Foss on celibacy- a reply

Thu, 21 Dec 1995 12:49:37 +0200

> Your Dec. 15th posting on celibacy and the economic consequences thereof
> for the early Christian Church was fascinating as I often wondered where
> the church got the idea, which is definatly- a non-Jewish construct.
> Still today its a Jewish "mitzva" (good deed) to have sexual relations
> with the wife on Friday night and the Rabbinical establishment here in
> Israel determines
> the date on when you can get married to the bride to be, on the basis of
> her menstrual period!!! That is to say, when the woman is most
> fertile, that is the day on which she is to be married. (Reverse rhythm :-)
> Naturally, most secular couples lie about the date to suit their needs
> and not those of the religious establishment.
> With that said, I beg to differ with your short comment about the
> Essene community and their attitude towards celibacy. This idea,
> which today is regarded as untenable, is based on Pliny the Elder in
> which he said that "the tribe of the Essenes has no woman and has
> renounced all sexual desire" (Natural History 5, 73). Subsequent
> research in the cemetery of Qumran shows that 30% of the individuals
> interred there are women and children. Sectarian texts, such as the
> Zadokite documents and the "Rules of the community" clearly show that
> women in Qumran were actively involved in the communal affairs. For a
> concise treatment of this subject see "Reclaiming the Dead Sea
> Scrolls" by L. Schiffman JPS 1994.
> Anyway, we all should remember that 'absolute truth" lasts but 20
> years. Oscar Wilde (I think)
> Joe Zias, Curator of Anthropology/Archaeology
> Israel Antiquities Authority