Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:26 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:22 pm
Ben,

What clues, if any, would suggest that the compilers of the Talmud or the rabbis quoted in it thought that Jesus (the one accepted as the Messiah by the Christians) lived in the first half of the first century?
None that I know of. What clues we get, problematic as they may be, seem to point either to about a century earlier (the Alexander Jannaeus connection) or to about a century later (the Pappos b. Judah connection), I think. Do you have thoughts on that matter?
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Ken Olson
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by Ken Olson » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:01 pm

The only passage I've seen seen someone use to try to place Jesus in the time the NT places him is the one from Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a: 43a
Ulla retorted, “Do you suppose that he [~ Yeshu the Noṣri] was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith, concerning whom Scripture says, ‘Neither shall you spare, nor shall you conceal him’ (= Deuteronomy 13.8)?” With him [+ ישו, Yeshu, + the Noṣri], however, it was different, for he was connected with the government.
Peter Schaefer takes the government (malkuth) to be the Roman government and refers to Pontius Pilate and his reluctance to crucify Jesus (Jesus in the Talmud, 2007, 72-73). I've seen others repeat this claim, but it seems to me that Schaefer is just interpreting the Bavli text in light of the NT accounts, and I haven't seen an argument for why malkuth (kingdom) must refer to the Roman empire unless on first presumes that that's when Jesus lived.

I've also seen Christian apologists claim that Jesus must have existed because otherwise the Jews would have pointed out he did not. I think it's a silly argument because the rabbis in the Talmud, assuming that they actually are referring to Jesus, do not seem to have attached him to the particular historical setting that the Christians do and he serves a variety of rhetorical purposes for them.

Best,

Ken

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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:20 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:01 pm
The only passage I've seen seen someone use to try to place Jesus in the time the NT places him is the one from Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a: 43a
Ulla retorted, “Do you suppose that he [~ Yeshu the Noṣri] was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith, concerning whom Scripture says, ‘Neither shall you spare, nor shall you conceal him’ (= Deuteronomy 13.8)?” With him [+ ישו, Yeshu, + the Noṣri], however, it was different, for he was connected with the government.
Peter Schaefer takes the government (malkuth) to be the Roman government and refers to Pontius Pilate and his reluctance to crucify Jesus (Jesus in the Talmud, 2007, 72-73). I've seen others repeat this claim, but it seems to me that Schaefer is just interpreting the Bavli text in light of the NT accounts, and I haven't seen an argument for why malkuth (kingdom) must refer to the Roman empire unless on first presumes that that's when Jesus lived.
Yes, exactly so. I have read Schäfer before, and I came away with the same basic notion: you need the NT accounts first, before any reference in the Talmud can be seen as connecting to them; it is not independent confirmation.
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maryhelena
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by maryhelena » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:19 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:48 pm
<snip>

First, do we have to assume that the gospel traditions convey history before we can use this Talmudic information as evidence of history?
If one reads the gospel story as an allegory, rather than as factual history, it allows stories about Yeshu to add to an understanding of that allegory. In particular, viewing the gospel allegory as fundamentally a political allegory, allows Hasmonean history to be relevant. So, yes, the time of Alexander Jannaeus becomes relevant to the gospel Jesus story. The Yeshu stories may well be allegories of the Jesus figure in the gospel story but, nevertheless, by bringing Alexander Jannaeus into their Yeshu stories these allegories - or parodies - indicate that more history is involved with the gospel story than the time of Pilate.

Jannaeus is dated 103-76 b.c. The end of the Hasmonean dynasty ended with Herod executing Hyrancus II - dated by Josephus to 30 b.c. Just over 70 years of Hasmonean history. That is the backdrop to the gospel story. Yeshu was hung. Jesus was hung on a cross. Same story different setting, different context. In the gospel context the curse of being hung up was overturned - non-value becomes salvation value. The Yeshu story retains the curse of being hung up. i.e. Jewish writers of the stories were interested in historical reality not NT philosophising.

Consider the DSS where a negative appraisal, the curse of the law, is given to the one hung up alive - the wicked priest. A wicked priest that Greg Doudna has identified with the last Hasmonean King and High Priest, Antigonus. The hung up wicked priest of the DSS; the hung up Jesus figure of the gospel story in the time of Pilate, the Yeshu stories that place the birth of the one hung up in the time of Alexander Jannaeus; stories that reflect either a negative or a positive appraisals of the one hung up.

