Friday, September 28, 2012

The ASOR blog | Article by C. D. Elledge

The ASOR blog | Article by C. D. Elledge -

An Old Problem Gets More Interesting: Resurrection in the Dead Sea Scrolls


Para.2, line 2 - “the Jews of Qumran”
Para.2, line 4 - “the Qumran community”
Para.2, line 6 – “The published Scrolls of Qumran”
Para.3, line 2 – “Qumran seemed to emphasize”
Para.3, line 7 -  “edited by the Qumran community”
Para.3, line 9 – “Qumran’s sectarian ideology”
Para.5, line 2 – “resurrection hope at Qumran”
Para.7, line 2 -  “wisdom Instruction from Qumran”
Para.8, line 2 – “the Qumran community”
Para.8, line 3 – “positively received at Qumran”
Para.8, line 6 – “brought to or copied at Qumran”
Para.8, lines 8,9 - the popularity of both Daniel and the Book of Watchers (1 En. 1-36) at Qumran”
Para.8, line 10,11 – “Qumran certainly did not reject resurrection”
Para.8, line 11, 12 – “ It was a popular hope in multiple writings incorporated into the Qumran library”
Para.9, line 2,3 – “reference to resurrection did not take a prominent role in the sectarian ideology featured in many quintessential Qumran writings”
Para.9, line 5,6 – “resurrection was positively received within the literary corpus that the community adopted”
Para.9, line 6,7,8 – “the kind of reception that resurrection received within the Qumran movement in the first and second centuries B.C.E.?
Para.10, line 1,2 – “One possibility is to view resurrection as an idea that was emerging in a more dynamic and gradual process of reception at Qumran”

Etc., etc., etc.

Get the message? What do you think the old problem was? Somehow I think C. D. Elledge is hooked on the idea that there was a sectarian community at Qumran. It hasn’t occurred to him that the scrolls found at Qumran and around the Judean desert were written in Jerusalem and represent upwards of 500 scribal hands.  They were produced by a long line of priests in Jerusalem. The so-called sectarians were the last priests of Jerusalem. They represented what the priests became. They were barred from or separated from the temple.  They kept themselves separate from the people in their villages.  There never was a community at Qumran.

The scrolls only talk about priests, NOT SECTS OR SECTARIANS.

As for resurrection, has he forgotten about the two spirits, the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit, which everyone has in their spirit? These are definitely in the scrolls, yet Elledge does not mention them.  It was taken for granted that every Jew would know about them, which is why there is little or no mention of the concept of resurrection in the scrolls, or indeed the Old Testament or Jewish literature. In Judaism, bodies were animated by these spirits. They were breathed into bodies by God from birth. The priests believed that when a person died their spirit went down to a waiting place to wait for judgement. On the other hand the prophets believed that their spirit was judged at death. If the spirit was pure it rose immediately to glory.  If it was full of the spirit of deceit it did the opposite.

There is no firm evidence that the Jews had any idea of resurrection.  This is despite academics, such as Christopher Rollston,, trying to force the issue. They quote texts which more than likely have been originated or manipulated by Christians. The Jews believed in a spirit existence after the death of the body. In fact it was the spirit leaving the body that resulted in death. The writings attributed to Josephus have been manipulated (probably by later Christian writers) introducing the vague concept of soul, a sort of half-way house to resurrection.  This is at the same time as Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes are introduced, of which there is no sign in the Scrolls.  There is NOTHING in the Scrolls about soul, Pharisees, Sadducees or Essenes.  Rollston quotes Daniel 12.2 as the locus classicus to justify a belief in resurrection in the Hebrew Bible: “Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting peril”.  But Daniel 12 is not found in any of the eight Daniel manuscripts discovered near Qumran (See Abegg, the Dead sea Scrolls Bible, p 483).

Rollston says in his article:
"Within the Old Testament Apocrypha, the notion of a resurrection is embraced at times as well, with the narrative about the martyrdom of 'the mother and her seven sons' being a fine exemplar of this. Thus, according to the narrative, one of the sons said during the torture that preceded his death: 'the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws' (2 Macc 7:9). Similarly, the mother herself says within the narrative, as an exhortation to her martyred sons: 'the Creator of the world…will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again' (2 Macc 7:23). 2 Maccabees arguably hails from the first half of the 1st century BCE."

2 Macabees is, ARGUABLY, from a later time. Rollston admits he is on sticky ground.  The oldest manuscript is the fifth century CE Codex Alexandrinus, by which time there had been plenty of opportunity for Christians to have  modified the text. The book reflects the ideas of the Pharisees who are non existent in the Scrolls.  My own thoughts are that 2 Mac. 7:9 would have simply said, "the King of the universe will raise us up" meaning God will raise our spirits to be with Him.