Was Qumran the Cradle of Christianity?
A Critique of Johannes Lehmann's Jesus Report
From 1974: John Piper is currently completing his doctoral studies in New Testament at the University of Munich, Germany, where he began his work under the late Leonhard Goppelt. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary.
A Glance at West Germany
"Jesus of Nazareth is all of a sudden a topic of conversation again. His name is not mentioned in the churches any more. Instead he sparkles from the title pages of magazines and bestsellers; he echoes—usually in the Americanized form "Djiezes"—from loudspeakers at massive youth gatherings; he offers himself to radio and television and weekend conferences as an inexhaustible theme of scholarly discussion."1 This is the lead sentence of a recent German book which attempts to assess the popularity of Jesus in West Germany at a time when interest in and attendance in church is at an incomparably low ebb. The sentence reflects the German situation not only in its reference to the churches, but also in its implication that the Jesus movement among the youth never really became a German movement. It was too American. Instead of unleashing a massive youth movement, the current popularity of Jesus in West Germany has opened the sluice gates to an unprecedented flood of "Jesus books."
There have been more books published in Germany about Jesus in the last six years than in the fifty years preceding.2 As expected, many of these come from the theological establishment of the universities and bear the stamp of immense scholarship;3 many others come from ecclesiastical quarters with marked devotional intent.4 What was perhaps not expected is the production of so many "Jesus books" by non-theologians, even non-Christians. For example, a number of Marxist thinkers have exploited the synoptic story of Jesus in search of a model of true humanity.5 But even more immediately influential among the public are the journalistic presentations of Jesus which claim to enlighten the populations as to who Jesus really was and how the old church doctrines have concealed rather than revealed Jesus of Nazareth.6
Reaching further into the grass roots than most is Johannes Lehmann's Jesus Report.7 This was delivered to the public first as a 13-part series over the South German Radio Network with the subtitles "The Mystery of Rabbi J." Then it was printed as a series in Stern, one of the most widely read weekly magazines in West Germany8, and finally it appeared as a book with the pejorative subtitle "Protocol of Falsification." It is thus evident that, although 95% of the West German population does not attend church, they are nevertheless hearing about Jesus from many sides. What is the message being proclaimed? Is it true?
The purpose of this essay is not to scan the content of all the "Jesus books," but rather to sink a shaft in one of them in order to assay the kind of ore we find buried there. My hope is that we turn up not just the good and bad qualities of some secondary literature, but that we also, and more importantly, come to a clearer perception of the central features of Jesus' early ministry.
A Limited Critique of Lehmann's Jesus Report
The specific task here is to test one of the central theses of Lehmann's Jesus Report. According to Lehmann, the Qumran community on the Dead Sea was the "cradle of Christianity."9 This is most evident, he claims, from the fact that "From the baptism of Jesus on through his teaching and up to the Last Supper, there is an unbroken chain of concealed connections to the Essene community on the Dead Sea" (p. 80, italics mine). At the start we can say positively for Lehmann that he has not allowed us simply to overlook the many similarities between Jesus and Qumran.10 We thus receive the healthy admonition to guard against a tendency, for dogmatic reasons, to single out only the differences between Jesus and Qumran. But we are also made aware by Lehmann's book that a proper history-of-religions comparison between Jesus and Qumran consists not merely in a collection of long lists of external similarities, but also, and primarily, in a deeper probing to discover whether beneath these similarities an essential unity really exists. My contention is that on at least two key points Lehmann has claimed unity between Jesus and Qumran where there is essential disunity.
There are at least two links in Lehmann's "unbroken chain" of connections between Qumran and Jesus which mainline New Testament scholarship appears to have knocked out. Lehmann describes these two blows in his own words. It is argued against the Essene origin of Christianity "(1) that neither John the Baptist nor Jesus (presuming both were Essenes) could have turned to outsiders as they did because that would have meant a contamination, and besides, the 'sons of wickedness' were to be hated; and (2) the decisively Christian message of loving one's enemies in the fifth chapter of Matthew is not found in the Qumran texts" (p. 142). A discussion of the first of these arguments will necessarily overlap with the second, but I will treat them one at a time.
