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Alternate Visions of Judaism and Their Impact on the Formation of Rabbinic Judaism Karin Hedner Zetterholm Lund University JJMJS No. 1 (2014): As a consequence of the
Alternate Visions of Judaism and Their Impact on the Formation of Rabbinic Judaism Karin Hedner Zetterholm Lund University JJMJS No. 1 (2014): As a consequence of the indications that rabbinic Judaism was not the only, or even the dominant, form of Judaism during the first centuries C.E., 1 a growing number of scholars have begun to recognize the likelihood of a continued diversity in post-70 Judaism and debate the possibility of recovering nonrabbinic forms of Judaism. 2 The recent insight that Jewish self-identity in antiquity seems to have been fluid enough to have allowed for adherence to Jesus 1 C. Hezser, The Social Structure of the Rabbinic Movement (Tübingen, 1997); M. Himmelfarb, The Parting of the Ways Reconsidered: Diversity in Judaism and Jewish Christian Relations in the Roman Empire: A Jewish Perspective, in Interwoven Destinies: Jews and Christians Through the Ages (ed. E. J. Fisher; New York: Paulist Press, 1993), M. Goodman, Sadducees and Essenes After 70 CE, in Crossing the Boundaries: Essays in Biblical Interpretation in Honour of Michael D. Goulder (ed. S. E. Porter, et al.; Leiden: Brill, 1994), ; A. Y. Reed, Rabbis, Jewish Christians, and Other Late Antique Jews: Reflections on the Fate of Judaism(s) After 70 C.E., in The Changing Face of Judaism, Christianity, and Other Greco-Roman Religions in Antiquity (ed. I. H. Henderson and G. S. Oegma; München: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2006), Recently J. Magness has re-examined the idea of ancient Palestinian synagogues as evidence of non-rabbinic forms of Judaism, finding in the temple-oriented nature of the images indications of priestly and mystical oriented forms of Judaism; J. Magness, Heaven on Earth: Helios and the Zodiac Cycle in Ancient Palestinian Synagogues, Dumbarton Oaks 59 (2005): As noted by Elior and others, the priestly traditions linking the Qumran texts with apocryphal, pseudepigraphic, and apocalyptic literature resurface in later hekhalot texts (Jewish mystic texts from the period of the Mishnah and the Talmud); R. Elior, The Three Temples: On the Emergence of Jewish Mysticism (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2005), 7 20, ; R. Elior, From Earthly Temple to Heavenly Shrines: Prayer and Sacred Song in the Hekhalot Literature and Its Relation to Temple Traditions, Jewish Studies Quarterly Review 4 (1997): This may be another indication of an uninterrupted presence of a priestly-oriented Judaism. 128 JJMJS No. 1 (2014) as an option within Judaism 3 has opened up new avenues for exploring the existence and nature of non-rabbinic varieties of Judaism by reading texts, previously considered the products of heretical Christians (or Jewish Christians ), or as Christian appropriation of Jewish traditions, as Jewish texts and as evidence of diversity within Judaism. 4 For instance, David Frankfurter has suggested that 5 and 6 Ezra (=2 Esdras 1 2 and 2 Esdras 15 16), Ascension of Isaiah (Ascension), and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (Testament) emerged in communities of halakhically observant prophecy-oriented Jews who at some point had come to embrace Jesus as the Messiah, while retaining a Jewish, or even priestly selfdefinition. 5 In addition to their strong interest in prophecy and prophetic traditions, these texts are concerned with Torah observance, Israel s past and future, the end-time salvation of a remnant of Israel, the inclusion of Gentiles into the covenant with Israel s God, the fate of non-jesus-oriented Jews, and in the case of the Ascension, with heavenly ascent. While the inclusion of Gentiles and harsh statements about non-jesusoriented Jews have been taken as evidence of non-jewish authorship, both features can be readily understood within a Jewish framework. The inclusion of Gentiles seems to have been an issue of significant concern for Jews in the early centuries C.E., 6 and references to the rejection of Israel can be understood as an expression of a classic remnant theology with roots in the Hebrew Bible. As 3 D. Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ (New York: New Press, 2012), 1 24; D. Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity : Continuing Religious Sub- Cultures of the Second and Third Centuries and Their Documents, in The Ways That Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, eds. A. H. Becker and A. Y. Reed (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), C. E. Fonrobert, The Didascalia Apostolorum: A Mishnah for the Disciples of Jesus, Journal of Early Christian Studies 9 (2001): ; Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity : Continuing Religious Sub-Cultures of the Second and Third Centuries and Their Documents, in The Ways That Never Parted, ; Reed, Reflections, ; A. Y. Reed, Jewish Christianity after the Parting of the Ways : Approaches to Historiography and Self-Definition in the Pseudo-Clementines, in The Ways That Never Parted, Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity, See also R. G. Hall, Isaiah s Ascent to See the Beloved: An Ancient Jewish Source For the Ascension of Isaiah?, Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994): , who also sees the Jesus-orientation of the Ascension as an orientation within Judaism. 