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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Apocalyptic Visions

New Testament & Christian Apocrypha: Collected Studies II  by Francois Bovon and edited by Glenn E. Snyder (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Nuen Testament: Moher Siebeck) This volume of collected studies reflects François Bovon's two major fields of research: Luke-Acts on the one hand, and early Christian Apocrypha on the other. He insists on the ethical and missionary practices of the early Christian communities. The apostle Paul's ethical concern is presented not as an opposition between good and evil, but as a crescendo from the good to the best. The authority of John, the author of the Book of Revelation, is described in a nonhierarchical way as the care of a brother for his brothers and sisters rather than of a father. Women's ministry is attested in recently discovered portions of the Acts of Philip. This collection of essays shows also how doctrinal positions were reached in the middle of strong tensions. Such is the witness of the Fragment Oxyrhynchus 840 in favor of a spiritual purification. François Bovon is also attentive to the reception of the earliest Christian documents in Late Antiquity. As a whole he describes aspects of early Christianity in its variety but also in its unity. 

Expectations of the End: A Comparative Traditio-Historical Study of Eschatological, Apocalyptic and Messianic Ideas in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament by Albert L. A. Hogeterpon (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah: Brill Academic Publishers)  Since a fuller range of Qumran sectarian and not clearly sectarian texts and recensions has recently become available to us, its implications for the comparative study of eschatological, apocalyptic and messianic ideas in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the New Testament need to be explored anew. 'This book situates eschatological ideas in Qumran literature between biblical tradition and developments in late Second Temple Judaism and examines how the Qumran evidence on eschatology, resurrection, apocalypticism, and messianism illuminates Palestinian, Jewish settings of emerging Christianity. The present study challenges previous dichotomies between realized and futuristic eschatology, wisdom and apocalypticism and provides many new insights into intra-Jewish dimensions to eschatological ideas in Palestinian Judaism and in the early Jesus-movement.

There are a number of problematic issues concerning the comparative study of eschatological ideas in Qumran, late Second Temple period Palestinian Judaism and emerging Christianity. These issues need to be addressed, before a traditio-historical study of eschatological, apocalyptic, and messianic in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament can be undertaken. First, the author discusses the definition of eschatology and problems of comparing Qumran eschatology with other sources about eschatology in Second Temple Judaism (section 1). Second, on the part of New Testament scholarship, discussion of previous debate about Jesus and eschatology will introduce the other side of the traditio-historical comparison (section 2). The subsequent chapters two and three  specifically turn to eschatology in Qumran sectarian and non-sectian texts in comparison with other corpora of early Jewish texts and to eschatology in the literature of emerging Christianity respectively, thereby integrating eschatological ideas in Qumran and the New Testament into our picture of Palestinian Judaism and the Palestinian Jesus-movement of the late Second Temple period.

The present review offers introductory issues aimed to provide groundwork for subsequent issues discussed on eschatology in the Qumran evidence as compared to other early Jewish literature (chapter 2) and in the New Testament (chapter 3), eschatological resurrection (chapter 4), apocalypticism (chapter 5), and messianism (chapter 6). Chapters two and three first survey eschatology in the Qumran and New Testament corpora of texts per se. The subsequent chapters four, five and six engage in traditio-historical comparison, turning from broader strands of tradition (expectations of the end, belief in resurrection) to currents of thought (apocalypticism, messianism) whose comparison is bound up with questions about the relation between genre (apocalypse, Synoptic 'apocalyptic/eschatological discourse') and tradition (apocalyptic ideas, motifs), and with a focus on individual eschatological protagonists (messianic expectations).