1. Lehmann defends his "unbroken chain" against the first blow with a long list of texts from the scroll of the Rule (1QS 1:5,7; 4:2; 6:6,13,19; 8:3,4; 9:16,18; 13:2) which are to prove (a) "that even the Rule of Qumran prescribes a certain 'mission activity' and recruiting" (p. 143); (b) "that there were also members of the order who lived outside the community" (p. 143); and (c) that "the Rule of the sect also prescribed employment for its members" (p. 143). These three observations need not be disputed.11 But when Lehmann goes farther and says that this "mission activity" (see "a" above) had "the same character as that practiced by John the Baptist and Jesus (p. 143), then he is going beyond and contrary to the evidence. (The weakness of his contention is seen already in the fact that he seems to equate the "mission activity" of John the Baptist and Jesus.)
He quotes fragmentarily, for example, 1QS 9:16-18: The "man of understanding" (1QS 9:12) in Qumran is "not to dispute or to argue with the men of ruin … but to point up the true knowledge and right justice for them that have chosen the way, each according to his spirit." This is the "mission activity" of the sectaries. But Lehmann omits the preceding sentence where the "man of understanding is commanded," He "shall judge each man according to his spirit, and shall cause each man to approach according to the purity of his hands; and according to their understanding shall he cause them to go forward. And as his love is so shall his hatred be" (1QS 9:15f.).12 In the so-called "mission activity" of Qumran, judgment always precedes acceptance. Before fellowship is granted, one must decide whether a prospective member belongs to the Spirit of Truth or to the Spirit of Perversity (1QS 3:19), whether he is a son of light or a son of darkness (1QS 1:9,10). This judgment is made apparently on the basis of cultic purity (see italics in above quote), that is, on the basis of total obedience to the Law. In accordance with this judgment, the sectaries are "to act according to the exact tenor of the Law" and thus "to separate themselves from the song of the Pit" (CD Damascus Document ' 6:14). This basic separation is foreign to the ministry of both John the Baptist and Jesus.
It is not impossible that John the Baptist, who "was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation" (Luke 1:80), was acquainted with and influenced by the Essenes in that vicinity.13 But, whether or not this connection exists, John's appearance as a prophet to whom the Word of God had come (Luke 3:2) was set off from the Essenes in at least two ways. First, even if there was some individual recruitment by the Essenes, they did not think of approaching the whole people of Israel with their message. But this was precisely what John did: "He went into all the region about Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3:3) and "multitudes came to be baptized by him" (Luke 3:7; cf. Matt. 3:7). Secondly, John's baptism cannot be identified with the baptismal practices of Qumran. For John, a "baptism for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4 parallel, Luke 3:3) was the center of his "mission activity"; he called men to it and performed it himself (Mark 1:5; Matt. 3:11 parallel, Luke 3:16; John 1:26), once for all, not repeatedly.14 In Qumran, however, there were no active “baptizers.”15 Nor was baptism a once-for-all event performed by another; we should speak rather of purification baths which, according to Josephus (Wars of the Jews II, 8, 5-9) were to be taken at least daily.16
Turning to Jesus' "mission activity," if we cite his non-Qumran-like association with tax collectors and prostitutes (cf. Mark 2:15; Luke 7:36f.), Lehmann raises double objection: (a) the tax collectors, etc., could have been those who had "volunteered to join the Council of the Community" (1QS 6:13); Zaccheus, for example, in Qumran fashion gave away half of his property; and (b) the Damascus Document demands the sectary "to love each man his brother as himself and to support the hand of the needy, the poor and the stranger and to seek each man the well-being of his brother" (CD 6:21).
With regard to "a," the case of Zaccheus could just as well prove that he did not volunteer to enter the Qumran community because the explicit demand there was one must bring all of his property and income "into the Community of God" (1QS 1:12; 6:19, 20; cf. also Philo, Quod omnis propus lither sit, 85,86; Josephus, The War of the Jews II, 8,4). With regard to "b," we must seriously question whether "brother" has the meaning of "fellow man," which it must if Lehmann's use of the text is to have any weight. The sentence quoted continues: "and not to betray, each man who is flesh of his flesh" (CD7:1). However, I do not dispute that the Essenes did deeds of kindness to those outside the sect (see p. 25 below). But it is another question whether these expressions of generosity correspond essentially to Jesus' ministry.
