



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