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Contra Apion and Porphyry
Joseph Baumgarten recently compared an apparent restriction on
sex in 4QD with Contra Apion 2.199 (in Milgrom Festschrift, pomegranates and Be
Bells). The Loeb edition of Contra Apion (also called Against the Greeks)
includes four notes which say, more or less, that what Josephus is
supposedly writing about Jews generally appears closer to the Essenes.
(Josephus, vol. 1, thackeray, ed., first printed 1926)
Several scholars have observed similarities between Contra Apion
and philo's apology for the Jews (also called Hypothetica). That's the book
in which Philo wrote that Moses in effect founded the Essenes--a claim so
surprising that is is often misunderstood or ignored (in eusebius
Praep. Evang. 8.11.1).
Porphyry, who wrote in Greek, but who may have known at least one
Semitic language, wrote on Essenes in his De Abstinentia 4.11. Porphyry
says his sources for Essenes are josephus, War 2 (which uses the Essenoi
form), Antiquities 18, and Against the Greeks book 2. In each case Porphyry
also mentions the correct number of books in each work. Why did Porphyry
have the impression that Against the Greeks (=Contra Apion) book 2
discussed Essenes? Any suggestions?
Stephen goranson UNC-Wilmington
home: 706 Louise Circle J, Durham NC 27705