The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:54 am

Stephan wrote in his second comment:
This stupid theory has a threefold superficiality

1. saying that (a) the Qumran texts are (b) the product of the Essene community
2. saying that the (b) the Essene community were (c) early Christians
3. ignoring the obvious fact that the Qumran texts were produced before early Christianity.
I don't agree with any of that. As I've said a number of times, I see the DSS as being writings that various Jewish sects created or older ones they brought with them when they joined the Fourth Philosophy that were deposited in caves for safekeeping during the 66-70 CE war, similar to what Golb proposes, and I see Christianity as being a faction of the Fourth Philosophy.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:57 am

Stephan,

I don't mind any constructive input, but if you're going to bring your customary hostility to this thread, at least be aware of what I and the DSS actually say.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 9964
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:07 pm

Alright so let's ignore Eisenman's stupid theory. Why not look at why Ephesians 2 and the Mishnah use the same terminology. Let's try something ... less predictable so that we don't end up with 'predictable' answers.

For he is himself our peace, who hath made the two one, and hath demolished the fence (ܣܝܓܐ) which stood in the midst, and the enmity, by his flesh

In the Syriac tradition the syaga is understood as the barrier between the mountain of Paradise and the foothills (in other words, identical with the cherub's sword)
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:05 pm

That sounds like a great idea. Keep me posted. I'm just passing on what some reputable scholars are saying.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

perseusomega9
Posts: 427
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:19 am
Contact:

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by perseusomega9 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:12 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:07 pm
Alright so let's ignore Eisenman's stupid theory. Why not look at why Ephesians 2 and the Mishnah use the same terminology. Let's try something ... less predictable so that we don't end up with 'predictable' answers.

For he is himself our peace, who hath made the two one, and hath demolished the fence (ܣܝܓܐ) which stood in the midst, and the enmity, by his flesh

In the Syriac tradition the syaga is understood as the barrier between the mountain of Paradise and the foothills (in other words, identical with the cherub's sword)
So the spinning fiery sword is the Sun?

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:49 pm

Just for the record, I'd like to put up again what Eisenman says about his argument in JBJ.
... 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 ...
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." The Teacher of Righteousness could be Judas the Galilean, as Unterbrink suggests, or his son Menachem, as Roth suggests, or an unknown prophet named Judah, as Wise suggests, for all I care. And I'm not going to get into an argument about Unterbrink because Judas the Galilean was alive in 6 CE and the Habakkuk Pesher dates to 2 CE (plus or minus however many years). And if we wanted to be sticklers about it and say that it absolutely cannot date past 2 CE, that's closer to the time of Jesus than the gospel of Mark (and is actually several years into it, according to Matthew's dating).

But in any event James and Jewish Christians seem similar to these earlier (and in my view perhaps even concurrent) groups to me, and they all seem similar to the Fourth Philosophy, and I think it warrants investigation. And while I'm not a carbon dating expert, I've read what scholars have to say about it and taken in about as much information about it as I have for what makes me think that human-caused global warming is probably real. I'm as similarly a non-expert in that field, but I similarly don't feel like I need to be one to have an opinion about global warming. (Does everyone who has commented on Peter's global warming thread in the Lounge have to be an expert in global warming to express their opinion about it, or is it enough that they are reasonably informed about it?) My understanding is that carbon dating and paleography (which dates some of the DSS to the Herodian era) gives us a good estimate of the age of the DSS and that there are also other kinds of possible variables (known and unknown).

For examples, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Damascus Document Fragments, Some Works of the Torah, and Related Documents, ed. by Charlesworth (2006) notes that:
The earliest manuscript witness [of 4QMMT], 4Q395, dates palaeographically from the late Hasmonean or early Herodian period. The latest witness, 4Q399, dates to the middle or late Herodian period. 4Q394, 4Q396-4Q398 date to the early Herodian period. The script of 4Q313 dates from the second to the third quarter of the first century BCE. Thus the manuscript witnesses span the period between 75 BCE and 50 CE.

