Friday, November 06, 2009

Some New Testament Intersections 1

I was fascinated to see Geza Vermes, who is Jewish, use the language of the "intertestamental" period in his revised Dead Sea Scrolls Translated. Early Judaism would seem to be the more accepted term in neutral scholarship. But fascinatingly, he seems to be speaking of the years 160ish BC to AD70 or so, presumably because he considers Daniel to have been finished in the late 160s BC.

Thought I would gather some notes on important parallels between the next phase of my intertestamental class and the New Testament:

Book of the Watchers (ca. 200BC)
  • Jude 14-15 of course quote 1 Enoch 1.
  • Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4; and 1 Peter 3:19-20 all seem to refer to the story of angels having sex with human women in 1 Enoch 6 and following, based on Genesis 6.
  • first recorded journey apocalypse, which relates to revelation
  • 1 Enoch 22 is perhaps the earliest differentiation of the dead in the underworld in Jewish literature.
Astronomical Book (ca. 200BC)
  • no significant parallels
Aramaic Levi (ca. 200BC)
  • perhaps earliest example of "testament" genre, begins to raise (along with 1 Enoch) the issue of pseudonymity, how it was understood in terms of genres of literature
  • only in the most general way stands in the anti-current temple and need for legitimate priest tradition
Apocalypse of Weeks (ca. 170BC)
  • excepting Daniel from discussion, oldest historical apocalypse
  • only in the most general way stands in the "new age around the corner" tradition
Dream Visions (ca. 160BC)
  • first real anticipation of a messianic figure around the corner in intertestamental literature
  • continues sense of coming regathering of Israel from exile (or could be interpreted to mean general resurrection, but I go with the former)
Jubilees (ca. 150BC)
  • "rewritten Scripture," illustrates the acceptability of recasting biblical stories sometimes in quite remarkable ways (e.g., Mastema rather than God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac)
  • 23:20 mentions returning Israel to "the way," meaning the way of righteousness (23:21).
  • possible eternal existence of righteous spirits, but no resurrection (23:31)
4QMMT (ca. 150BC--"Some of the Works of the Law")
  • Possibly sent from the founder of the Essenes, the Teacher of Righteousness, to Jonathan Maccabeus as he received the title of high priest in 152BC, possibly witnesses the origins of the name "Essene" as "doers" of the Law as one subset of the Hasidim coalesces around a disenfranchised priest descended from Zadok
  • Provides important background to the phrase, "works of Law" in Galatians and Romans, where it relates directly to intra-Jewish squabbles over the particulars of keeping the Law, especially as the Law related to matters of purity, calendar, and so forth

more to come...

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