Lehmann's objections notwithstanding, therefore, we may contrast Jesus' association with sinners with Qumran's separatism.17 It is not only the mere fact of this association that set Jesus off from Qumran, but also the nature of that association:18 Jesus offers his fellowship to sinners without the preceding judgment which characterizes the Qumran "mission activity." Precisely those who have nothing to show for themselves—even in terms of obedience to the law—are welcomed: "He receives sinners and eats with them" (Luke 15:2).19" If we may view the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) as a justification of this offensive (cf. Luke 15:1f.) behavior, then it is possible to say the salvation of sinners (cf. Luke 19:10), that is, the restored fellowship with the heavenly Father (Luke 15:20), happens precisely in Jesus' free acceptance of sinners into his fellowship.
I can hardly enter into a discussion here of the many questions raised about the parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament research. Some brief remarks and references to the literature where my interpretation is more fully grounded must suffice. I take the parable as a unity: the place of the older brother in the narrative (15:25-32) is secured by references to him already in vv. 11:32.20 With the great majority of scholars, I take the parable to be genuine, spoken by Jesus himself, in spite of recent attempts to prove this contrary.21 Moreover, I believe if we give credence to Luke's composition here (three parables of losing and finding under the heading of 15:1-2), the parable finds a more satisfying interpretation than if we reject the Lukan context and try to interpret the parable in isolation.22 The meaning of the parable which best conforms to the Lukan context and to the individual features of the parable has been well expounded by Leonhard Goppelt. I quote him at length.
"The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates in what manner Jesus was the sinner's physician. This parable is not, as liberalism would have it, an illustration of the fatherly love of God; nor is it, as Bultmann maintains, an authoritarian proclamation of God's love toward sinners. Rather, as the introduction to the parable makes clear (Luke 15:1f.) it is an illustration of what happens when Jesus grants His fellowship to sinners. Acceptance into fellowship with Jesus means acceptance into fellowship with God. An inevitable consequence of this is a return to obedience as the stories of Zaccheus (Luke 19:8) and the sinful woman (Luke 7:45ff.) make clear. Only in very rare cases was this forgiveness that Jesus granted through His helping fellowship expressly spoken to a person (Mark 2:5 parallel, Luke 7:47-48)."23
But the parable is not merely an explanation or justification of Jesus' questionable practice of eating with sinners; it is also, as verses 15:25-32 shows, a call for the Pharisees to repent.
"In the parable, Jesus called the Pharisee out of the field in which he had been working as a slave and invited him into the father's house, into the fellowship of saved sinners (Luke 15:32). For the righteous, repentance means entering into the joy of the saved and rejoicing that they are the saved. It means giving up all boasting about accomplishments and reward. It means hungering and thirsting for the fellowship which the father gives as a free gift of mercy, and it means loving the sinful brother with forgiveness."24
This "mission activity" of Jesus cannot be identified with that of the Essenes. It is more likely that the Essenes themselves would have been among those who jeered: "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Matt. 11:19).
2. The second blow against Lehmann's "unbroken chain" of connections between Jesus and Qumran is not merely that Jesus' command to love one's enemies (Matt. 5:44 parallel, Luke 6:27) is not found in the Qumran texts, but that its very opposite is found: the sectaries are commanded "that they love all the sons of light, each according to his lot in the Council of God; and that they hate all the sons of darkness, each according to his fault in the vengeance of God" (1QS 1:9,10). This demand does not appear isolated to the borders of the Qumran texts (against Lehmann, p. 143), rather, a fundamental principle of the sect. This is confirmed in the following summation: "And these are the norms of conduct for the man of understanding in these times, concerning what he must love and how he must hate: Everlasting hatred for all the men of the Pit25 because of their spirit of hoarding!" (1QS 9:21,22; cf. 9:16 and Josephus, Wars of the Jews II, 8,7). But we should not think that this hate is grounded on the absolute election of God which took place at creation: "Truly, the Spirits of light and darkness were made by Him …. The one, God loves everlastingly and delights in all his deeds forever, but the counsel of the other He loathes, and He hates all his ways forever" (1QS 3:25; 4:1). The sectary’s hate is an attempt to align himself with this irrevocable decree.
This basic principle of the sect is not abolished by the reference to 1QS 10:17-20, where we read,
To no man will I render the reward of evil,
with goodness will I pursue each one;
for judgment of all the living is with God,
and He it is who will pay to each man his reward.
I will not envy from a spirit of wickedness
and my soul shall not covet the riches of violence.
