The Essenes and Pliny

Ancient reference at the heart of the association of Qumran with the Essenes
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Details:  The Essenes and Pliny
Essenes and Qumran

The statement by Pliny the Elder that the Essenes lived above Ein Gedi, adjacent to the Dead Sea, has been a matter of contention for those who wish to locate the Essenes at Qumran as well as for those who wish to locate their settlement elsewhere.

The critical term in Pliny's writings is his use of a Latin preposition in describing the location as being, infra hos, which has been correctly translated as “above.”  But in what way did he mean this?  Was it to be considered in a vertical sense or was there some other directional reference given in his writing that would help us understand the term? Joan E.Taylor has examined this question in detail in a chapter of the latest issue of Dead Sea Discoveries. Taylor’s abstract states:

Pliny wrote that the Essenes lived west of Lake Asphaltites, and that infra hos was En Gedi. Some scholars associate Pliny’s reference with Qumran, others with a location above En Gedi. Given that Pliny writes about Judaea by following the course of the land’s remarkable water, it would be most natural to read infra hos as “downstream from them.” The Dead Sea itself has a current, and there was a belief that the lake had a subterranean exit in the south. From a survey of scholarship produced prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it appears that Pliny’s reference was usually believed to indicate a wide region of the Judaean wilderness, understood to stretch from En Gedi northwards and/or inland. When En Gedi was identified in the mid-19th century, the suggestion that Essenes occupied caves just north of and above the ancient settlement was made, but this was not seen as exclusive. If we again read Pliny appropriately, as referring to a region which the gens of the Essenes held, we can move away from either-or dichotomies of possible Essene sites.

The entire chapter can be read at Joan Taylor’s website.  Compliments to Stephen Goransonof Duke University for highlighting this material.



Tags: Archaeology, Essenes, Judaea, Ein Gedi, Joan E. Taylor, Pliny the Elder, Qumran

Greek Lexicon of New Testament

Review and instructions available

Mark Goodacre of NT Gateway highlighted a useful review of the latest version of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd edition). All New Testament students should avail themselves of the details provided in this review, which is written by Rodney J. Decker. Also offered in Decker’s post are several PDF files outlining the appropriate usage of the lexicon for those wishing to benefit from it seriously.

In that the lexicon is available electronically in many of the major Bible software suites, it is worth reviewing Decker's notes to make the most of this great resource. 

Frederick Danker, who edited the 3rd edition, also has another useful Bible study aid in hisMultipurpose Tools for Bible Study, published by Augsburg Fortress Press in 2003. Danker provides a helpful insight into the various types of Bible study tools available.


Tags: new testament, Bible Study Tools, Frederick Danker, Greek Lexicon, Lexicon, Mark Goodacre, NT Gateway, Rodney Decker

The Latest ESV Study Bible

Offering free online access during March
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Details: The Latest ESV Study Bible
ESV Study Bible

Free internet access to the newly released study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) is available during the month of March. 

It's certainly worth having a look at the new resource and taking advantage of its study notes during the remainder of the month.

HT to Leen Ritmeyer of Ritmeyer Archaeological Design.


Tags: ESV Study Bible

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