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SOCIETY FOR NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES MONOGRAPH SERIES General Editor: G. Stanton 58 JOSEPHUS' DESCRIPTION OF THE ESSENES ILLUSTRATED BY THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS Josephus' Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls TODD S. In particular, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Prof. Fitzmyer, who provided the inspiration for this study during a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1979, and has closely guided the work from those incipient stages up to its present form.

BEALL Associate Professor of Old Testament Capital Bible Seminary The right of the University of Cambridge to print and sell all manner of books was granted by Henry VIII in 1534. I greatly appreciate both his careful scholarship and his gracious encouragement during this endeavour.

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Fourth, Josephus was a Palestinian Jew, and thus almost certainly had better knowledge of a sect located (at least primarily) in Palestine than did Philo, an Alexandrian Jew.

were genuinely interested in their curious beliefs and customs, but through grievous misunderstanding were prone to despise them."5 Thus, in both the Jewish War and Antiquities (and especially the latter work), Josephus is attempting to explain Judaism in the most favorable light to a Greek-speaking world, largely unacquainted with modes of Jewish life and its adherence to the Mosaic Law. 18.1, 2 §11-22 Josephus describes each group briefly, but here in J. he first gives a long explanation of the Essenes {J. 2 §119-61), followed by a few cursory remarks on the other two groups (J. The Essenes, however, are not mentioned in the NT, nor is the name "Essene" found at Qumran.

This apologetic purpose results in a dual tendency towards idealization and accommodation to Greek thought in the writings of Josephus.6 A final apologetic purpose evident in Josephus is his defense of himself. There have been many proposals for the etymology of the group's name,6 only the more important of which will be mentioned here.

Problems in Josephus' account 2 Importance of Josephus' account Josephus' description of the Essenes is uniquely important among the ancient testimonies concerning the Essenes for several reasons.

First, Josephus is contemporaneous with the group (at least in one stage of its history).


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