6 A continuation of this universalistic trend within rabbinic Judaism can be seen in the R. Ishmael school in tannaitic literature, see M. Hirshman, Rabbinic Universalism in the Second and Third Centuries, Harvard Theological Review 93 (2000): Zetterholm, Alternate Visions of Judaism 129 pointed out by Martha Himmelfarb, emphasis on God s anger with his people even to the point of rejection is a commonplace in prophetic literature, and does not preclude Jewish authorship. 7 Fifth and 6 Ezra, with their strong sense of being a privileged elect, and references in 5 Ezra to the people to come to whom Israel s privileges are being transferred, would seem to represent a continuation of a remnant theology present in the Bible and Qumran literature, and can be understood to reflect intra-jewish polemics, in which the author is involved in a struggle to define his community against other forms of Judaism. 8 Even in the fourth century, adherence to Jesus seems to have been an option within Judaism. Charlotte Fonrobert has argued that the Didascalia Apostolorum (DA) ought to be read as a Jewish text and as evidence of Jewish diversity, and Annette Y. Reed has suggested that the groups behind significant parts of the Homilies (Hom) and Recognitions (Rec), the main texts that make up the Pseudo-Clementine writings, represent a Jewish identity that includes adherence to Jesus. 9 Below, I will argue that the theologies as a whole, not just particular ideas or interpretive practices, developed by the Homilies, Recognitions and the Didascalia represent coherent Jewish, although nonrabbinic, visions of the history and mission of biblical Israel, and that these rival visions, precisely because of their Jewish nature, prompted a response from rabbinic Jews. Not only did these non-rabbinic groups self-identity as Jews, their 7 Himmelfarb, The Parting of the Ways, 47 61, esp Bergren s conclusion, T. A. Bergren, Fifth Ezra: The Text, Origin and Early History (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990), that 5 Ezra is likely an integral composition speaks against the theory of a Christian reworking of an original Jewish text, and might support the claim that it is a composition by a Jesus-oriented Jewish group. 8 Bergren, Fifth Ezra, discusses this possibility, but in the end opts for Christian, in the sense of non-jewish, authorship. However, he acknowledges the problem of applying the terms Jewish and Christian to texts such as 5 Ezra when he writes: [I]t is necessary to remain sensitive to the great diversity that characterized both early Christianity and early Judaism, and to the complex and sometimes subtle nature of the interface between the two. It is possible that 5 Ezra represents a document, or contains material, that is close to this often elusive interface between Judaism and Christianity. Earliest Christianity was a form of Judaism in which some of the elements that one normally thinks of as typically Jewish were absent, and in which some tendencies usually regarded as typically Christian were embraced.... Some of these ideas formed the very basis of Christian doctrine, yet many must also have been characteristic of forms of Judaism in the Hellenistic period. The fact that these ideas may not seem Jewish to a modern observer is more a product of the triumph of rabbinic Judaism, and the loss of much evidence of alternative forms of Judaism, than of historical reality (p. 330 n. 13). 9 Fonrobert, Didascalia Apostolorum, ; Reed, Jewish Christianity, 130 JJMJS No. 1 (2014) theologies very likely made sense to other Jews, including rabbinic ones, and unless we regard adherence to Jesus as constituting a break with Judaism, there is nothing in these theologies that is inherently un-jewish. 10 In their approaches to prophecy, Torah observance, the inclusion of Gentiles, and the fate of non- Jesus-oriented Jews, they stand in continuity with Jesus-oriented texts from the second and third centuries mentioned above. Prophecy-Oriented Forms of Judaism The Pseudo-Clementines Claims to prophetic authority in the Pseudo-Clementines raise the possibility that the groups behind the Homilies and Recognitions represent a continuation and development of a prophecy-oriented Judaism reflected in texts such as the Ascension of Isaiah, 5 and 6 Ezra and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. 