https://books.google.com/books?id=gUK6q ... an&f=false
And The Dead Sea Scrolls in Context; Integrating the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Study of Ancient Texts, Languages, and Cultures, ed. by Lange, Tov and Weigold (2011), suggests the possibility that:
The lower calibrated radiocarbon ages of the Community Rule (1QS) and Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab) around the turn of the millennium and the Common Era, however, could even indicate a date towards the end of the Qumran settlement and the First Jewish Revolt (66-73 CE).

https://books.google.com/books?id=xM7En ... ng&f=false
This is the kind of stuff I typically see, and my impression is that it is a possibility that at least "the doctrines, ideas, and orientations" in these texts could have "flowed full-blown and almost without alteration into the main 'opposition' orientation of the first century CE."
Last edited by John2 on Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:19 pm

Regarding the identity of the "builders of the wall" in the Damascus Document, it's not just a matter of saying that these words are the same or similar to the one that Rabbinic Judaism uses to describe the oral Torah, it's also about the fact that it comes in a text that also mentions the "seeker of smooth things," who are commonly seen as being the Pharisees.

Take the reference to the "seeker of smooth things" in the Nahum Pesher, for example.
Interpreted, this concerns the furious young lion [who executes revenge] on those who seek smooth things and hangs men alive, [a thing never done] formerly in Israel. Because of a man hanged alive on [the] tree, he, shall read, 'Behold 1 am against [you, says the Lord of Hosts'].
This is commonly seen as referring to Alexander Janaeus' crucifixion of Pharisees, as Berrin, for example, discusses in The Pesher Nahum Scroll from Qumran: An Exegetical Study Of4Q169.

https://books.google.com/books?id=zRBHI ... er&f=false

And the Jewish Virtual Library notes that:
Yannai appears at least in two Qumranic compositions. Pesher Nahum is indignant of the way the "Lion of Wrath" took revenge of "those who seek smooth things" by hanging men alive after Demetrius' unsuccessful attempt to conquer Jerusalem (1Q p Nahum 1:2–8). The historical coincidence points to Yannai's deed against his opponents, mainly Pharisees (here surnamed "those who seek smooth things").

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/yan ... -alexander
And while Doudna sees the Nahum Pesher as being concurrent with the time of the Teacher of Righteousness, the fact remains, as he notes, that it is "a Qumran text which never mentions the mysterious figure," nor does it mention the Wicked Priest and/or the Liar, two other figures who are mentioned along with the Teacher of Righteousness in other peshers and the Damascus Document. (Doudna's solution is to see the reference to ""Manasseh" in the Nahum Pesher and the Wicked Priest in the other peshers as being "two names for the same figure, and both allude to Aristobulus II").

http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/200 ... ness.shtml

Maybe so, but the fact remains, as Hartog notes, that "Pesher Nahum refers neither to the Teacher nor to any of his opponents in Pesher Habakkuk."

https://books.google.com/books?id=tyk_D ... ss&f=false

And "Manasseh," whatever it may mean, is never used in the peshers that do mention the Teacher of Righteousness. And the "seekers of smooth things"/Pharisees were on the run when Alexander Jannaeus ruled (and arguably one of the DSS, 4Q448, praises him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4Q448), but in the peshers that mention the Teacher of Righteousness the "seekers of smooth things" were securely in control and in cahoots with those who are called "the kings of the peoples," which in my view better fits the time when Alexander's wife Salome Alexandra, who ruled from 76 BCE to 67 BCE (and who is mentioned in the DSS Priestly Courses) had sole power or after, when the Pharisees were securely in control. She is consequently praised (and Alexander is hated) in Rabbinic Judaism to this day.
She removed the Sadducees (who did not believe in the Oral Tradition, the Torah sheba’al peh), from the Sanhedrin, and installed the greatest scholars of those days in their place, with Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach at their head. With the help of another sage, Rabbi Joshua ben Gamla, he introduced a systerm through which every town of the Jewish land had good schools and pious teachers to teach the young children the Torah. The people were free and happy ...

To bring about such a happy state, Salome Alexandra had to rule wisely, for the members of the Sadducee party had considerable power. Gradually she pushed them out of every important office and position, and restored those sages and scholars who had survived the vicious persecution under Alexander Jannai. Her brother Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach was again at their head. The Sanhedrin was once more the highest court dedicated to carry out the laws of the Torah. Again, education was given into the hands of pious teachers who gave their students knowledge of Torah and the spirit of piety and faith.

