Priestly Sages? The Milieus of Origin of 4QMysteries and 4QInstruction
The date and milieu of origin of the largest sapiential work from Qumran, 4QInstruction, is debated. Strugnell and Harrington suggest some kind of a _school setting_(like Sirach) for 4QInstruction, where a teacher gives instruction to his student. According to DJD 34, the mebin is a sage with formal functions in official courts in the Persian/Ptolemaic or Seleucid periods. The work represents a general non-sectarian post-exilic Jewish background, datable between Proverbs and Sirach, preferably early in that period. Strugnell seems to_agree with Stegemann on a 4th or 3rd century date. Harrington had earlier advocated a 2nd c. date, as do Lange, Elgvin and Collins. For Tigchelaar, 4QInstruction is addressed to a mebin, who in contrast to Sirach_s audience was not a professional sage but could be anyone in society. People from all social strata are admonished to behave according to their ordained position in life and society. A genre with origins in the school setting is here used in a more open context. None of these three scholars have a set opinion as to whether Aaronite priestly language points to (sections of) the work being addressed to priests, or is used in a more symbolic way, describing a _quasi-priestly_status of the mebin__ Lange has suggested a priestly milieu in the 3rd and 2nd c. Temple behind a sequence of related sapiential works: 4QInstruction (late 3rd or early 2nd c.), 4QMysteries (mid-2nd c. or a little earlier), the second redaction of Qohelet, and the Treatise of the Two Spirits (1QS III-IV, mid-2nd c. or a little later). He notes a number of passages in 4QInstruction with a strong cultic interest: firstborn sacrifice, vows, use of the priestly prohibition on mixing different species, reference to calendar and festivals, niddah, and the oracle of the lot. The suggestions of these scholars will be investigated and evaluated. It seems easier to assert a priestly Temple-centered milieu behind 4QMysteries than for 4QInstruction and the tradents of Qohelet. The sparse references to cultic matters in 4QInstruction do not necessarily point to the Temple as its original milieu. Some of them are used in a symbolic way. Furthermore , a sapiential teacher in the tiny province of pre-Hasmonean Yehud, could hardly escape referring to the Temple when giving advice on life in family and society. The contrast to the priestly-oriented Jerusalemite Ben Sira requires that we seek alternative milieus for some of these sapiential texts.