Thank you Charles,
Perhaps I should be thinking of the Essenes as more of an educational organization-much like the Jesuits of the last 2 centuries-where the elite would send their progeny for education. Like the modern Jesuits, the political activism and the commentary that arises from their inherent association with, say, for example Opus Dei, would be entirely separate from their primary role as teachers and instructors- and therefore the significance of Jesus and James' participation may be overstated.
I'm not sure it was the path you intended for me, but I appreciate the links and as usual, you have sent me careening down new avenues of inquiry. It's so difficult to assess the true significance of Qumran- some would have us believe that it was "the" center; others that it was merely a quilt sewn together from the cloth of Sicarii, Nasorean, Zealotes etc. We have so much evidence, and yet none. Yet your work constantly reinforces the center as the Herodians and it should- for the evidence of the historical Jesus are just as elusive as they are for Solomon, and for they same reason!
I found the reference to L. Gardiner interesting: having read his work, it is always difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. But, as a discerning reader, he always seems to provide enough to keep going and not dismiss him outright as a nut. His genealogy work seems very good however, and much of what he contributes seems to have no other sources. He clearly has a lot to add- and I'm heartened to hear you grant him say- if only that it makes me feel like less of a nut for owning his books- for which I take some grief from some of my friends. I take it, therefore, that you place some stock in the general thesis of the foundation of the royal houses of europe out of Herodian stock, and perhaps too, in his assertion of the escape of Jesus and Mary, their children, and the Merovingians. The subject fascinates me, and I'm wondering at what point your work will include the subject of freemasonry and templarism which is where it led me.
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