Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Intertestamental Summaries...

Test on Friday... here's a summary of where we've been so far:
  • Destruction of Jerusalem, 586BC; Cyrus allows return, 538BC; Temple rebuilt, 516BC
  • Persian period--539-332BC
  • Elephantine papyri--oldest surviving Jewish documents (not including inscriptions), Aramaic papyri from the 400s, indicate a parallel temple existed there, including sacrifices; destroyed 410BC by Egyptian priests
  • 1 Esdras, combination of Ezra material from 2 Chron., Ezra, and Nehemiah; not in Roman Catholic (RC) Bible but in Orthodox; extra story of dinner contest with Zerubbabel
  • Tobit, maybe from Persian period, developing sense of angels and demons (with names), popular magic, has the Golden Rule, almsgiving has atoning value, no sense of afterlife or real return from exile, in RC Bible
  • Hellenistic period--332-63BC, Ptolemies rule from Egypt till 198, then Seleucids from Syria... Romans took over in 63BC.
  • Septuagint, Greek translation of the Law, made in Egypt around 250BC, first Scripture apparently to be translated into another language
  • Letter of Aristeas, the story of the translation of the Law, dates to early 100s BC; 72 translators, considers God the same as Zeus, food laws are explained philosophically
  • Egyptian Judaism around 200BC a bit "unorthodox": Artapanus has Moses inventing Egyptian animal cults; Ezekiel the Tragedian has Moses sitting on God's throne over Israel
  • Competitive historiography in Egypt: Manetho in 200s BC, Egyptian, argues that the Israelites were forced out of Egypt because they were lepers; Demetrius the Chronographer defends Exodus--earliest datable Jew writing in Greek, earliest witness to the Septuagint
  • Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) in Hebrew around 200BC, translated into Greek around 132BC in Egypt; in the RC Bible; poor view of women; no afterlife but how a person dies shows how they have truly lived; good works atone for sin; earliest testimony to the three-fold division of the Jewish canon; Matthew seems to draw on it to compare Jesus to divine wisdom, which Sirach compares to the Law; significant parallels between James and Sirach (slow to speak, slow to anger)
  • Rapid Hellenization of Jerusalem prior to Maccabean crisis (Jason takes it from Onias III by bribing Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Syrian king; Menelaus then does the same, but he is not even a hereditary priest). Onias III murdered. Onias IV goes to Egypt and builds a temple at Leontopolis.
  • Maccabean crisis 167-164BC, thereafter Hasmonians (Maccabeans) rule, first as high priests (Jonathan the first in 152BC), then as kings (Aristobulus the first in 103BC)
  • 1 Maccabees; in RC Bible; dates to early 1st century BC; most accurate source of Maccabean era, including the background of Hanukkah; no sense of afterlife; gives background to what "zeal for the Law" was, who the hasidim or "faithful ones" were; sense of waiting for a prophet to come
  • 2 Maccabees; in RC Bible; dates to early 1st century BC; very theologized portrayal of the actual crisis, perhaps Pharisaic; very strong physical understanding of resurrection, intestines and all, probably not a general resurrection but resurrection of martyrs and unpunished wicked; Judas Maccabeus offers sacrifices so that certain fallen will be resurrected; many argue earliest instance of ex nihilo creation, although most probably date this development to second century AD in conflict with Gnosticism; idea that righteous deaths can satisfy God's wrath toward Israel, bring it to an end; sense that God punishes Israel differently from Gentiles (with Gentiles He stores up His wrath and then obliterates them, with Israel He punishes them as He goes)
  • 4 Maccabees; not in RC Bible; focuses on the 7 righteous brothers story; very philosophical, Stoic; strong sense of substitutionary atonement; immortality of the soul
  • Additions to Esther, 5 Greek expansions interspersed throughout, cleans up some theological issues (like the failure to mention God), fills in other details, Jerome put the expansions at the end of the Hebrew Esther
  • Additions to Daniel: Susanna, Prayer of Azariah, Bel and the Dragon
  • Two versions of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon has two stories--the catching of priest eating food for Bel and Daniel making a dragon explode (then he goes to lion's den again and gets a special visit from Habakkuk)
  • Judith; in RC Bible; a bit of a parable, not meant to be taken literally; stereotypical view of women with allowance for significant exceptions
  • Baruch; in RC Bible; sense of Israel still in exile
  • Letter of Jeremiah; 6th chapter of Baruch in Vulgate and King James
  • Pharisees: "separate ones," about 6000 at the time of John Hyrcanus, most popular group, strong belief in resurrection, "those who seek smooth things" according to Essenes at Qumran, strong sense of common identity, followed well developed "traditions of the elders"
  • Sadducees: descendants of Zadok, possibly upper class, sometimes displaced priests, perhaps often high priests at time of New Testament, less sectarian, rejected Pharisaic traditions of elders and resurrection, had their own purity traditions
  • Essenes: "doers" of the Law; lived communally; some married, most were celibate; Dead Sea community was one such; avoided oath taking; strictest in sabbath observance; rejected legitimacy of Jerusalem temple; multi-year entrance process; well developed angelology; deterministic; immortality of spirits?
  • Revolutionaries: more ad hoc than an organized "philosophy"; Zealots and Sicarii probably came into existence around the time of the Jewish War (AD66-73); Judas the Galilean around 6AD; Theudas in AD45-46; the Egyptian
  • Psalms of Solomon, late first century BC, chap. 17 a principal text on Jewish expectation of a military messiah who would restore the political fortunes of Israel, evokes images of the Roman take-over in 63BC.
  • Josephus, late 1st century Jewish historian, Jewish general in War who surrendered to Romans and in Jewish War claims that God went over to the Jewish side, later Antiquites less worried about putting Romans in a good light. You have to read between the lines.
  • Philo, Jewish commentator on the Law who heavily brought Middle Platonic philosophical ideas to bear on his interpretations


David said...

A very interesting list. Would such a list be possible without the influence of what we have learned from the Dead Sea Scrolls? I applaud you for what looks like pre-canonical thinking.

Ken Schenck said...

I agree that the DSS have vastly expanded our sense of the possibilities. Not sure what you mean by pre-canonical thinking, but I make a distinction between historical thinking and canonical thinking, both of which I consider legitimate. I have problems with those who manipulate historical data by way of theology. But I accept the legitimacy of literary interpretations of texts by way of theology.

David said...

When I got my BA in religion (1979), the implications of the Dead Sea Scrolls (and the Nag Hammadi texts) had not really percolated deeply into overall assessments of the development of either the Hebrew Bible or New Testament canons. So, for example, the other works (apocryphal, gnostic, alternative, etc.) were not covered. For me, this reinforced the perception that they were not worthy of serious study.

In the past 20 years or so, this has changed considerably. I appreciate seeing works (Tobit, Letter of Aristeas, by Manetho, Eccesiasticus by whatever name, Maccabbees (1-4), etc.) taken seriously as sources of valuable information about the late Second Temple period. This is what I mean by pre-canonical thinking, since it does not privilege the works that were later given canonical preference.