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Re: question

On Wed, 10 Apr 1996, Philip Davies wrote:

> >Michael
> >
>    In think that you are correct in looking for the origins of
> >sectarianism in the third century, and it seems to me that the Enoch
> >literature (at least, 1 Enoch 6-16) forms a kind of counterpoint to the
> >priestly testaments you're working with.  The dualism of the passage from
> >Enoch is one of heaven and earth, tracing the origin of sin to the
> >illegitimate mixing of the two realms, rather than light and dark, and
> >therefore is not so heavily charged with the opposition of good and evil
> >as the two-spirit theology of the scrolls.  What I find interesting is
> >the way in which these two traditions flow together in the literature of
> >the period.
> Perhaps it's better not to speak of 'sectarian' since what do we mean by
> 'orthodox? The priestly establishment? But what was it?
>         I myself suspect that Genesis 2-4 is involved in polemic about the
> origin of evil (countering the idea that it originates in heaven, inventing
> Cain to replace the leader of the fallen angels (look at his genealogy!).
> We have here perhaps hints of a conflict between monotheistic and dualistic
> theologies. An evolutionary picture of Second Temple Judaism might be
> better than one that speaks of orthodoxies and centres, sects and fringes.
> The problems we have with the evidence are our own presuppositions, not the
> data. Start with the basic ignorance of Persian-early Hellenistic Yehud
> that we have and don't fill it in with guesses. (And treat the Ezra story
> as a legend possibly the account given by one kind of Judaism aboput the
> origins of its Judaism, with Nehemiah and CD being other accounts of other
> Judaisms (all with one teacher, of course........)


Thanks for a thoughtful post.  I agree that the term "sectarian" may be 
part of the problem and had been planning to pursue the issue further.  
My comment was that the origins of sectarianism are to be found in the 
third century, by which I mean that the conditions that give rise to 
parties (or whatever we want to call them) are to be found there.  At 
least for the second century and following we have community rules and 
MMT pointing toward the emergence of a group or groups separated from the 
center of society in one way or another.  What I see for the third 
century is evidence for more than one form of dualism, but can only 
conclude from that the existence of tension among various factions or 
parties within the intellectual center of society.  Whatever we conclude 
about the second century, talking about center and periphery seems to me 
to be a more fruitful approach to the third century.

In the paper I mentioned reading on "The Priesthood and Apocalyptic" in 
an SBL section chaired by Milgrom some years ago, I tried to deal with 
what I saw then (and still see) as evidence that apocalyptic literature 
emerges from the priestly center of society rather than from prophetic 
or Hasidic conventicles or the like (as Pl<"o>ger and Hansen seemed to be 
arguing at the time).  I had (and have) been impressed by Michael Stone's 
identification of sapiential and intellectual traditions and currents 
within apocalyptic literature like the Book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch 
and suggested in the paper that we should be looking for more realistic 
treatments of the role or roles of intellectuals in society in 
approaching the problem.  For the purposes of discussion, I introduced 
the work of the sociologist, Edward Shils, who works with the roles of 
intellectuals in society and speaks of relation to the center of society 
in terms of degrees of consensus and dissensus without necessarily 
resorting to hypotheses concerning sects and conventicles.  

Shils describes a society in terms of center and periphery, and all 
groups in society participate in the center through consensus and 
dissensus.  This center he describes first of all in terms of a central 
value system, which has an "intimate connection with what the society 
holds to be sacred," and which "is espoused by the ruling authorities of 
the society."  He divides the center futher into a central institutional 
system, which wields power, and a central cultural system, which develops 
the myths legitimating the exercise of power.  The latter is the 
responsibility of the intellectuals.  Since the interests of the central 
institutional system are not completely identical with those of the 
central cultural system, friction and tension develops within the center 
of society.  My suggestion is that the various dualisms we encounter in 
the literature of the period (we've identified at least two so far, but I 
would also want to look at the place of the Chronicler as well as that of 
the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the whole mix) are evidence for 
factions within the central cultural system but not necessarily evidence 
that these factions have given birth to sects or conventicles.  My 
impression is that the divisions widen in the course of the second 
century.  There seems to be a plentiful supply of priests 
to serve the needs of the Temple (hence the need for priestly courses), 
and there may be competing interests between the Levites and the 
Priests, in part left over from the return from the exile or even 
Josiah's reform, all of which might contribute to the development of 
factions and tensions without necessarily implying the development of 
sects.  These tensions (reflected in the story of the fallen Watchers of 
1 Enoch or the light/dark symbolism that Michael is pointing toward) I 
would see as the roots of the development of wider divisions in the 
second century.

I don't see Shils as *the* explanation and would agree that our 
presuppositions about sects, etc., are likely to shape what we find.  My 
purpose in introducing his approach in this context is simply to suggest 
that here's another way of thinking about the issue.

David Suter
Saint Martin's College