Civil war in Israel between the two sons of Alexander Jannaeus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Hasmonean history that led to the downfall of the Hasmonean dynasty. A tragedy; a downfall from which the gospel writers managed, by moving away from the curse of the law, to create a spiritual, a philosophical, non-nationalistic, world view. The gospel Jesus story did not wipe clean the slate of Hasmonean history - the negative, cursed, hung up figure is still there - but now, with a resurrection story, this figure displays a positive value of salvation. Out of historical tragedy sprung hope of a new intellectual, spiritual, world.

https://www.academia.edu/12144236/_Allu ... 4Q169_2011_
Greg Doudna

"Allusions to the End of the Hasmonean Dynasty in Pesher Nahum (4Q169)" (2011)

Antigonus Mattathias
was captured in Jerusalem and killed by gentiles in a foreign country.
And of particular interest in light of the allusion in Pesher Nahum is
the fact that Cassius Dio, the Roman historian, says that Antigonus
Mattathias was hung up alive on a cross and tortured in the process of
being executed by Mark Antony.3 In his death at the hands of gentiles
Antigonus Mattathias corresponds with the portrayal of the death of
the Wicked Priest, and Antigonus Mattathias is the only Hasmonean
ruler of the first century bce who does.

And so it seems to me that the wicked ruler of these texts reflects
Antigonus Mattathias, and that the Lion of Wrath alludes to Mark
Antony who hung up alive Antigonus and perhaps other members of
Antigonus’s regime similarly unremarked in Josephus, and that key
Qumran pesharim such as Pesher Habakkuk, Pesher Psalms A, Pesher
Nahum, Pesher Hosea B and others all allude in their various ways to
the downfall of this last Hasmonean ruler, Antigonus Mattathias. And
it is surprising to me that this suggestion seems to be new. Despite
the striking correspondences between Antigonus Mattathias and the
Wicked Priest just named and no obvious counter-indication, so far as
I have been able to discover there has never previously been a scholarly
suggestion that the Wicked Priest might allude to Antigonus Mattathias.
And in asking how Antigonus Mattathias was missed I am
including myself, for I too missed this in my study of Pesher Nahum
of 2001.

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

Ken Olson
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by Ken Olson » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:51 am

maryhelena posted:
https://www.academia.edu/12144236/_Allu ... 4Q169_2011_
Greg Doudna

"Allusions to the End of the Hasmonean Dynasty in Pesher Nahum (4Q169)" (2011)

Antigonus Mattathias
was captured in Jerusalem and killed by gentiles in a foreign country.
And of particular interest in light of the allusion in Pesher Nahum is
the fact that Cassius Dio, the Roman historian, says that Antigonus
Mattathias was hung up alive on a cross and tortured in the process of
being executed by Mark Antony.3 In his death at the hands of gentiles
Antigonus Mattathias corresponds with the portrayal of the death of
the Wicked Priest, and Antigonus Mattathias is the only Hasmonean
ruler of the first century bce who does.
Doudna's identification of Antigonus Mattathias as the Wicked Priest mentioned in the Pesher on Nahum (4Q169) relies on idiosyncratic interpretations of both the Nahum Pesher (4Q160) and Cassius Dio's Roman History.
In the world of the texts the Wicked Priest is killed by gentiles. In Pesher Psalms A this is explicit: God gives the Wicked Priest “into the hand of the ruthless ones of the nations to execute [vengeance] upon him” (4QpPsa 1–10 IV, 8–10). Pesher Habakkuk’s columns VIII and IX refer to “vengeful acts on his fleshly body” and being “delivered into the hands of his enemies” in the context of foreign invasion and in parallel with Pesher Psalms A. And Pesher Habakkuk col. X may allude to this figure’s death happening outside Judea among the nations.
There is only one context in the first century bce with which this portrayal of violent death at the hands of gentiles for a ruler of Israel corresponds, and that is the Roman invasion which ended the Hasmonean dynasty in 37 bce. That Roman invasion was an army sent by Mark Antony to install Herod as king, and it brought a violent and horrific end to the regime of the last Hasmonean king and high priest, Antigonus Mattathias. (Doudna, 262-263).
Oddly, Doudna does not go so far as to quote the text of Dio's Roman History that he cites in support of his identification of Antigonus Mattahias as the Wicked Priest in the Pesher. Andrew Criddle previously posted the text of Dio on this forum (I have added the citations):
The standard translation of Cassius Dio on the end of Antigonus is
These people Antony entrusted to a certain Herod to govern; but Antigonus he bound to a cross and flogged, — a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans, — and afterwards slew him. [Cassius Dio, Roman History, 49.22.6; trans. Earnest Cary, Loeb Classical Library]
The Greek is
ἐκείνους μὲν οὖν Ἡρώδῃ τινὶ ὁ Ἀντώνιος ἄρχειν ἐπέτρεψε, τὸν δ᾽ Ἀντίγονον ἐμαστίγωσε σταυρῷ προσδήσας, ὃ μηδεὶς βασιλεὺς ἄλλος ὑπὸ τῶν Ῥωμαίων ἐπεπόνθει, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἀπέσφαξεν.
This implies that Antigonus was flogged while bound to a cross and later executed. Probably by being beheaded see Josephus.
Now when Antony had received Antigonus as his captive, he determined to keep him against his triumph; but when he heard that the nation grew seditious, and that, out of their hatred to Herod, they continued to bear good-will to Antigonus, he resolved to behead him at Antioch, for otherwise the Jews could no way be brought to be quiet. And Strabo of Cappadocia attests to what I have said, when he thus speaks: "Antony ordered Antigonus the Jew to be brought to Antioch, and there to be beheaded. And this Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod, whom he had made king in his stead; for by no torments could they he forced to call him king, so great a fondness they had for their former king; so he thought that this dishonorable death would diminish the value they had for Antigonus's memory, and at the same time would diminish the hatred they bare to Herod." Thus far Strabo. [Josephus, Ant. 15.7-10]
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=513&p=9016&=doudna#p9024

