2013 NT & Second Temple Judaism

Session 1

Crispin Fletcher-Louis

The Similitudes of Enoch: Apocalyptic Messianism and Political Theology

This paper will offer three arguments that help us understand the theological shape and formative context of the Similitudes of Enoch. 1. Following some proposals of G. W. E. Nickelsburg and R. A. Argall, it will be argued that the Similitudes developes and replaces the content of a now lost ending of the Book of Watchers. 2. In view of the emerging consensus that the text most likely comes from the reign of Herod the Great and taking up an important discussion of its formative context by Pierluigi Piovanelli, the distinctive characterisation of the Son of Man-Chosen One-Messiah should be seen as part of the text’s response to the encroaching power of Rome and its Ruler Cult. 3. A full understanding of the Enoch-Son of Man figure depends on us recognising his high priestly (not just his royal) credentials. Together, these three arguments will then contribute to a better understanding of the Similitudes’ place in the developing Enochic tradition and to the text’s contribution to a New Perspective on Apocalyptic. Lastly, we will consider some implications of these fresh proposals for the use of the Son of Man title in the gospels. 

This paper will offer three arguments that help us understand the theological shape and formative context of the Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71). 1. Following some proposals of G. W. E. Nickelsburg and R. A. Argall, it will be argued that the Similitudes developes and replaces the content of a now lost ending of the Book of Watchers. 2. In view of the emerging consensus that the text most likely comes from the reign of Herod the Great and taking up an important discussion of its formative context by Pierluigi Piovanelli, the distinctive characterisation of the Son of Man-Chosen One-Messiah should be seen as part of the text’s response to the encroaching power of Rome and its Ruler Cult. 3. A full understanding of the Enoch-Son of Man figure depends on us recognising his high priestly (not just his royal) credentials. Together, these three arguments will then contribute to a better understanding of the Similitudes’ place in the developing Enochic tradition and to the text’s contribution to a New Perspective on Apocalyptic. Lastly, we will consider some implications of these fresh proposals for the use of the Son of Man title in the gospels. 

 

Session 2

Raymond Morehouse (University of St Andrews)

Defining Community through Narrative: A Comparison of Literary Strategies in Damascus Document 2.1-3.12 and Romans 1.18-32

In this paper I will examine the way narrative is employed in the Damascus Document (CD) 2.1-3.12 and compare this literary strategy to Romans 1.18-32. I will argue that while Romans 1.18-32 may not be classified formally as narrative, it contains a narrative substructure that functions very much like the explicit narrative in CD 2.1-3.12.  These two passages contain multiple, non-etiological, mutually compatible sub-narratives that are utilized in several ways.

First, the authors give a theological explanation for sin: human wickedness is, to some degree, connected to divine choice. Second, an anthropological explanation for sin is given that frames present conditions in continuity with paradigmatic, historical examples. Third, past and present sin can be explained as the willful rejection of what is known about either God’s commandments (CD) or nature (Romans). Fourth, neither passage can be construed as an etiology of sin, sin nature, or even a specific kind of transgression. Etiological questions are left unasked and unanswered by these passages. Fifth, these documents situate their audiences within a narrative context which establishes identity both as what they are (the chosen/called) and what they are not (those who willfully reject God), and which denies that ethnicity is itself a sufficient condition for community membership.

This comparison may then help resolve two significant questions in Romans 1.18-32: Who is on the receiving end of Paul’s indictment, and how does this contribute to the formation of the Roman community? If the narrative substructure of Romans 1.18-32 is taken as a set of examples, such as that found in CD, then it is not necessary to make an either/or decision concerning the root narrative or indicted party. Further, if multiple narratives are taken into account then it becomes clear that the indictment need not be restricted to a particular ethnic group but can apply to humanity in general.  If this analysis is accepted then we can read this passage as substantiation of, rather than an anomaly within, a key theme of Paul’s gospel: the transcendence of ethnic identities within the new community formed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

 

Session 3

Expectations of Eschatological Violence in Second-Temple Judaism: The Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, and Implications for Jesus’ Kingdom

This paper will compare the perspectives on eschatological violence found in the War Scroll (1QM) and Josephus’ Jewish War and explore how this comparison can provide a foundation for a greater understanding of Jesus’ critique of revolutionary tendencies in the Judaism of his day.

1QM 10-11 presents the Yehud’s understanding of Israel’s past history and prophetic witness, which caused them to expect that they – the ‘sons of light’ – would be the instruments of God’s victorious judgement upon the wicked in the violent events of the eschatological age. Contrastingly, Josephus offers in JW 5.367-412 an alternative interpretation of the events of Israel’s past and prophetic expectations for the future, in light of the events of 70 CE. It will be argued that the Yehud’s expectations for the eschatological age constitute an analogous form of the beliefs held by the revolutionaries against whose views Josephus composed his argument. Although they did not belong to the Yehud, 1QM embodies exactly the sort of call to arms for the purpose of inaugurating God’s kingdom that Josephus was resisting. Thus, these texts present strikingly different visions of the place of violence in the eschatological coming of God’s kingdom. This precipitates further questions: what exactly was was the full range of beliefs in reference to eschatological violence in the second-Temple period, and what contribution to that picture was made by Jesus, as represented in the writings of the early Christians?

By way of response, this discussion concludes with a preliminary exploration of the implications for the study of the gospels by briefly analyzing Luke 13.1-5 and 19.41-45. Jesus – like Josephus – sees destruction looming for his contemporaries who have embraced zealous violence, and calls on them to repent and embrace his unique vision of the coming of the kingdom. By drawing forth from these pericopae insights resulting from the analysis of the Josephan and Qumranic texts, this analysis demonstrates how investigation into the divergent perspectives on eschatological violence represented in 1QM and JW can provide an illuminating context within which to interpret Jesus’ words in the gospels.