2017 NT & Second Temple Judaism

Session 1

Garrick Allen (Dublin City University)

The ‘Rewrittenness’ of the New Testament

This paper explores the ways in which the New Testament functions as a witness to Jewish literary production, focusing on the concept of Rewritten Scripture. I argue that certain New Testament works offer insight into critical discussions regarding Rewritten Scripture as a concept. These early Christian texts lend credibility to the idea that the generic aspects of the Rewritten Scripture are secondary to its identity as a flexible set of exegetical procedures practiced on a scriptural base tradition. I explore this issue by, first, briefly analysing the controversial history of scholarship on rewritten texts. Next, I analyse the ways in which Matthew’s use of Mark constitutes rewrittenness as a test case, supporting this exploration with observations from the relationship between the Gospel of John and 1 John. I conclude with some observations regarding the scope of rewritten scripture, arguing that it represents a process that extends well beyond the confines of Qumran and early Judaism into the literary communities of early Christianity.


Helen Cashell-Moran (Trinity College Dublin)

Revelation (Revealed Wisdom) in James and 4QInstruction

The generic lines between wisdom and apocalyptic are best characterized as being ‘blurred’ or ‘conflicted’ in mid to late Second Temple literature. 4QInstruction, a previously unknown composition found at Qumran, and the NT Letter of James are two fine examples of this. With this in mind, this paper investigates the portrayal of revelation in these two writings. The sapiential teachings of both take as a focal point the revealing of wisdom (e.g., James 1:5 and 4Q417 1 i). The language used to describe revelation will be investigated, and key questions relating to it in both compositions will be explored. For example, why is revelation needed and what purpose does it serve in either? What does James 1:5 mean when it refers to someone as ‘lacking in wisdom’, and how might the purpose of revelation be understood in relation to this? While similarities exist between the portrayal of revelation in these two writings (e.g. both emphasize revelation as being God-given, and both convey it as being necessary for living a wise life), notable contrasts also arise (e.g. the revelation of James helps one lead a wise life, whereas revelation in 4QInstruction seemingly guides one in understanding why this is the right thing to do). Moreover, how this revealed wisdom is to be understood in relation to the revelation of Sinai (i.e. Torah) needs to be established. Is Torah being replaced (cf. 4Q416 2 iii 15-19), or presented as being secondary to revelation, and hence being nevertheless necessary (cf. James 2:17)? All of these questions will be addressed.


Circumcision Recut: Rethinking the Relation between Ethnicity and Circumcision in Second Temple and Pauline Literature

“A wise man’s duty is to be scrupulously faithful to the religious laws of his country, and to refrain from abuse of those of others. Apion was a defaulter to his country’s laws and told lies about ours.” (Josephus, Against Apion 2.144). In his blistering response to Apion, Josephus notes the just and ironic death that came upon him. In rejecting his true identity as an Egyptian and failing to undergo circumcision, Josephus finds it quite fitting that Apion dies due to an ulcer on his foreskin. Against Apion raises questions worth exploring regarding the relationship between one’s ethnic identity and adherence to ethno-religious practices. This paper will examine the relationship between ethnicity and the practice of circumcision in Second Temple and Pauline literature, seeking to explain how this relationship was understood by various authors. Along with the Pauline corpus, of particular interest for this study are the books of Jubilees and 1 Maccabees, and the works of Josephus and Philo. After looking at Second Temple authors (and taking cues from their Greco-Roman contemporaries), I will turn to Paul to see how his perspective on the relationship between ethnicity and circumcision can be understood in the context of the views contemporaneous with him. The history of interpretation has led the majority of scholars to ignore ethnic elements in Paul and to see him as presenting a wholesale rejection of physical circumcision. The goal of this paper, however, is to present a revisionist reading of Paul that shows, like his contemporaries, he had an ethnically situated understanding of circumcision and does not reject the practice outright.


