The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

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John2
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:57 pm

Ben wrote:
Interesting. Do you think that this Simon's brush with Agrippa could be what lies behind Peter's imprisonment by him in Acts 12? After Peter's escape it is mentioned (in verse 19) that Agrippa spent time in Caesarea, as Josephus mentions, too. Could the prison escape be a cover story for Peter's unseemly acquiescence to Agrippa? (Nooooo, he did not crumble under pressure; he was put in pressure and an angel helped him to escape!)
I don't know, but that's an interesting question. This has all been on the backburner and I'm sorting through it as we speak.
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:14 pm

Ah, that second "pressure" I wrote should have been "prison" — my brain sometimes....
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John2
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:13 am

Ben,

Regarding the Peter-being-Josephus'-Simon idea and its possible relation to Acts 12, it is curious how both passages share the same elements (a brush with Agrippa and reference to Caesarea), and since I already think that Luke/Acts used Josephus, it doesn't seem like a stretch to think that the author could have known (or had the impression) that the Simon in Ant. 19.7.4 was Peter and wanted to whitewash it as you suggest. And it's kind of neat to think of Peter (aka Simon) being in the historical record this way, and if it were the case, it wouldn't be any more "sensational" in my mind than thinking that the reference to James in Ant. 20.9.1 refers to James the Just.
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archibald
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by archibald » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:04 am

John2,

Just popping in to say I'm now about halfway through 'James the Brother of Jesus'.

The DSS are popping up regularly, so it seems clear that Eisenmann is suggesting....you-know-what controversial thesis. But it's also true that it's not essential for much of the rest of his thesis about James. I'm sort of noting it and putting it into a separate mental compartment, since I don't know enough and don't want to conclude anything (about the relationship of the DSS to early christianity).

One thought does keep popping into my head though....has anyone ever made the case that there was no Jesus, only James, that James is the historical 'Jesus'?

It's not as if I need yet another theory. Lol. I'm bamboozled enough as it is.

Sometimes I just wish there was an explanation which really stood out. I might be able to stop trying to investigate it then. :)

John2
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:18 am

archibald wrote:
The DSS are popping up regularly, so it seems clear that Eisenmann is suggesting....you know what controversial thesis. But it's also true that it's not essential for much of the rest of his thesis about James. I'm sort of noting it and putting it into a separate mental compartment, since I don't know enough and don't want to conclude anything (about the relationship of the DSS to early christianity).
Well, in some respects I don't think his thesis is controversial. 4QMMT, for example, which is a letter or collection of letters with ideas that are found in Paul and Jewish Christianity, is paleographically dated up to 50 CE so it could have been known to or created by Jewish Christians.

As Von Weissenberg notes in 4QMMT:
... Hogenhaven, while recognizing the complexity of the genre of 4QMMT, has stated the epistolary form governs the overall structure of 4QMMT, and that the rhetorical features used by the author(s) should be associated with the letter genre. Hogenhaven has followed the classification of the editors and concluded that 4QMMT "exhibits the form of a public letter." Recently, Annette Steudel has repeated the definition of 4QMMT as a literary epistle ... Although several scholars have become cautiously critical of the definition of 4QMMT as a letter, most remain ambivalent and consider 4QMMT as either a real letter or a document perceived as such by the Qumran community. Schiffmann has maintained that 4QMMT "purports to be a letter," even though accepting the possibility that the text might in fact not be a real letter from the early period of the community ... but could also be a later, apocryphal text, created to "express the break, or schism, with the Jerusalem establishment."

https://books.google.com/books?id=_oCFY ... er&f=false
Then follows a discussion of the critics of the letter idea, such as Grabbe, who concludes:
"We don't know who wrote MMT or to whom it was addressed" ... In the end, however, like most scholars, he has remained hesitant in deciding whether 4QMMT is a real letter or a pseudo-epistle.