So Dio says that Antigonus was tied to a cross and flogged, and subsequently executed and Josephus says he was beheaded.

Doudna provides his own translation for the Nahum Pesher (4QpNah or 4Q169). I've attached a pic of the part relevant to his argument below. For those unfamiliar with the Qumran peshers (=commentaries), the text of Nahum is in capital letters (the quoted parts are Nahum 2:12 and 13), and the commentator's interpretation is in lower case, and the modern scholars restoration [best guess] about what was in missing or damaged parts of the text is in brackets.

The quoted portion of the Pesher does not identify who it was who was “hanged up alive”; I don't believe it mentions the Wicked Priest, who is mentioned in some of the other Qumran Peshers, at all. It does mention Manasseh elsewhere, and Doudna identifies Manasseh with the Wicked Priest (FWIW I think Doudna may well be right about that). It's also not clear if God is angry *at* the one who was hanged alive (as Doudna thinks) or *because* of the man who was hanged alive (as Vermes and other scholars think).

The point of this is that there is very little overlap between the texts of Dio and the Pesher Nahum on the specific point that Doudna considers decisive. Doudna can interpret them in light of his historical theory but it's not obvious that the anonymous person hanged alive [on a tree] should be identified as the Antigonus who was tied to a cross and flogged and afterwards executed.

(I am not rejecting widely held theory that the Wicked Priest mentioned in some of the Qumran Peshers was one of the Hasmonean high priests. I am suggesting only that Doudna's specific argument that the Wicked Priest was Antigonus Mattathias based on the comment from Pesher Nahum and Dio's Roman History is completely inconclusive).

Best,

Ken
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maryhelena
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by maryhelena » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:54 am

Ken Olson wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:51 am
maryhelena posted:
https://www.academia.edu/12144236/_Allu ... 4Q169_2011_
Greg Doudna

"Allusions to the End of the Hasmonean Dynasty in Pesher Nahum (4Q169)" (2011)