Session 2

George Brooke (University of Manchester)

Some Aspects of European Dead Sea Scrolls Scholarship: 70 Years in 17 Minutes

In this short presentation some brief observations will be made about some of the principal aspects of Dead Sea Scrolls Scholarship in France, Germany, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom. Amongst themes to be highlighted will be the background of DSS Scholars, Research Resources, Textual Criticism, Digital Humanities, Maximalists and Minimalists, and the New/Material Philology.


Benjamin Wold (Trinity College Dublin)

Creation and Sinai in 4QInstruction and Romans 1:18-32

In this paper, I argue that in 4QInstruction the relationship of Mosaic Torah to revealed wisdom (i.e. the raz nihyeh, translated as the “mystery of existence”) has been misunderstood in previous studies. Torah in 4QInstruction is never cited verbatim, but rather is alluded to and at times paraphrased/reworked. There is general agreement that 4QInstruction does not thematise Mosaic Torah and yet it has been argued that there are two explicit references to Torah. In this view, while the word “Torah” never actually occurs in 4QInstruction it is believed that the phrase “He spoke by the hand of Moses” is preserved and that as such was immediately followed by “Torah.” I demonstrate that these reconstructions—of both the phrase “He spoke by the hand of Moses” and the following hypothetical reconstruction “Torah”—are unconvincing. Moreover, I locate three instances in 4QInstruction where traditions that typically refer to Torah in other compositions are taken up and replaced by raz nihyeh. I make a case that in 4QInstruction the mystery of existence encompasses God’s plan from creation to judgment and that Mosaic Torah is subordinate to this revelation of the created order. In conclusion, I turn to implications for reading Romans 1:18-32 where the created order is similarly made known to humanity from the beginning.


Timothy H. Lim (University of Edinburgh)

On Identifying the Wicked Priest in the Habakkuk Pesher

The Maccabean theory that reigned supreme in the past generation of Qumran scholarship equated “the Wicked Priest” with either Jonathan or Simon Maccabee.  This identification is now called into question by the revised dating of the archaeological site of Khirbet Qumran.  In this paper, I will focus on the Wicked Priest in the Habakkuk Pesher, and discuss some preliminary considerations arising out of the preparation of my commentary on 1QpHab for The Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls series.  I will suggest that 1) historical information in 1QpHab is mediated through the memory and teachings of the Teacher of Righteousness; 2) the pesherist imitates the biblical style of Habakkuk, both in its coded expositions and much of what it says about the figure of the Wicked Priest; and 3) the identification of the Kittim as the Romans is an important key to deciphering and identifying the Hasmonean high priest or priests.


Session 3

Philip Alexander (University of Manchester)
James Carleton Paget (University of Cambridge)
Grant Macaskill (University of Aberdeen)
Matthew Novenson (University of Edinburgh)

Panel Review of Matthew Novenson, 'The Grammar of Messianism' (OUP, 2017)

In The Grammar of Messianism, Matthew V. Novenson gives a revisionist account of messianism in antiquity. He shows that, for the ancient Jews and Christians who used the term, a messiah was not an article of faith but a manner of speaking. It was a scriptural figure of speech, one among numerous others, useful for thinking kinds of political order: present or future, real or ideal, monarchic or theocratic, dynastic or charismatic, and other variations beside. The early Christians famously seized upon the title "messiah" (in Greek, "Christ") for their founding hero and thus molded the sense of the term in certain ways, but, Novenson shows, this is nothing other than what all ancient messiah texts do, each in its own way. If we hope to understand the ancient texts about messiahs (from Deutero-Isaiah to the Parables of Enoch, from the Qumran Community Rule to the Gospel of John, from the Pseudo-Clementines to Sefer Zerubbabel), then we must learn to think in terms not of a world-historical idea but of a language game, of so many creative reuses of an archaic Israelite idiom. In The Grammar of Messianism, Novenson demonstrates the possibility and the benefit of thinking of messianism in this way.