It looks like a letter to me, but in any event, in addition to using the expression "works of the law" (which is elsewhere found only in Paul) and opposing the eating of Gentile sacrifices (which is discussed by Paul in 1 Cor. 8 and opposed in Didache 6 and by Jewish Christians in Acts 15), MMT also discusses "fornication" (as does Paul in 1 Cor. 6 and 7 prior to his discussion on eating Gentile sacrifices):
As for the fornication taking place among the people, they are (supposed to be) a Holy People, as it is written, ‘Israel is Holy’ (therefore, it is forbidden). Concerning a man’s cloth[es, it is written, ‘They are not] to be of mixed fabric;’ and no one should plant his field or [his vineyard with mixed crop]s. (Mixing is forbidden) because (the people) are Holy, and the sons of Aaron are H[oly of Holy] [nevertheless, as y]ou know, some of the priests and the [people are mixing (intermarrying).] [They] are intermarrying and (thereby) polluting the [holly seed, [as well as] their own [seed, with fornication ...] ...


And this is the second thing on the list of the things that Jewish Christians forbid for Gentiles in Acts 15:19-20:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality ...
And the information is presented as being delivered in letter form in 15:22-29:
Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell.
And the end of MMT quotes the same verse from Genesis that James and Paul use in their letters to defend their positions on "works of the law," and it is possibly addressed to Gentiles since if refers to "your people" and "your good" in contrast to "that of Israel":
Remember the kings of Israel, and understand their works. Whoever of them feared [the L]aw was saved from sufferings; when they so[ug]ht the Law, [then] their sins [were forgiven] them. Remember David. He was a man of pious works, and he, also, was [sa]ved from many sufferings and forgiven. And finally, we (earlier) wrote you about some of the works of the Law, which we reckoned for your own good and for that of your people, for we see that you possess discernment and Knowledge of the Torah. Consider all these things, and beseech Him to grant you proper counsel, and to keep you far from evil thoughts and the counsel of Belial.

Then you will rejoice at the End Time, when you find some of our words were true. Thus, it will be reckoned to you as righteousness, your having done what is upright and good before Him, for your own good and for that of Israel.
This discussion of "works of the law" is similar to the discussion of "works of the law" in Paul and the Letter of James, with James' position being similar to that in MMT:

James 2:20-24:
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without works is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Galatians 3:1-14:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
MMT and the letter in Acts are also written by "we":
And finally, we wrote you about some of the works of the Law, which we reckoned for your own good and for that of your people.
We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.


As noted by Brooke in The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament:
Beyond the overall similarity between MMT and Luke-Acts it is interesting to note that what is planned after the meeting in Jerusalem described in Acts 15 is the writing of a letter informing the recipients of the decisions made; perhaps MMT is best understood not as a letter authorized by an individual (the 'Teacher of Righteousness') but rather as the reporting of decisions perhaps taken in a council setting, not unlike that in Acts 15. This would make better sense of the first-person plural pronoun used in MMT.

https://books.google.com/books?id=t7TSr ... ts&f=false
And Text, Thought, and Practice in Qumran and Early Christianity says that:
MMT has been discussed in comparison with the Gospels and Acts; some have found similarities in their theologies and modes of discourse. But perhaps the closest parallels, in terms of literary form, can be found in the New Testament epistles.

https://books.google.com/books?id=EUawC ... ts&f=false
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John2
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:55 am

In my view, even if MMT was written by Jewish Christians is doesn't necessarily follow that all or many of the DSS are Jewish Christian writings, since, as I've said, I see the DSS as being writings that various groups created or older ones they brought with them when they joined the Fourth Philosophy that were put into caves for safekeeping during the 66-70 CE war, with Jewish Christians being but one faction of them.
Last edited by John2 on Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John2
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:55 pm

I think the followers of the Egyptian prophet, for example, could have written or been inspired by 4QTestimonia (4Q175), which is a short collection of arguably messianic proof texts (half of which are applied to Jesus in Christian writings). These include the prophet like Moses (Dt. 18:18-19), followed by the Star Prophecy (Num. 24:15-17), then a reference to the Levites (Dt. 33:8-11) and then a reference to Joshua. As Vermes puts it, "The first group consists of two texts from Deuteronomy referring to the prophet similar to Moses; the second is an extract from a prophecy of Balaam about the Royal Messiah; the third is a blessing of the Levites, and, implicitly, the Priest-Messiah. The last group opens with a verse from Joshua" (6:26).