As for the multitude of the men of the Pit,
I will not lay hands on them till the Day of Vengeance;
but I will not withdraw my anger far from perverse men,
I will not be content till He begins the Judgment.
Lehmann claims that this represents a higher stage of development in Qumran than 1QS 1:9,10; Jesus must have aligned himself with this stage (p. 144). But even here the sectary's anger (=hate in 1QS 1:10) against the "perverse men" is not overcome, even if he claims to do only good. This "doing of good" sounds in this case like a legalistic renunciation in action of what in his heart he wants to do. Precisely at this point we see the great difference between the "goodness" of the Essene and that which Jesus is aiming at with his command, "Love your enemies!"
It is impossible within the scope of this essay to paint a total picture of Jesus' ethical teaching; yet only within such a picture are his individual commands—like the love command—understandable. Therefore, I must risk some very broad theses which cannot be completely developed or grounded here. According to Mark 10:5, which Jeremias calls "the key to understanding Jesus' total ethical demand,"26 Jesus' message aims at overcoming the hardness of men's hearts. The "commandment" of Moses concerning divorce was given "because of the hardness of your heart" (Mark 10:5). Jesus opposes this commandment and in so doing presupposes a change in men's hearts.27 Insofar as the Law is a reflex of man's hardness of heart, Jesus sets himself against it.28 The command, "love your enemies!" is also an expression of this opposition.
Matthew 5:38 ("You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'") are legal regulations which arose in order to control the evil in men's hearts:29 the lex talionis punishes the criminal;30 the command to love the neighbor and hate the enemy offers a more feasible instruction than "Love your enemies!" and provides a means of preserving solidarity among brothers.31 Therefore Jesus set himself in antithesis to these legal regulations. With his antithetical commands, "Do not resist evil!" (Matt. 5:39) and "Love your enemies!" (Matt. 5:44), Jesus does not intend to bring in a new law; he intends to create a new heart in which evil and the legal regulations which inevitably accompany it are abolished.32 Accordingly, it is proper to say that Jesus' command to love your enemies was a penetrating, concrete expression of his call to repentance."33 While the Essene resolution to do his enemy only good (1QS 10:17) left his heart apparently untouched so that he harbored anger (contrast Matthew 5:22) and was not content 'til judgment should begin (contrast Luke 10:54f.; 19:41), Jesus' command "Love your enemies!" aims first at a radical transformation of man's deepest self (=heart) so that the behavior "which comes from evil" (Matthew 5:37) might be eliminated.
According to the synoptics, this metanoia, or conversion, does not happen when someone Qumran-like, "volunteers" to keep all the hard commands of Jesus. It happens, rather, in a typical fashion when individuals in recognition of their own unworthiness and weakness appeal to Jesus for help, "believing" in his divine power to meet their need (cf. Matthew 8:8,10, 13, 25), or when, in response to Jesus' call, someone leaves all to follow him (cf. Matthew 9:9; 10:38, 19:21; John 8:12)34 The Essenes wanted pure hearts too (1QS 9:106:15). But their way of getting and keeping a pure heart was to subject themselves to a strict legalistic35 way of life. Jesus, on the contrary, abolished such a use of law as a way of salvation (cf. Romans 10:4).
Lehmann tries with three observations to weaken the contradiction between Jesus' command of love and Qumran's command of hate: a) "Jesus cursed whole cities (Matthew 11:20 and parallels);" b) "He says he came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34 and parallels);" and c) "there is not in the New Testament a single example where Jesus practiced his command, "Love your enemies!" (p. 144). C. G. Montefiore accuses Jesus similarly for never practicing what he preached toward his worst "enemies," the Pharisees.36
As far as I can see, the solution to such apparent contradictions is found only in the uniqueness of Jesus' mission and person. When the individual deeds and sayings of Jesus are not brought into relation to this central insight, they remain contradictory. From this theological standpoint, I would offer Lehmann and Montefiore the following answer.
In order to bring salvation, Jesus had to set himself against everything which would cause a man's destruction, for example, the legalistic pride of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-26; Luke 11:42-44; John 5:44). There had to be conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees as long as the Pharisees desired that which would cause them to "fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14). But that means that this conflict and Jesus' hard words were a reflex of his love, his offer of salvation (Matthew 11:28-30). Similarly the woes which Jesus spoke over the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:20-24) were simply an expression of what had already happened when they rejected Jesus' appeal for repentance (v. 20) and the grace of his "mighty deeds" (vv. 21, 23).
