Monday, November 09, 2009

New Testament Intersections 2: Covenant of Damascus

In an earlier post I went through the "Enochic" literature up to 4QMMT, a document that possibly stands at the very moment of the birth of the Essenes as a distinct sect.

Next I want to look at the Covenant of Damascus, both for clues to the history of the period and for possible intersections with early Christianity. I have not yet thought of significant parallels between the Temple Scroll and the New Testament, other than a general sense that the current temple in Jerusalem was not legitimate as it stood.

Covenant of Damascus
History of Movement (all in I.)
1. A plant sprang up 390 years after the Babylonian captivity--corresponds to the founding of the Hasidim? in the early 100s BC, as also mentioned in the Apocalypse of Weeks (ca. 170BC).

2. Wander for twenty years (ca. 170-150BC)--period of Hasidim involvement in Maccabean crisis

3. Teacher of Righteousness gives leadership to movement about 150BC, presumably when the Scoffer (Jonathan Maccabeus) assumed the role of high priest. The seekers of smooth things are probably the Pharisees, other Hasidim who sided with Jonathan over the Teacher (cf. CD VII).

4. Perhaps flees to Damascus with many Hasidim, where this covenant is formed. Not sure if we should take Damascus literally.

New Testament Intersections
1. The expectation that one would walk "in perfection"? (CD II), although it is hard to find any NT writings that use the word "perfection" in relation to holiness or ethical behavior in general

2. Mention of following "the way" in association with Damascus (CD II; Mark 1:3; Acts 9:2)--very interesting!

3. Talk of a "guilty inclination" (CD II; cf. James 1:14)

4. Mention of Holy Spirit (CD II)

5. Mystery of God's forgiveness (CD III; Rom. 11; Eph. 4)

6. glory of Adam (CD III; Rom. 3:23; Heb. 2:10)

7. elect within Israel (CD IV; Rom. 9)

8. Use of the word "Belial" for Satan (CD IV; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:15)

9. Mention of the tradition of Jannes and Jambres (CD V; cf. 2 Tim. 3:8)

10. Expectation of a king messiah (e.g., CD VII) who is also a priest messiah (e.g., CD B II)

11. A new covenant (e.g., CD VIII; 1 Cor. 11:25)

12. “angels of holiness in their midst” (CD XV); some say relevance to head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11 (Fitzmeyer), although I don't see it

13. Jesus counters the saying “You shall keep your vow” (Matt. 5) with you should not swear. This saying is mentioned as binding in CD XVI, making one wonder if Jesus and James are reacting to some overemphasis on vows?

14. The collective group is called the “assembly” (e.g., XII), which is ekklesia (church) in Greek.

Very interesting. Very difficult to know the weight of any one parallel. How widespread, for example, was using Belial for Satan? But the more "blips" on the parallel screen, the more likely we should see early Christianity at least partially growing out of Essene soil.

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