11 Recent studies suggest that the Ascension and 5 and 6 Ezra emerged in schools of prophets who modeled themselves along the lines of biblical prophets while also embracing Jesus as the Messiah, 12 and a similar setting of circles of prophets has 10 The fact that these communities included Gentiles does not preclude a general sense of Jewish self-identity. I would assume that the Gentiles who joined these Torah observant Jewish-oriented Jesus-communities adopted a Jewish identity as it was envisioned by these groups. In view of Paul s struggle to keep the Gentile members of the Jesus movement from observing the Torah in the same way as the Jewish members did, the adoption of a Jewish identity on the part of Gentile Jesus-adherents of a later period does not seem implausible. Naturally, their perception of Jewish identity was different than the rabbinic one and possibly also from other prevalent definitions of Jewishness during the third and fourth centuries. The Homilies definition of a Jew as someone who observes the law does not intrinsically privilege a Jew over a Gentile and might well have been appealing to non-jewish adherents to Jesus. If we take seriously the idea that adherence to Jesus was an orientation within Judaism, we likely have to contend with multiple Jewish identities during the early centuries C.E. 11 On the relationship between text and community see for instance, S. C. Barton, Can We Identify the Gospel Audiences? in The Gospels for All Christians (ed. R. Bauckham; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), Although one should be cautious in always assuming a distinctive community behind each text, these texts at the very least served the needs of some sort of interpretive community, or set of communities, in which they were written down and transmitted, and some of them, such as the Homilies and Recognitions, reveal quite a lot of information about practices and hermeneutics shared by these interpretive communities. 12 R. G. Hall, The Ascension of Isaiah: Community Situation. Date, and Place in Early Christianity, Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1990): , esp ; E. Norelli, Ascension d Isaïe (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), 87 99; Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity, 139. Syria/Palestine or Asia Minor has been proposed as the likely Zetterholm, Alternate Visions of Judaism 131 been proposed for the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Lives of the Prophets and 4 Baruch. 13 Jesus does not occupy a key place in these texts, 14 and appears secondary to the major concerns of heavenly ascent and prophetic authority, leading Frankfurter to posit the existence of a multiform prophetic Judaism, which continued from a Jewish stage into a Jesus-oriented stage that was also Jewish. 15 Thus, adherence to Jesus and the promotion of prophetic authority should not be seen as characteristics of Christian communities as opposed to Jewish ones, but rather as a trait distinguishing some Jewish groups. 16 Ascension, whose final redaction is dated to the latter part of the first century or the early decades of the second century C.E., 17 seems to reflect a community in conflict with other prophetic groups, and its resemblance to the Book of Revelation, the Gospel of John, and the Odes of Solomon has led scholars to suggest an origin in a common milieu of rival prophetic schools for all these provenance of all three works. Hall, Ascension of Isaiah, 296, and T. Elgvin, Jewish Christian Editing of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, in Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries (ed. O. Skarsaune and R. Hvalvik; Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007), , esp. 293, place the Ascension in Syria/Palestine while Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity, 139, sees Asia Minor as the most likely place of origin. T. A. Bergren, Sixth Ezra: The Text and Origin (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 18 31, places 6 Ezra in Asia Minor, and Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity, 139, places both 5 and 6 Ezra there. 13 Elgvin, Jewish Christian Editing, Hall, for instance, underscores that nothing indicates that Ascension was primarily written about Jesus. He is clearly secondary to the concern with heavenly ascent and the beauties and glories of heaven; Hall, Isaiah s Ascent, Fifth and 6 Ezra do not even make explicit mention of Jesus. 15 Himmelfarb, Parting of the Ways, has made a similar argument for 3 Baruch, suggesting that it may provide evidence for the existence of non-rabbinic Jews whose reaction to the destruction of the temple had much in common with that of the author of the book of Revelation. 16 Frankfurter, Beyond Jewish Christianity, R. Bauckham, The Ascension of Isaiah: Genre, Unity and Date, in The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (Leiden: Brill, 1998), , esp ; Hall, Ascension of Isaiah, While the Ascension has traditionally been seen as a composite text, there is a tendency in recent scholarship to see the book as a composition of a single author, although drawing on older traditions; Bauckham, Ascension of Isaiah, ; Hall, Ascension of Isaiah, 132 JJMJS No. 1 (2014) texts. 18 Fifth and 6 Ezra, dated somewhere between 130 and 250 and the midthird or early fourth century respectively, 19 also resemble Revelation as well as the Gospel of Matthew, leading Graham Stanton to conclude that 5 Ezra together with the Apocalypse of Peter represent a continuation of the Matthean community, in which prophecy continued. 