Every group that Jesus encounters is divided: some love Jesus and follow him; some love their relatives and possessions and refuse to follow (Matthew 10:34-39). The split is clean between these two halves and that is why Jesus is said to bring a sword (10:34). The separation is not brought about in order to secure a cultic purity in view of the coming Judgment (as in Qumran); on the contrary, it happens because the Judgment is already taking place unexpectedly in Jesus' encounter with Israel. The eschatological presence of the final Judgment is the backside of Jesus' positive offer of salvation. It occurs only in the rejection of his forgiveness (cf. Matthew 21:33-43). Everyone passes sentence on himself by taking offense at Jesus or not (Matthew 11:6).
This has been put in its most impressive form in John 3:17f.: "For God did not send the Son into the world in order that he might judge the world but in order that the world might be saved through him. The one who believes on him is not judged; but the one who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten son of God" (cf. John 5:24; 12:47f). And this has all come to pass "because God so loved the world" (John 3:16).
The conclusion of our brief and limited critique of Lehmann's Jesus Report has been that at two critical points his "unbroken chain" of connections between Jesus and Qumran is indeed broken. To be sure, there is much work left to be done in examining the many others similarities between Jesus and Qumran which Lehmann puts forth. But these two points are so critical that to speak now of any essential unity between Jesus' ministry and Qumran seems impossible. If this is correct, Lehmann's thesis, that Qumran was "the cradle of Christianity," is wrong.
A Closing Prediction and Admonition for American Evangelicals
Lehmann's thesis, which reduces Jesus to an exemplary Essene, has been publicized far and wide, over the radio, in a popular magazine, and in paperback. While the propagation of Lehmann's book reaches the grass roots in West Germany more quickly and more pervasively than it could in America, this does not mean the American church is completely free from the heretical pricks of such popular books. And it is probable that, as has happened in Germany, the buffer that exists between the grass roots of American Christianity and the establishment of theological scholarship will become thinner in the days to come. More scholars, facing a saturation of detail and technicality in their various fields, will turn from research to become "enlighteners" of the public. The results of radical Biblical criticism will cease to be rumors from afar and will confront the local church face to face. This is a challenge to evangelicals, for whom the uniqueness of Jesus is a treasure of inestimable value.
Who in this new situation in the local church will be "adept in teaching" and able to "correct his opponents with gentleness" (2 Timothy 2:24f.)? Will it be the pastors who have skimmed through seminary with an impatient, token gesture at Greek and Hebrew and historical exegesis? Or to put it another way, will God's man for this new situation come from those evangelical seminaries which weaken their language and historical-exegetical requirements in the heat of "practical" fervor, only to awaken a generation later to find they have sold their blessing for a bowl of pottage? I do not doubt that the Good Shepherd will keep his sheep in the coming years, but perhaps he is doing this now by admonishing us to take heed, lest, through shortness of vision, we forfeit many precious gifts which he has given.
1F.J. Schierse, Jesus von Nazareth (Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald Verlag, 1972, p. 9. The English translation here and elsewhere is my own.
2This statistic was told me by Professor Leonhard Goppelt in a seminar in November, 1973.
3For the older and newer literature, see Gerhard Strube, ed., Were war Jesus von Nazareth: die Erforachung einer historischen Gestalt (Munich: Kindler Verlag, 1972). For the English language literature, see John Reuman, Jesus in the Church's Gospels: Modern Scholarship and the Earliest Sources (London: SPCK, 1970), pp. 501-13.
4Cf. Heinrich Spaemann, ed., Wer ist Jesus von Nazareth für mich?100 Zeitgenössische Zeugnisse (Munich: Kösel Verlag, 1973).
5Marxism, having focused so heavily on the social dimensions of life, is notoriously lacking in an adequate anthropology. Its view of man is stunted. In their beginning efforts to fill this void in their system, a number of Marxists have focused on the humanity of Jesus as a possible model for the contemporary Marxist. See especially Milan Machoveč, Jesus für Atheisten (Stuttgart: Kreuz Verlag, 1972). Cf. also the works of Ernst Bloch, Vitězslav Gardavsky and L. Kolaskowski.
