Alan Crown and Lena Cansdale, “Qumran—Was It an Essene Settlement?” BAR 20:05.


For the reconstructed text MMT, see “For This You Waited 35 Years,” BAR 20:06.



Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), s.v. infra: “to or at a lower level than, below; downstream from; … south of” (p. 903), with a citation from Cicero for the latter.


Jean-Paul Audet, “Qumran et la notice de Pline sur les Esséniens,” Revue Biblique 68 (1961), pp. 346–387; Ernest-Marie Laperrousaz, “Infra hos Engadda: Notes à propos d’un article recent,” Revue Biblique 69 (1962), pp. 369–380. Christopher Burchard responded to Audet in “Pline et les Esséniens: à propos d’un article recent,” Revue Biblique 69 (1962), pp. 533–569.


Some of the authors’ other arguments involve them in difficulties. For instance, they ridicule the idea that the barren Qumran site could have provided the palm trees that Pliny says were the Essenes’ only company (p. 28), but later they suggest that in ancient times Qumran was located near a wharf (p. 73).


All the textual evidence Crown and Cansdale cite for Qumran characteristics is drawn from two sources, the Temple Scroll and the Damascus Document. Though both texts are indeed foundation documents of the sect, the practices they describe are in many cases almost verbatim quotations from the Bible and can’t be considered particular “Qumran characteristics.” In general, Crown and Cansdale seem to overlook the complexity of the texts they quote as proofs. They interpret them literally, without appreciating that all the laws were probably not equally valid for all the sectarians—who probably believed and practiced at a number of levels, as most religious communities do today. See James VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 71–98; and my own Solving the Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls: New Light on the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pp. 82–103.


Eugene Ulrich, “4QSamc: A Fragmentary Manuscript of 2 Samuel 14–15 from the Scribe of the Serek Hayyahad (1QS),” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) 235 (1979), pp. 1–25.


J. van der Ploeg, “Une halakha inédite de Qumrân,” in Qumrân: Sa piété, sa théologie et son milieu, ed. M. Delcor (Leuven: Leuven University, 1978), p. 107.


Crown and Cansdale are careful never to mention the cemetery in constructing their theory.


Norman Golb proposes that the cemetery holds the remains of local Jews who perished in the war with the Romans and that they were all hastily interred at one time. However, the graves themselves are deep and carefully formed and bear no signs of haste, as Pauline Donceel-Voûte pointed out (cf. the discussion appended to Zdzislaw J. Kapera, “Some Remarks on the Qumran Cemetery,” in Methods of Investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site: Present Realities and Future Prospects, ed. Michael O. Wise et al., Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 722 [New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1994], pp. 111–113, esp. p. 112).

The recent discovery of an ostracon (inscribed pottery sherd) at Khirbet Qumran recording the gift of a house and slave to the yahad seems to clinch the connection of sect and site. The text is to be published in the Israel Exploration Journal by Frank Moore Cross and Esther Eshel.


Bryant G. Wood, “To Dip or Sprinkle? The Qumran Cisterns in Perspective,” BASOR 256 (1984), pp. 45–60. Crown and Cansdale assert that the construction of the water system “could [not] have been undertaken with the meager material resources and civil engineering capabilities of the Essenes” (p. 33). But how do these authors know what resources and capabilities the Essenes had? A group that pooled all its resources could well have had considerable capital to wield.


For estimates based on water usage, see Wood, “To Dip or Sprinkle?” p. 58. For estimates based on the size of the assembly hall, see Magen Broshi, “The Archaeology of Qumran—a Reconsideration,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research, ed. Devorah Dimant and Uriel Rappaport (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 113–114.


Broshi, “Archaeology of Qumran,” p. 105.


Hanan Eshel and Magen Broshi, “So Far No Cigar,” BAR 22:02. The report also mentioned that they had found some evidence of contemporary habitation in two of the nearby marl caves, but there still seems to be no proof of long-term intensive settlement within many caves by hundreds of sectarians. As for the lines of stones, when all the data are made public, then scholars can decide whether they agree with the interpretation that Eshel and Broshi have given.


See Joseph Patrich, “Khirbet Qumran in Light of New Archaeological Explorations in the Qumran Caves,” in Methods of Investigation, pp. 73–95.


William Farmer, “The Economic Basis of the Qumran Community,” Theologische Zeitschrift 11 (1955), p. 302.


Frank Moore Cross and Jozef T. Milik, “Explorations in the Judean Buqe‘ah,” BASOR 142 (1956), p. 15.


Hartmut Stegemann, Die Essener, Qumran, Johannes der Taüfer und Jesus: Ein Sachbuch (Freiburg: Herder, 1993), pp. 70, 74.


Stegemann, Die Essener, pp. 77–82.


J.B. Poole and R. Reed, “The ‘Tannery’ at Ain Feshkha,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 93 (1961), pp. 114–123.


Stegemann, p. 79.


George J. Brooke, “The Temple Scroll and the Archaeology of Qumran,‘Ain Feshkha and Masada,” Revue de Qumran 49–52 (1988), pp. 230–231.


Solomon H. Steckoll, “Preliminary Excavation Report in the Qumran Cemetery,” Revue de Qumran 23 (1968), pp. 327–328, with reference to Mishnah Baba Bathra 2.9.


Contra Frank Moore Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), p. 78n.


Most recently and notably, Norman Golb, “The Major Anomalies,” in Qumran Chronicles 2/3 (June 1993), p. 167.


Elisha Qimron, in a recent article, recognized the importance of these passages for the question of Essene celibacy, but without drawing the proper conclusions. See Hershel Shanks, “Here Are the Secret Papers from Madrid,” BAR 19:04; and Qimron, “Celibacy in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Two Kinds of Sectarians,” Madrid Qumran Congress, ed. J. Trebolle Barrera and L. Vegas Montaner (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 287–294. Qimron asserts that there were two kinds of Essenes. One kind was allowed to live an ordinary life, but the other kind was part of an elite company devoted to special holiness, the yahad. Symbolically, the yahad identified themselves with the Temple or with Jerusalem and so were bound to respect the laws that otherwise applied to Jerusalem, including celibacy: “This explains why the members of the yahad were celibates even though they did not live in Jerusalem” (Qimron, “Celibacy,” p. 294).

But Qimron does not explain why the yahad, which he imagines living at Qumran, did not try to live by the other laws pertaining to Jerusalem, such as those concerning the use of animal skins and the placement of cemeteries. The fact is, the members of the yahad were celibates precisely because they did live in Jerusalem.


Josephus, Jewish War 2.8.13.