The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
John2
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

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.
I'll tell you where the four winds dwell, in Franklin's tower there hangs a bell, it can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 4439
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 5:14 pm

Ah, that second "pressure" I wrote should have been "prison" — my brain sometimes....
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

John2
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

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.
I'll tell you where the four winds dwell, in Franklin's tower there hangs a bell, it can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.

archibald
Posts: 258
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:07 pm

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
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

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 arguably 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
Last edited by John2 on Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:11 pm, edited 5 times in total.
I'll tell you where the four winds dwell, in Franklin's tower there hangs a bell, it can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.

John2
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

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, most 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.
I'll tell you where the four winds dwell, in Franklin's tower there hangs a bell, it can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.

John2
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

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 abut 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
I'll tell you where the four winds dwell, in Franklin's tower there hangs a bell, it can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.

archibald
Posts: 258
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:07 pm

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. :)

Post Reply