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Re: orion-list Bannus and Josephus
_The Life_ 12 says Josephus spent three years with Bannus, at which time
Josephus was 19 years old. The three years discipleship is sometimes
compared with the initiation period of Essenes (cf. 1QS vi 21). And yet the
scrolls indicate that twenty years of age was the minimum for admittance into
the community (1QSa i 8-9). This seems to imply either that Bannus was not
operating by Essene principles or that the Essenes were not operating under
the guidelines of the scrolls. Yes?
There also seems little correlation between the vegetarianism of Bannus
and Essene practices. I observe that _The Life_ 14 also mentions that
certains priests arrested and sent to Rome under Felix, acquaintances of
Josephus, "had not forgotten the pious practices of religion, and supported
themselves on figs and nuts." There is no indication these priests were
Essenes. A vegetarian diet was normal Jewish practice in a pagan environment
where meats might have derived from pagan sacrifices. See for instance Dan.
1:8-16, which may have provided the Biblical example followed by Judah
Maccabee at 2 Macc. 5:27.
However, it does seem significant to me that both Bannus and Judah
Maccabee spent a period in the wilderness eating a vegetarian diet. In the
case of Judah, this was immediately prior to his becoming a leader of the
revolt against the Seleucids occupying Judea. Was Bannus consciously
modeling himself on Judah Maccabee? The Jewish revolt was inspired in part
by the famous Maccabean uprising of earlier days. There were a number of
prophets and revolutionaries operating out of the wilderness during this
time. It seems likely to me that Bannus was one such anti-Roman
revolutionary. If so, then the period Josephus spent with Bannus might have
had more to do with politics than religion. Naturally, Josephus would not
have emphasized that he spent his youth among wilderness insurgents, passing
it off as part of his religious education. But it is relevant to note that
he was active in defending priests sent to Rome on political charges and was
later a general in the Jewish uprising. And the Bannus passage does occur in
_The Life_, whose manifest purpose it do defend Josephus against various
charges others had raised against him. So perhaps his time with Bannus is
not as innocent as he would lead his readers to believe.
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