So several arguably messianic elements are gathered here (whether they are applicable to one person or not), and the reference to Joshua is interesting because it arguably changes the original context from Jericho to Jerusalem or associates Jerusalem anachronistically with the destruction of Jericho.
... they have rebuilt [this city and have set up for it] a wall and towers to make of it a stronghold of ungodliness in Israel ... [... They have shed blood] like water upon the ramparts of the daughter of Zion and within the precincts of Jerusalem ...
Newsom makes the point that "the city" intended by the author of 4Q175 may be Jerusalem.

https://books.google.com/books?id=ENckD ... em&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=Ne8Zp ... em&f=false

And the Egyptian prophet is said to have gone to Mount of Olives (which has an obvious messianic resonance) and tried to bring down the walls of Jerusalem in Ant. 20.8.6:
Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down.
As noted in The War Scroll. Violence, War and Peace in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature:
Whatever the right interpretation of these texts, a restoration of a holy city by a ruler in Jerusalem would easily be interpreted as a sign of the messianic age.

https://books.google.com/books?id=s27sC ... em&f=false
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archibald
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by archibald » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:23 pm

Thanks. Like I said, I don't feel able to try to offer much of an opinion about the DSS.

I can say that there appear to be parallels, but then when aren't there parallels and where would we be without parallelism? :)

My first problem (and one that I am not going to have time to resolve in a hurry) is not knowing, when Eisenman quotes a DSS document, what dating range that document has been given (though I am hoping that he is not quoting from ones dated BCE when linking the text to CE events).

Secondly, even if a certain text were allowed to be broadly contemporaneous (by using an upper dating limit) there is the question of which parallel informed which, in other words which direction did the influence go (if there was influence, if it's not just 'coincidental' parallelism).

I agree, in principle, that it is not especially controversial (imho, as a non-expert) to link the DSS to christianity, 'in some way'.

I have left that vague and inside inverted commas on purpose. :)

I do also find myself wondering exactly why some people here seem to be so sure Eisenman's particular linkage (as a thesis among others) is so supposedly daft. I guess it is because of the dating, which I agree should, all things being equal, over-rule the internal textual analysis.

But I am definitely not taking sides on it. :)

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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:36 pm

archibald wrote:
My first problem (and one that I am not going to have time to resolve in a hurry) is not knowing, when Eisenman quotes a DSS document, what dating range that document has been given (though I am hoping that he is not quoting from ones dated BCE when linking the text to CE events).
I don't see what difference a pre-first century CE dating for any of the DSS makes given his position in JBJ that:
... such an argument [that the Dead Sea Scrolls are pre-first century CE] changes little regarding the position being developed in this book. All the doctrines, ideas, and orientations, all the exegeses that would then have been current among 'opposition' groups of the first century BC, can then be shown to have flowed full-blown and almost without alteration into the main 'opposition' orientation of the first century CE. Thus the argument of this book remains unaffected. Only the direct textual link to James or some other first century 'Righteous One' or 'Zaddik' would be broken ...
Take 4Q175, for example, which is a collection of arguably messianic proof texts that includes the prophet like Moses and the Star Prophecy (which are applied to Jesus in Christian writings) and Joshua 6:26. It is commonly dated paleographically to the first century BCE, yet it is in keeping with what we know about "opposition groups" of the first century CE (and bear in mind that Jesus was born in the first century BCE according to Matthew's dating). As I said above, "All the similarities between the DSS and Christianity (and for me additionally the Fourth Philosophy) that are commonly noted by scholars that are mentioned in this thread are simply examples of these "doctrines, ideas and orientations" that could have "flowed full-blown and almost without alteration into the main 'opposition' orientation of the first century CE."

