Jewish Factionalism Judaism from Within

How do we get 'inside' the Judaism(s) of our period? Obviously by reading the documents which were written within Israel during our period, particularly those that were written from a self-consciously insider perspective and in defence of their self-perception, even if in the event they spoke for what may have been only small and relatively unrepresentative forms of Judaism. When we do so, at once a remarkable feature becomes apparent. For wherever we have such documents from within the Judaism(s) of the second half of the Second Temple or post-Maccabean period in the land of Israel we find a common theme regularly recurring — firm and unyielding claims to be the only legitimate heirs of Israel's inheritance, and sharp, hostile, often vituperative criticism of other Jews/Judaisms. The same is true whether it be the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1 Enoch, the Testament of Moses, Jubilees, the Psalms of Solomon, or indeed Christian writings. The period was evidently marked by a degree of intra-Jewish factionalism remarkable for its sustained nature and quality of bitterness — a factionalism which included some at least of the other groups from whom we have no first-hand account from the period.122 The point can be illustrated readily enough.123

The Qumran Essenes saw themselves as alone true to the covenant of the fathers, 'the sons of light', 'the house of perfection and truth in Israel', the chosen ones, and so on (1QS 2.9; 3.25; 8.9; 11.7). In contrast, the political and religious opponents of the sectarians are attacked as 'the men of the lot of Belial', 'traitors', 'the wicked', 'the sons of Belial' who have departed from the paths of righteousness, transgressed the covenant, and such like.124 One of the chief sins for which these other Jews are condemned is the failure to recognize the Essene claim to have been given the correct insight into the Torah, and thus to be constituted as the people of the new covenant. 'Those who seek smooth things', the 'deceivers',126 are usually identified as the Pharisees, and the halakhic debates reflected in the recently published confirm that Pharisees were amongst the Qumran sect's

The Enoch corpus gives evidence of a bitter calendrical dispute which racked Judaism probably during the second century BCE. 'The righteous', 'who walk in the ways of righteousness', clearly distinguished themselves from those who 'sin like the sinners' in wrongly computing the months and feasts and years (7 En. 82.4-7). The accusation in 1 Enoch 1-5 is less specific, but again draws a clear line of distinction between the 'righteous/chosen' and the 'sinners/impious' (1.1, 7-9; 5.6-7), where the latter are clearly fellow Jews who practised their Judaism differently from the self-styled 'righteous' — 'You have not persevered, nor observed the law of the Lord' (5.4). Whether there were more specific targets remains obscure.

Similarly in T. Mos. 7 we find a forthright attack on 'godless men, who rep

122. 'The heyday of Jewish sectarianism was from the middle of the second century BCE to the destruction of the temple in 70 CE' (Cohen, Maccabees 143); see also Saldarini, Pharisees 65, 210-11, and n. 56 above.

123. In what follows I draw particularly on my 'Pharisees, Sinners and Jesus' 73-76. See further the texts reviewed by M. A. Elliott, The Survivors of Israel: A Reconsideration of the Theology of Pre-Christian Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) chs. 3-4. Cf. also P. F. Esler, 'Palestinian Judaism in the First Century', in D. Cohn-Sherbok and J. M. Court, eds., Religious Diversity in the Graeco-Roman World: A Survey ofRecent Scholarship (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2001) 21-46.

124. E.g., 1QS 2.4-10; CD 1.11-21; 1QH 10(=2).8-19; lQpHab 5.3-8; 4QFlor[4Q174]

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