Antigonus Mattathias
was captured in Jerusalem and killed by gentiles in a foreign country.
And of particular interest in light of the allusion in Pesher Nahum is
the fact that Cassius Dio, the Roman historian, says that Antigonus
Mattathias was hung up alive on a cross and tortured in the process of
being executed by Mark Antony.3 In his death at the hands of gentiles
Antigonus Mattathias corresponds with the portrayal of the death of
the Wicked Priest, and Antigonus Mattathias is the only Hasmonean
ruler of the first century bce who does.
Doudna's identification of Antigonus Mattathias as the Wicked Priest mentioned in the Pesher on Nahum (4Q169) relies on idiosyncratic interpretations of both the Nahum Pesher (4Q160) and Cassius Dio's Roman History.
Idiosyncratic ? Well, good for Greg Doudna. About time someone tries to challenge accepted wisdom...
In the world of the texts the Wicked Priest is killed by gentiles. In Pesher Psalms A this is explicit: God gives the Wicked Priest “into the hand of the ruthless ones of the nations to execute [vengeance] upon him” (4QpPsa 1–10 IV, 8–10). Pesher Habakkuk’s columns VIII and IX refer to “vengeful acts on his fleshly body” and being “delivered into the hands of his enemies” in the context of foreign invasion and in parallel with Pesher Psalms A. And Pesher Habakkuk col. X may allude to this figure’s death happening outside Judea among the nations.
There is only one context in the first century bce with which this portrayal of violent death at the hands of gentiles for a ruler of Israel corresponds, and that is the Roman invasion which ended the Hasmonean dynasty in 37 bce. That Roman invasion was an army sent by Mark Antony to install Herod as king, and it brought a violent and horrific end to the regime of the last Hasmonean king and high priest, Antigonus Mattathias. (Doudna, 262-263).
Oddly, Doudna does not go so far as to quote the text of Dio's Roman History that he cites in support of his identification of Antigonus Mattahias as the Wicked Priest in the Pesher. Andrew Criddle previously posted the text of Dio on this forum (I have added the citations):
The standard translation of Cassius Dio on the end of Antigonus is
These people Antony entrusted to a certain Herod to govern; but Antigonus he bound to a cross and flogged, — a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans, — and afterwards slew him. [Cassius Dio, Roman History, 49.22.6; trans. Earnest Cary, Loeb Classical Library]
The Greek is
ἐκείνους μὲν οὖν Ἡρώδῃ τινὶ ὁ Ἀντώνιος ἄρχειν ἐπέτρεψε, τὸν δ᾽ Ἀντίγονον ἐμαστίγωσε σταυρῷ προσδήσας, ὃ μηδεὶς βασιλεὺς ἄλλος ὑπὸ τῶν Ῥωμαίων ἐπεπόνθει, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἀπέσφαξεν.
This implies that Antigonus was flogged while bound to a cross and later executed. Probably by being beheaded see Josephus.
Now when Antony had received Antigonus as his captive, he determined to keep him against his triumph; but when he heard that the nation grew seditious, and that, out of their hatred to Herod, they continued to bear good-will to Antigonus, he resolved to behead him at Antioch, for otherwise the Jews could no way be brought to be quiet. And Strabo of Cappadocia attests to what I have said, when he thus speaks: "Antony ordered Antigonus the Jew to be brought to Antioch, and there to be beheaded. And this Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Jews so as to receive Herod, whom he had made king in his stead; for by no torments could they he forced to call him king, so great a fondness they had for their former king; so he thought that this dishonorable death would diminish the value they had for Antigonus's memory, and at the same time would diminish the hatred they bare to Herod." Thus far Strabo. [Josephus, Ant. 15.7-10]
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=513&p=9016&=doudna#p9024

So Dio says that Antigonus was tied to a cross and flogged, and subsequently executed and Josephus says he was beheaded.

Doudna provides his own translation for the Nahum Pesher (4QpNah or 4Q169). I've attached a pic of the part relevant to his argument below. For those unfamiliar with the Qumran peshers (=commentaries), the text of Nahum is in capital letters (the quoted parts are Nahum 2:12 and 13), and the commentator's interpretation is in lower case, and the modern scholars restoration [best guess] about what was in missing or damaged parts of the text is in brackets.

The quoted portion of the Pesher does not identify who it was who was “hanged up alive”; I don't believe it mentions the Wicked Priest, who is mentioned in some of the other Qumran Peshers, at all. It does mention Manasseh elsewhere, and Doudna identifies Manasseh with the Wicked Priest (FWIW I think Doudna may well be right about that). It's also not clear if God is angry *at* the one who was hanged alive (as Doudna thinks) or *because* of the man who was hanged alive (as Vermes and other scholars think).

The point of this is that there is very little overlap between the texts of Dio and the Pesher Nahum on the specific point that Doudna considers decisive. Doudna can interpret them in light of his historical theory but it's not obvious that the anonymous person hanged alive [on a tree] should be identified as the Antigonus who was tied to a cross and flogged and afterwards executed.
Nothing is obvious - that's why there are dozens of scholars out there with their own theories....

(I am not rejecting widely held theory that the Wicked Priest mentioned in some of the Qumran Peshers was one of the Hasmonean high priests. I am suggesting only that Doudna's specific argument that the Wicked Priest was Antigonus Mattathias based on the comment from Pesher Nahum and Dio's Roman History is completely inconclusive).