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_c ... xandra.htm


So I think it's reasonable to suppose that the peshers that mention the Teacher of Righteousness are later than the Nahum Pesher, after 76 BCE, during this "happy state" of secure Pharisaic control that continued down to the Herodian era (and which is the dating range for 4QMMT above, for example).

And Eisenman points out some good reasons for thinking that these "kings of peoples" that the "seekers of smooth things" were in cahoots with were Herodians. For example, they are said to have married their nieces and engaged in polygamy and remarriage after divorce, practices that were common to Herodians that are noted by other scholars.
According to Josephus, Antipas ... "brazenly broached to [Herodias] the subject of marriage," and she accepted on the condition that he divorce his first wife.

Footnote 17: Hoehner, Herod Antipas pg. 138 n. 4, observes that there were several uncle-niece marriages in the Herodian family.

https://books.google.com/books?id=GvWG0 ... ge&f=false
Josephus mentions nine divorces among the Herodians ... These cases illustrate some of the basic values operating in the family, as well as the reasons that might arise to break the marriage bond.

https://books.google.com/books?id=d3jtC ... ns&f=false
... [the Damascus Document] appears to criticize any man who takes two wives within his own lifetime. This would include those who practice polygamy, remarriage after divorce ...

https://books.google.com/books?id=Z-MDL ... nt&f=false
Damascus Document col. 4 and 5:
...[they] shall be caught in fornication twice by taking a second wife while the first is alive, whereas the principle of creation is, Male and female created He them. Also, those who entered the Ark went in two by two. And concerning the prince it is written, He shall not multiply wives to himself ... Moreover, they profane the Temple because ... each man marries the daughter of his brother or sister, whereas Moses said, You shall not approach your mother's sister; she is your mother's near kin. But although the laws against incest are written for men, they also apply to women. When, therefore, a brother's daughter uncovers the nakedness of her father's brother, she is (also his) near kin.
To my knowledge, these aren't things that are said to have been common to Maccabean rulers.
Last edited by John2 on Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:06 pm

Regarding Maccabean rulers and these prohibitions in the Damascus Document, Sanders notes in Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE-66 CE only that:
Josephus tells one story of a pre-Hasmonean Zaddokite priest who married his niece (he had intercourse with her, not knowing that she was his niece, and married her when he learned her identity; Antiq. 12.185-9). Among the Hasmoneans, a son of Aristobulus II married his cousin, a daughter of Hyrcanus II. Possibly there were other cases.

https://books.google.com/books?id=v1DOD ... ge&f=false
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

John2
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by John2 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:07 pm

I've never had any interest in what Price calls Eisenman's "name game" in his review of JBJ:
Eisenman has developed a keen sense for the "name game" played in the sources. Most of us have sometime scratched our heads over the tantalizing confusions latent in the strange redundancy of similar names in the New Testament accounts. How can Mary have had a sister named Mary? Is there a difference between Joseph Barsabbas Justus, Judas Barsabbas Justus, and James the Just? Whence all the Jameses and Judases? Who are Simon the Zealot and Judas the Zealot (who appears in some NT manuscripts and other early Christian documents)? Is Clopas the same as Cleophas? What's going on with Jesus ben-Ananias, Jesus Barabbas, Elymas bar-Jesus, and Jesus Justus? What does Boanerges really mean? Is Nathaniel a nickname for someone else we know of? And so on, and so on.
But I've always had one person in the back of my mind, a Simon that Josephus mentions in the Antiquities (not long before the James passage) who Eisenman thinks could be Peter. I've never had any real sense of Peter until lately though, and while it doesn't matter to me if this is actually Peter or not, the passage is at least useful for illustrating that there was someone in Jerusalem at the same time Jewish Christians were there in the 40's CE (the ones who Paul calls "the circumcision group" who believed in "works of the law" in Galatians, an expression that is only found in Paul and 4QMMT, which also forbids eating Gentile sacrifices and is dated up to 50 CE) who was similarly "very accurate in the knowledge of the law" and who accused Herod Agrippa of being unclean and polluting the Temple, which is similar to the accusation against "the kings of the peoples" in the Damascus Document who polluted the Temple for marrying their nieces and such like the Herodians commonly did. And he is also said to have given a speech to people (like Peter is said to have done).

