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orion DSS and rabbis
Martin Jaffee's interesting earlier post brings about this. A basic premise
or conclusion which runs through much, perhaps almost all, Qumran
discourse, ranging from the early Schecter on CD to the first generation
Qumran scholars on the pesharim, to Qimron and Sussmann and many
more on MMT, is . . .
In the so-called "sectarian" or yachad related clusters of texts, there
is a conscious positioning of the writers of these texts against some
form of Judaism in power in Jerusalem. There is an "us" and a "them".
Both "us" and "them" are Jewish, but which kinds? The basic view is
that rabbinical Judaism of later texts is to be identified, more or less,
as in some form of continuity with the _opponents_ of the scrolls writers,
and not in continuity _from_ the scrolls writers. I.e. the scrolls writers
are considered, so to speak, "the side that lost". (Then there are the
theories that propose connections between this "side that lost" and
Christians, Karaites, the Talmud's Sadducees and minim, et al.)
The Judaism of the rabbis is identified as descended from or holding
basic continuities from the _opponents_ of the writers of the scrolls
rather than from the writers of the scrolls.
This basic heuristic construction preceded 4QMMT, but MMT seems
to provide smoking-gun confirmation of this scheme. Everyone is
aware of Qimron and Sussmann's identification of MMT halakha in
several specific cases with what the rabbis termed sadducee or
heretical halakha on matters of dispute.
The question here is: how certain is this construction? How certain
is it that rabbinical Judaism does not descend from the _scrolls
halakha_ (of c. mid-1st BCE) instead of from the _opponents_ of
MMT and other Qumran texts?
Has anyone current, post-MMT, attempted to make an argument for
this reverse proposition? (I admit it seems a tough argument to make,
and I would like to emphasize I personally find the Qimron/Sussmann,
and Yadin and Schiffmann and Baumgarten, discussions on rabbinic sadducee
continuities to the scrolls texts very compelling, but ask this question on
this list because it may be an interesting one--and also in the hope of
drawing out some of the knowledgeable ones on halakha on this list to
It might be asked: how could such an argument be possible? Again I
am not endorsing the following, but outlining one line of direction an
opposing argument might go on this. First of all, let us stick to MMT.
As the person preparing to publish more than anyone will ever want to know
on 4QpNah, let me say I don't see an anti-Pharisee polemic in 4QpNah as
stronger than plausible (there are other readings of 4QpNah), i.e. that is not
independent evidence. Never mind 4QpNah for the moment; let us stick
to the real heart of the argument: MMT.
Some of the 20 or so halakhic disputes of MMT are broken, damaged,
and unreadable due to lacunas. But the information that is there is
of great interest, particularly the 2 or 3 cases of the striking
correspondences to rabbis vs. sadducees debates (i.e. the running stream
argument, the red heifer at sunset argument). But has the attention
mistakenly been focused on minute differences which could be explained
as post-scrolls, post 1st-BCE inter-rabbinical development and change
over time, when other points might be overlooked. An example: the first
point in MMT's list of issues against its opponents (to paraphrase),
is: "we say that Jerusalem is the only right place". Why are the authors
of MMT saying this? Is it possible it is because their opponents are
saying Jerusalem is not the only right place? In this case, MMT, and
not the opponents, represent agreement and continuity with what is
known of the later rabbis. Are there other examples in which massive
continuities between the scrolls and later rabbinical Judaism are so
obvious that we have missed them, i.e. these continuities are assumed
_by us_ to be generic to both the scrolls authors and their opponents,
when an alternative analysis might propose that the scrolls positions
(what was _then_ "sectarian") in fact won and their continuity is to be
found in the rabbis . . . as distinguished from the rabbis being the
heirs of the scrolls writers' opponents?
Just a question for discussion. But is it possible that such an argument
could credibly be made?
U. of Copenhagen