6One of the most recent sensations has been a book by Rudolf Augstein, the editor of Der Spiegel, West German's counterpart to Time. In his Jesus, Menschensohn, (Munich: C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 1972), Augstein heads his first chapter with a quote from Hans Conzelmann: "The church draws its life from the fact that the results of the scientific Life-of-Jesus research are not made public in it" (p. 13). He aims then to show that "Jesus did not really speak the words put in his mouth and he did hardly any of the deeds attributed to him" (p. 12). The book received quick and severe criticism, as well as wide popularity. In the same year a collection of essays by esteemed scholars was published, entitled Augstein's Jesus: eine Dokumentation, Rudolf Pesch and Gunter Stachel, expectations. (Zurich: Bnzinger Verlag, 1972). Eduard Schweizer writes on p. 55, "The book is an example of how one can manipulate opinion, if one possesses enough money and irresponsibility."
7Jesus Report: Protokoll einer Verfüischung (Munich: Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, 1973, first published in Düsseldorf: Econ Verlag, 1970). The significance of the book is shown by the major reviews it has received (cf. Eduard Lohse, Evangelische Kommentare, 3, 1970, pp. 652-55) and by the fact that an entire book of essays has been devoted to discussing it: Rudolf Schnackenburg, Karlheinz Müller, and Gerhard Dautzenberg, Rabbi J: eine Auseinandersetzung mit Johannes Lehmann, Jesus Report (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1970).
8It is almost impossible for an American to imagine how much of the "media" is devoted in West Germany to discussion of scholarly issues. It is by no means taken for granted that television, radio and magazines are primarily for "entertainment."
9Lehmann, p. 45. The following page references in the text refer to this book.
10For the generally accepted contention that the Qumran documents, discovered first in the summer of 1947 in caves on the northwest banks of the Dead Sea, actually stem from an Essene community, see A. Dupont-Sommer, The Essene Writings from Qumran (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1961), pp. 18f. and especially Chapter 2. An overview of the research on Qumran can be found conveniently in the articles "Qumran" and "Essener" in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 34d ed. (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1957-65). For recent methodological reflections on the use of the Qumran literature for New Testament exegesis see "Methodische Voraussetzengen für einen sachgem Umgang des Neutestamentler mit den Qumranschriften" in Eingführung in die Methoden der Biblischen Exeges, José Schreiner, ed. (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1971), pp. 261-302.
11However, in order to establish these points with certainty, one would have to heed Müller's ("Umgang," p. 320; see my n. 10) admonition to test whether the cited texts may not be contradicted by others belonging to another stage of the Qumran development. It is Müller's thesis that "Qumran" does not present a single unified system of doctrine and practice, but that the literature presupposes a longer development.
12Except where I translate Lehmann's quotes of the Qumran texts, I will be using A. Dupont-Sommer's The Essen Writing from Qumran (see my n. 10).
13Compare the use of Isaiah 40:3 with reference to John the Baptist (Luke 1:76; Mark 1:3 parallel, Matt. 3:3; Luke 3:4) and the Qumran sectary (1QS 8:13).
14Cf. Oepke, "baptō," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), I, 537. Hereafter TDNT.
15Cf. Schnackenburg, Rabbi J (see my n. 7), p. 18
16For a fuller discussion and support of these points see H. H. Rowley, "The Baptism of John and the Qumran Sect" in New Testament Essays, Studies in Memory of T. W. Manson, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1959), pp. 219-23. G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1963), pp. 11-18, ascribes a uniqueness to the novice's first bath (p. 17); and most concisely Goppelt ("hudōr," TDNT, VIII, 321.) The pertinent texts in Qumran are 1QS 3:1-12; 4:21; 5:13f.; CD 10:10-13.
17According to Josephus (Wars of the Jews, II, 8, 10), for an Essene even to touch a stranger meant he had to wash himself.
18The term hamartōlos, which is used along with telōnēs, is a comprehensive word for the man whose way of life is fundamentally and perpetually in contradiction to God's demands" (Michel, "telōnēs," TDNT, VIII, 104). "For the Pharisee, however,"—and his usage is reflected in the synoptics—"a hamartōlos is one who does not subject himself to the Pharisaic ordinances" (Rengstorf, "hamartōlos" TDNT, I, 528)
19In order to measure what Jesus did when he ate with sinners, one must realize that in the Orient the acceptance of a man into table fellowship until this very day has been an honor which means an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness," J. Jeremias, Newtestamentliche Theologie, Erster Teil; Die Verkündigugn Jesu (Gütersloh: Gütersloh Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1971), p. 117.
