Josephus the Essene at Qumran?: An Example of the Intersection of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Archaeological Evidence in Light of Josephus’s Writings

Kenneth Atkinson

Abstrakt

The thesis that the Khirbet Qumran community was a branch of the larger Essene movement has dominated scholarship since the discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls. The number of books and articles challenging the theory that the Scrolls found in the caves belonged to a sectarian community that lived at Khirbet Qumran – and that these sectarians should be identified as Essenes – indicates that we are far from a consensus concerning the history of the Qumran history. What has largely been neglected in this debate is Flavius Josephus, who alone among the extant Second Temple Period authors claims to have been an Essene.
This article examines the importance of Josephus as an eyewitness to Essene beliefs and practices in the first century C.E. It suggests that his descriptions of the Essene admission procedure matches the latest version of the Serek ha-Yahad, which documents changes in the practices and beliefs of this sect during the first century C.E. The study seeks to show that the Serk belonged to a sectarian library that is archaeologically connected with Khirbet Qumran and that this library was more widely dispersed among the caves than previously recognized. The article builds on this evidence to propose that we can connect the Serek and Josephus to Khirbet Qumran, and that this text was used as a sort of archaeological blueprint for this settlement. The evidence examined in this article reveals that Josephus is our only extant witness to life at Khirbet Qumran during its later occupational phase (Periods II–III, ca. 4 B.C.E.–73/4 C.E.).

Słowa kluczowe: Khirbet Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, Flavius Josephus, archaeology, Judea
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