Best,

Ken
OK - so you don't find Greg Doudna's argument compelling. I'm not a DSS scholar/expert but I am interested in the Roman execution of Antigonus. Greg's argument has simply added another, as it were, string to my bow.... ;)

Hasmonean history is the backdrop to the gospel story - sidestep that history and one has closed the door to understanding early christian origins.

I first put up a thread, 10 years ago, linking the Roman execution of Antigonus to the gospel crucifixion story. It's on the FRDB archives.

The historical crucifixion of Antigonus as a model for the Jesus crucifixion story


https://frdbarchive.org/viewtopic.php?f ... e0c06ce51c

andrewcriddle
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:05 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:20 pm
Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 3:01 pm
The only passage I've seen seen someone use to try to place Jesus in the time the NT places him is the one from Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a: 43a
Ulla retorted, “Do you suppose that he [~ Yeshu the Noṣri] was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith, concerning whom Scripture says, ‘Neither shall you spare, nor shall you conceal him’ (= Deuteronomy 13.8)?” With him [+ ישו, Yeshu, + the Noṣri], however, it was different, for he was connected with the government.
Peter Schaefer takes the government (malkuth) to be the Roman government and refers to Pontius Pilate and his reluctance to crucify Jesus (Jesus in the Talmud, 2007, 72-73). I've seen others repeat this claim, but it seems to me that Schaefer is just interpreting the Bavli text in light of the NT accounts, and I haven't seen an argument for why malkuth (kingdom) must refer to the Roman empire unless on first presumes that that's when Jesus lived.
Yes, exactly so. I have read Schäfer before, and I came away with the same basic notion: you need the NT accounts first, before any reference in the Talmud can be seen as connecting to them; it is not independent confirmation.
Just to clarify Peter Schafer's position.

Schafer argues that the references to Jesus in the Talmud are made from a background of (vague) knowledge of Christian claims and are responses to these claims. The Sanhedrin passage responds to the claim that Jesus was judicially murdered by the Jewish authorities with the claim that Jesus had an entirely fair trial.

From Schafer's position (which IMHO is probably mostly correct) interpreting the Talmud references on the basis of the Gospels is clearly appropriate.

Andrew Criddle

StephenGoranson
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by StephenGoranson » Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am

If one dates the earliest mentions (in texts that may possibly be copies of earlier ones) of the Wicked Priest and theTeacher of Righteousness before 76 BCE, then identifications with Antigonus or his brother Hyrcanus II would seem unlikely.

Ken Olson
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by Ken Olson » Mon Oct 12, 2020 4:01 am

StephenGoranson wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:38 am
If one dates the earliest mentions (in texts that may possibly be copies of earlier ones) of the Wicked Priest and theTeacher of Righteousness before 76 BCE, then identifications with Antigonus or his brother Hyrcanus II would seem unlikely.
Stephen,

Is there good reason to date the earliest mention of the Wicked Priest (which document?) before 76 BCE? And does this involve also discarding the identification of the Kittim with the Romans?

Also, I believe Antigonus Mattathias, whom we were discussing, was the son of Aristobulus II, and thus the nephew, not the brother, of Hyrcanus II.

Best,

Ken

StephenGoranson
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Re: Jesus in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, & the Talmud.

Post by StephenGoranson » Mon Oct 12, 2020 5:31 am

Yes, Ken. Thanks for the correction.
A. Dupont-Sommer (1950) proposed that Aristobolus (son of Jannaeus and Shelamzion) was the Wicked Priest. By 1960 Dupont –Sommer changed his mind to Aristobolus’ brother Hyrcanus as the W. P.
Some other people (without attempting a list now) have proposed identifying one of those brothers as W.P. or as Teacher of Righteousness, in some cases--or, more cautiously for the moment, at least one case, not having all publications at hand--involving both brothers in these identifications.
I meant to say that those two brothers are iffy proposed identifications, *if* one accepts as roughly accurate the date ranges given by C14 and by paleography (I know that not all do) for the sect formation, which presumably is the the era of the WP and the TR, and also the possibility that some of the extant relevant mss are not autographs but maybe copies of earlier mentions of the WP and/or TR.
If so, then, the later generation, including Antigonus Mattathias, then, would been even less probable, maybe vanishingly so.
For a collection of proposed datings: Brian Webster, “Chronological Index of the Texts from the Judaean Desert,” in Emanuel Tov, et al., Indices and an Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls, DJD XXXIX (Oxford: Clarendon, 2002), 351-446. Kittim, possibly, could have more than one referent.

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