There's a nice picture of 4Q175 on Livius.org.

http://www.livius.org/pictures/israel/q ... estimonia/

And the Livius page for the Egyptian prophet inadvertently illustrates the similarities I am seeing between him and 4Q175 (and with Jesus).
Like Theudas, the Egyptian prophet took Joshua (the man who made the walls of Jericho fall; Joshua 6.20) as an example. The Roman governor was rightly alarmed: like Joshua and Moses, the Egyptian claimed to lead the Jews to a promised land without enemies. This was clearly a messianic claim, even though Josephus does not mention it. The nameless Egyptian may have called himself "king Messiah", because Josephus uses the Greek verb tyrannein ("to be sole ruler") in the first quotation. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives was regarded as the place where God would stand on the Day of Judgment, fighting the battle against Israel's enemies.

http://www.livius.org/articles/religion ... n-prophet/


(It is also interesting that the Egyptian prophet was nameless, like certain figures in the DSS.)

To me the Egyptian prophet and Jesus are cut from the same Fourth Philosophic cloth, and the Fourth Philosophy did not arise out of a vacuum. Both of them were prophets who hung out on the Mount of Olives and talked about the walls and stones of Jerusalem falling down and then mysteriously disappeared. And Jesus compares himself with other Fourth Philosophers in Mk. 13:5-6.

Ant. 20.8.6:
Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more.
Mk. 13:1-7:
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple
, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
I see the (non-biblical) DSS as dating more or less as Livius dates 4Q175 (100 BCE to 68 CE), after the time of Alexander Jannaeus when the Pharisees were securely in power. There are plenty of DSS that are dated by paleography and radiocarbon dating to the Herodian era, and I find that what the DSS say is in keeping with this time span as well. Even the Nahum Pesher, for example, which appears to mention Alexander Jannaeus and which I see as being earlier than the peshers that mention the Teacher of Righteousness, must date after the time that he crucified Pharisees since it appears to refer to this event.

Again, the Fourth Philosophy did not arise out of a vacuum. The founders of it were alive before it started in 6 CE (as was Jesus by Matthew's dating), and their mindset seems very similar to the DSS, and the fact that some of the DSS are dated by paleography or radiocarbon dating to the Herodian era illustrates the "flow" of this mindset from the first century BCE to the first century CE (like the use of the expression "works of law" which is found only in 4QMMT, which is dated from 75 BCE to 50 CE, and Paul).
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Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:59 am

To me the idea that the mindset in the DSS which are dated to the first century BCE may have "flowed full-blown and almost without alteration into the main 'opposition' orientation of the first century CE" is similar to the idea that the mindset that opposed the 66-70 CE war carried over to the Bar Kokhba war 60 years later.

Take Rabbi Joshua (who MrMacSon recently posted some citations about here: viewtopic.php?f=6&p=82019#p82019), for example. He was a disciple of Rabban ben Zakkai, who had opposed the 66-70 CE war, and he carried on this mindset up to the outbreak of the Bar Kokhba war. As one of the articles MrMacSon cited puts it:
Not long after Joshua's death his peace-making spirit gave way to the men of violent action. The messianic leader Simon Bar Kochba raised a revolt against Rome that was enthusiastically greeted by Joshua's most influential pupil, Rabbi Akiba. The rebellion ended tragically with more than 100,000 Jewish lives lost and the Jews banned from Jerusalem. That such a rebellion had not been undertaken earlier is thought by many to be due to Rabbi Joshua's influence.
It's worth pointing out that Akiba's position was an anomaly in Rabbinic Judaism, for which he was castigated by other rabbis.
He believed that Bar Kokhba was the Moshiach (messiah), though some other rabbis openly ridiculed him for that belief (the Talmud records another rabbi as saying, "Akiva, grass will grow in your cheeks and still the son of David will not have come").

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/rabbi-akiva


I don't see how this is any different from thinking/supposing/suggesting that the mindset of the Fourth Philosophy was a continuation of earlier beliefs that are found in the DSS.
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