20 This suggests that a Jesus and prophecy-oriented form of Judaism reflected in first-century texts, such as the Gospel of Matthew and Revelation, 21 continued as an orientation within Judaism well into the third century. Although the communities of the Homilies and Recognitions do not seem to have included circles of active prophets, they adhered to prophetic modes of authority as the only reliable source of knowledge about God. For both the Homilies and Recognitions, prophecy is the only source of true knowledge about God, and the most prominent figure in the third-century source that they both independently rework is the true Prophet, whom the Recognitions identify with Jesus and the Homilies with Jesus and Moses, seeing them as two different manifestations of the true Prophet (Hom ). The Recognitions in particular sees the true Prophet, Jesus, as the only conduit for knowledge about God (Rec 1.44; 5.5.3; ): The true Prophet... alone can enlighten the souls of human beings, so that with their eyes they may plainly perceive the way of salvation. For otherwise it is impossible to understand divine and eternal things, unless one learns from the true Prophet (Rec ), and similarly, it is 18 Hall, Ascension of Isaiah, The Ascension also displays numerous parallels with Jewish apocalyptic texts and later hekhalot literature, Bauckham, Ascension of Isaiah, 38; Hall, Isaiah s Ascent, Bergren, Fifth Ezra, 24 26; Bergren, Sixth Ezra, G. S. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1992), Texts, which by an increasing number of scholars, are seen as expressions of Judaism of which Jesus-orientation was a part, rather than Christian as opposed to Jewish. For the view of Revelation as a Jewish text, see D. Frankfurter, Jews or Not? Reconstructing the Other in Rev 2:9 and 3:9, Harvard Theological Review 94 (2001): ; J. W. Marshall, Parables of War: Reading John s Jewish Apocalypse (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2001); for the Gospel of Matthew, A. J. Saldarini, Matthew s Christian-Jewish Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); D. C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998). Zetterholm, Alternate Visions of Judaism 133 impossible, without the true Prophet, to know what is pleasing to God (Rec ). 22 Prophetic knowledge is seen as superior to all other forms of knowledge, and those who have not received knowledge about God directly from Jesus cannot obtain it from any other source. By virtue of his personal relationship to Jesus, Peter embodies prophetic knowledge about God, a knowledge that is transmitted to the community through a line of succession from Jesus via Peter to the office of the bishop (Rec ). As the bearer of prophetic knowledge transmitted from Jesus, Peter has interpretive authority far superior to all others. 23 Thus, the Homilies and Recognitions, like the second- and third-century texts discussed above, maintain a tradition of prophecy and may reflect the continued existence of forms of prophetic Judaism from the Second Temple period, 24 preserved and further developed mainly by Jewish adherents to Jesus. Originally composed in Greek, probably in Syria, 25 portions of the Homilies and Recognitions were translated into Syriac in the early fourth century, and in the case of the Recognitions also into Latin, indicating a widespread circulation. Citing emphasis on the importance of Moses, the Torah, halakhic observance, and assertions of the continued chosenness of the Jews as indications of a Jewish self-identity, Reed has persuasively argued that the Homilies and Recognitions in their extant redacted forms represent a Jewish identity that includes adherence to Jesus. 26 For instance, Rec , a distinct 22 Cf. Hom ; 2.4.3; ; 2.8.2; ; and the end of Rec :... thus it is beyond doubt that from none but Himself alone can it be known what is true, N. Kelley, Knowledge and Religious Authority in the Pseudo-Clementines (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), Translations modified upon consultation with the original and Kelley s translation. 23 Kelley, Knowledge, Some Jews may never have ceased to believe in prophecy in spite of the rabbinic insistence that prophecy ceased with the last biblical prophets (t. Sot. 13:3; y. Sot. 9:13; b. Sot. 48b; b. B. Batra 14b; S. Olam Rab 30; cf. 1 Macc 9:27), or perhaps a revival of prophetic activity occurred during the first century due to the widespread belief that the end time was near, as suggested by B. Sommer, Did Prophecy Cease? Evaluating a Reevaluation, Journal of Biblical Literature 115 (1996): Edessa and Antioch are considered the most likely candidates; Kelley, Knowledge, 16 and n. 54. For a survey of scholarship on the Pseudo-Clementines, see S. F. Jones, The Pseudo-Clementines: A History of Research, Second Century 2 (1982): 1 33, A brief overview is provided by Kelley, Knowledge, Reed, Jewish Christianity, 134 JJMJS No. 1 (2014) source within the Recognitions, 27 seems to regard orien
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