The study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran Judaism has been revolutionised by the publication of texts from Qumran cave 4 since the 1990s. Subsequent scholarly reflections have made it clear that old hypotheses about an isolated Qumran community behind the scrolls are no longer tenable. The Essene hypothesis that identifies the Qumran community with (a branch of) the Essene movement has also become more problematic, although it may still be used as a working hypothesis. Archaeological as well as textual studies have argued in favour of the idea that Qumran was part of an intricate web of sectarian settlements." At the same time, the unique place of the Qumran settlement as a sectarian study centre where scribal activity took place is still recognised in recent scholarship." It has been noted that the collection of Qumran texts exhibits a lesser degree of Hellenisation, as the smaller percentage of Greek texts may indicate, than other Palestinian Jewish corpora of texts, such as those of Masada, Muraba'at, and Nahal Hever. This corresponds with the perspective in sectarian Qumran texts that eschew contacts with Gentiles for purity reasons. Nevertheless, the evidence of Greek biblical manuscripts from Qumran caves 4 (4Q119-122) and 7 (7Q1-2), historical references in Qumran texts, and the occurrence of the term Orint,20 in 4Q553 1 4, a transliteration of the Greek word goncliptog possibly reflecting interest in the biblical literary form of beatitudes," defy complete and overly strict compartmentalization.

The differentiation between sectarian and non-sectarian Qumran evidence is of great significance for the study of eschatological ideas. This differentiation provides a challenge for further traditio-historical classification of these ideas and their development within the Qumran community and outside of it. Qumran texts without clearly identifiable sectarian characteristics can be probed with regard to the question to which extent these texts at large represent broader strands of Palestinian Judaism and to which extent their present form reflects their incorporation into the Qumran library as 'adopted texts'. The overlap between the Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls on the one hand, and between sectarian and non-sectarian texts within the Qumran collection on the other provides incentives for and directions to the project of integrating Qumran Judaism in the broader historical context of pre-70 CE Palestinian Judaism.

Palaeography provides an important means for dating Qumran texts." The dates of Qumran texts and recensions of texts (as in the case of the Community Rule, the Damascus Document, and the War Scroll) may constitute a starting point for the order of the historical-critical discussion of texts in the next chapter. However, the reconstruction of the textual development of important sectarian texts is at times fraught with difficulties, depending on suppositions about the development of communal ideas and the chosen methodology. The case of the Community Rule is illustrative in this respect." In cases of doubt, comparison with other sectarian texts could provide a way out of this hermeneutical circle.

Previous study of eschatology in the New Testament has produced divergent views ranging between the argument for a 'non-eschatological' picture of Jesus and the defense of thoroughgoing eschatology in the picture of the historical Jesus. While the relative importance of eschatology in early-Jesus tradition and subsequent developments in emerging Christianity merits re-evaluation, the basis for a non-eschatological picture in composition-historical analysis of the Sayings source Q is disputable. The challenge of reconsideration may consist in analysis of recent trends in the literary and historical study of Q as well as in re-interpretation of apocalyptic and eschatological materials in Q in comparison with a matrix of contemporary Jewish tradition, including the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

From the viewpoint of traditio-historical comparison, starting points in Scripture for later exegetical tradition are of particular interest. Therefore chapters two, three, four, five, and six begin with sections on scriptural starting points for eschatological, apocalyptic, and messianic ideas. The complete Qumran biblical evidence now available can be integrated into the discussion of literary history and transmission history of Scripture and be applied to the question of whether and how eschatological views and their exegetical elaboration can be traced back to Scripture.

Subsequent discussion in the following chapters will begin with eschatology in Qumran texts, putting these texts on a literary time-scale ranging from pre-Qumran texts, like 1 Enoch and Jubilees, texts contemporary to the Qumran settlement, and later post-70 CE Jewish literature, such as 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and early rabbinic literature. Discussion in chapter three will turn to the New Testament evidence of eschatology and its respective communal settings, mainly the first century CE. Apart from the pre-70 CE evidence of the Pauline Letters, the starting point for analysis concerns later texts, in particular the

Gospels and Acts, which are mostly dated between the last third and the turn of the first century CE. Subsequent chapters on resurrection, apocalypticism, and messianism also aim to trace back eschatological, apocalyptic, and messianic ideas to the milieu of the historical Jesus (chapters 4, 5, 6).




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