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Re: orion DSS and rabbis
On Mon, 29 Sep 1997, Greg Doudna wrote:
> 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?
This is an immensely rich and important question, and it is
virtually impossible to do it justice without writing more than is
responsible for an e-mail group. I just make a few comments .
Golb has argued in his recent book that MMT is pharisaic. As usual, he is
strong in interrogating the established views, but his own proposal seems
very flimsy. He makes much, for example, of Josephus' praise of the
Pharisees as mild-mannered and the conciliatory tone of the concluding
section of MMT, in which the writer seeks to establish common ground with
whoever seems to be the ruling authority (or recipient). I find this one
particularly tough to swallow.
(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
What Sussman, Baumgarten, Qimron, Schiffman and others see is certainly
there for a few crucial rulings (as the ones you mention). But, as Golb
properly observes, for the bulk of the rulings there is rather little
evidence for a Sadducean connection since we know next to nothing about
Sadducean legal tradition. So, in my rather untutored judgment, what we
have here are tantalizing suggestions that have tempted very fine scholars
to fit the piece of MMT into a very incomplete puzzle supplied by other
evidence. There is also a tendency of all the above to equate later
rabbinic evidence with Pharisaic positions although we know almost as
little about pharisaic law as we do of sadducean.
> 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.
This type of continuity would not help you isolate a rabbinic
connection. It would only tell you the text at hand was neither Samaritan
nor Leontopolitan, no? One of the most common over-interpretations that
has plagued DSS research on many matters is the hasty judgment that
because a scroll-text has an idea attested elsewhere to a known Judaic
group it must be connected to that group. What we know of other Judaic
groups first hand is so slender and filtered through the perceptions of
its reporters (e.g., Philo, Jos., rabbis, etc), that this is a very
dangerous strategy. Just because Pharisees are attested to have harbored
certain notions of free-will, etc., hardly justifies the conclusion that
other groups in Hellenized Jewish Palestine harboring such Hellenistic
commonplaces are "pharisaic", etc. and so forth.
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?
Well, it would certainly be interesting to find some. We'd learn an awful
lot about out own perceptions and assumptions. I await other responses. MJ