20So Charles Smith, The Jesus of the Parables (Philadelphia: 1948), p. 10 and R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963), p. 196.
21For example, L. Schottroff, "Das Gleichnis vom verlorenen Sohn" Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, 68 (1971), 27-52. She argues mainly from the contention that the Pharisees in Jesus' day could not have recognized themselves or their theological conception in the elder brother (p. 50). She overlooks, I think, that the parable is not a description of what the Pharisees thought, but is a penetrating interpretation by Jesus of who they really were, whether they would be willing to recognize it or not. It was thus a summons to them to repent and join the "sinners" in fellowship with Jesus and thus with the Father.
22For example Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition, p. 196, who sees the intention of the parable: "to make plain the fatherly goodness of God which unconditionally forgives self-condemning remorse." This interpretation does not do justice to the second half of the parable in which the elder brother surely is a reference to the Pharisees. Cf. especially 15:19.
23Jesus, Paul and Judaism, an Introduction to New Testament Theology (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1964), p. 67. Similarly Gutbrod, "nomos," TDNT, IV, 1060.
24Goppelt, Jesus, Paul and Judaism, p. 68f.
25The "men of the Pit" and the "sons of darkness" are designations for those who do not belong to the holy remnant, that is, the Essene community. Dupont-Sommer, Essene Writings (see my n. 10), p. 73, n. 3.
26J. Jeremias, Jesus als Weltvollender (Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 1930, p. 63.
27Jesus' concern with the heart, with the "inside of the cup," is a motif running throughout the gospels; see for example, in Matthew 5:8,28' 6:21; 9:4; 12:34; 13:15; 15:8,19; 18:35; 22:37; 23:25-28; 24:48.
28Gutbrod, TDNT, IV, 1064: "The law as it is presupposes the sin of man as a given factor which cannot be altered. With relationship to Jesus and membership in the basileia tou theou, however, there is restored the order of creation [cf. Mark 10:6-8] which does not accept sin as a given factor."
29"The antitheses address the man who, with the help of the Old Testament instructions, adjusts himself into the inevitable coexistence with evil." Goppelt, "Das Problem der Bergpredigt," Christologie und Ethik (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1968), p. 32.
30"The Law limits the lust for revenge, which belong to the natural hardness of heart, to the basic principle…like for like; but God wills that we be completely rid of it" R. Liechtenhan, Gottes Gebot im Neuen Testament (Basel: Helbing and Liechtenhahn, 1942), p. 31.
31In the context of Leviticus 19:16-18 the parallelism makes it evident that "Love your neighbor" means love your fellow-Israelite (or impatriated sojourner, 19:34). So Greeven, "plēsion," TDNT, VI, 314f.; Jeremias, Theologie, p. 206; and H. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrasch, 5th ed. (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1969), I, 353.
32This abolition must be understood as an eschatological event which is only as real and absolute now in this evil age as the reality and absoluteness of the new age which Jesus has brought. Since the new age, the Kingdom of God in Jesus' ministry there and now is only hidden and partial, this abolition does not necessarily mean pacifism and the end of all divorce laws, etc.
33The actual verb metanoeō is found on Jesus' lips in the synoptics on only two occasions in an imperative sense; Matthew 4:17 parallel, Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3f. The other occasions of its use by Jesus are indicative: Matthew 11:21 parallel, Luke 10:13; Matthew 12:41; Luke 11:32; 15:7,10; 16:30; 17:3. H. Flender, Die Botschaft Jesu von der Herrschaft Gottes (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1969), I, 353.
34For a detailed development and defense of this thesis see L. Goppelt, "Begründung des Glaubens durch Jesus," Christologie und Ethik (see my n. 29, pp. 44-65).
35By legalism I mean a more or less concealed pride in one's virtue which tends to think of goodness as adherence to a detailed code instead of full-hearted love to God. There are texts in Qumran which do not sound legalistic at all (e.g., 1WS 11:9, 10). But as far as I can see, the humility expressed here did not work itself out consistently in the teaching and practice of Qumran as a whole.
36Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teachings (New York: KTAV, 1970), p. 103.
© 2015 Desiring God Foundation. Distribution Guidelines
Share the Joy! You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2015 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org