But I've always thought it was strange that this Simon ended up acquiescing to Agrippa and begged for his pardon, but now it does kind of remind me of Peter, since Paul portrays him as being a waffler on the issue of ritual purity too, and 1 Peter says to "submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority."

Ant. 19.7.4:
However, there was a certain man of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, who appeared to be very accurate in the knowledge of the law. His name was Simon. This man got together an assembly [ecclesia], while the king was absent at Cesarea, and had the insolence to accuse him as not living holily, and that he might justly be excluded out of the temple, since it belonged only to native Jews. But the general of Agrippa's army informed him that Simon had made such a speech to the people. So the king sent for him; and as he was sitting in the theater, he bid him sit down by him, and said to him with a low and gentle voice, "What is there done in this place that is contrary to the law?" But he had nothing to say for himself, but begged his pardon. So the king was more easily reconciled to him than one could have imagined, as esteeming mildness a better quality in a king than anger, and knowing that moderation is more becoming in great men than passion. So he made Simon a small present, and dismissed him.
Gal. 2:11-13:
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

1 Peter 2:13-17:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Last edited by John2 on Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tell me all that you know and I'll show you snow and rain.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 5832
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:37 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:07 pm
I've never had any interest in what Price calls Eisenman's "name game" in his review of JBJ:
Eisenman has developed a keen sense for the "name game" played in the sources. Most of us have sometime scratched our heads over the tantalizing confusions latent in the strange redundancy of similar names in the New Testament accounts. How can Mary have had a sister named Mary? Is there a difference between Joseph Barsabbas Justus, Judas Barsabbas Justus, and James the Just? Whence all the Jameses and Judases? Who are Simon the Zealot and Judas the Zealot (who appears in some NT manuscripts and other early Christian documents)? Is Clopas the same as Cleophas? What's going on with Jesus ben-Ananias, Jesus Barabbas, Elymas bar-Jesus, and Jesus Justus? What does Boanerges really mean? Is Nathaniel a nickname for someone else we know of? And so on, and so on.
But I've always had one person in the back of my mind, a Simon that Josephus mentions in the Antiquities (not long before the James passage) who Eisenman thinks could be Peter. I've never had any real sense of Peter until lately though, and while it doesn't matter to me if this is actually Peter or not, the passage is at least useful for illustrating that there was someone in Jerusalem at the same time Jewish Christians were there in the 40's CE (the ones who Paul calls "the circumcision group" who believed in "works of the law" in Galatians, an expression that is only found in Paul and 4QMMT, which also forbids eating Gentile sacrifices and is dated up to 50 CE) who was similarly "very accurate in the knowledge of the law" and who accused Herod Agrippa of being unclean and polluting the Temple, which is similar to the accusation against "the kings of the peoples" in the Damascus Document who polluted the Temple for marrying their nieces and such like the Herodians commonly did. And he is also said to have given a speech to people (like Peter is said to have done).

But I've always thought it was strange that this Simon ending up acquiescing to Agrippa and begged for his pardon, but now it does kind of remind me of Peter, since Paul portrays him as being a waffler on the issue of ritual purity too, and 1 Peter says to "submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority."

Ant. 19.7.4:
However, there was a certain man of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, who appeared to be very accurate in the knowledge of the law. His name was Simon. This man got together an assembly [ecclesia], while the king was absent at Caesarea, and had the insolence to accuse him as not living holily, and that he might justly be excluded out of the temple, since it belonged only to native Jews. But the general of Agrippa's army informed him that Simon had made such a speech to the people. So the king sent for him; and as he was sitting in the theater, he bid him sit down by him, and said to him with a low and gentle voice, "What is there done in this place that is contrary to the law?" But he had nothing to say for himself, but begged his pardon. So the king was more easily reconciled to him than one could have imagined, as esteeming mildness a better quality in a king than anger, and knowing that moderation is more becoming in great men than passion. So he made Simon a small present, and dismissed him.
Gal. 2:11-13:
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

1 Peter 2:13-17:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
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 prison and an angel helped him to escape!)
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

Post Reply