Class Three Jewish Views of the Messiah
RECAP • 1st Temple • 2nd Temple • Maccabean Revolt
Setting the Stage • People assumed, in large part to the rise of Christianity, that there was ONE concept of a messiah being developed and considered until the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth. • As William Scott Green points out, “Most scholarship on the messiah has postulated for both Judaism and its Israelite precursor(s) a single, uniform religious pattern in which messianic belief was both decisive and generative… Any notion of a messianic belief or idea in ancient Judaism necessarily presupposes that ‘messiah’ was a focal and evocative native category for ancient Jews” William Scott Green, “Introduction: Messiah in Judaism: Rethinking the Question” in Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, Jacob Neuser, William S. Green and Ernest Frerichs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 2.
Setting the Stage • This turned out to be a false assumption, as messianism has its own developments. • “One of the most important aspects of Jewish theology was messianism, that is, various beliefs regarding a coming figure called the ‘Messiah’ or ‘Anointed One’. Most Jews were looking for one and in some cases several Messiah(s). Messianic expectations were anything but uniform, as the NT and Second Temple literature attest”Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, The Cross, and The Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville, Tenn.: B & H Academic, 2009), 94.
Setting the Stage • What changed/developed in scholarship that changed this view? • Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls • The primary reason for a reassessment of Jewish messianism at this time is the availability of new evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls • Messianism owes its own continuing influence throughout the Second-Temple period in large part to the convergence between its thematic importance in the Hebrew scriptures and the pressures of contemporary Jewish life
The Term “Messiah” • The term Messiah comes from the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ meaning “the anointed one”Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, trans. M. E. J. Richardson, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 645. • It occurs thirty-eight times throughout the Old Testament, but it is interesting to note that the technical term does not carry the notions that became associated with itIbid., 645.
The Term “Messiah” • Darrell Bock classifies the thirty-eight occurrences: twice to the patriarchs, six times to the high priest, once to Cyrus (Isa. 45:1), twenty-nine times to the king (including Saul, David, and an unnamed Davidic king in Ps. 2:1-2), and once to an eschatological figure (Dan. 9:25-26)”Darrell L. Bock, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002), 132. • These occurrences confirm that the term messiah grew out of the original textual meaning and took on a theological idea
The Term “Messiah” • In these contexts the term denotes one invested, usually by God, with power and leadership, but never an eschatological figure. Ironically, in the apocalyptic book of Daniel (9:25f), where an eschatological messiah would be appropriate, the term refers to a murdered high priest”. • Could this eschatological notion have come from somewhere else?
The Term “Messiah” • Bock touches on this, writing, “The term is absent from the Apocrypha, yet so much of the Old Testament looked forward to the eschatological day of vindication or to a period of peace through a great, victorious rule that there always remained the hope for many that one day God would complete his promise through such a figure… It is the lack of explicit reference to this figure and the variety of images associated with the end-time hope that led to the competing views in Jewish end-time expectations”
The Term “Messiah” • Looking at the word in isolation with the text, the word does not carry the eschatological idea. However, the ideas and notions about messianism in Judaism developed over time with the help of overarching messianic ideas found in the Old Testament as well as the hope of the actual community. Thus, the word became fused and associated with this idea known today as Messiah.
Angelic Son of Man Messiah • One view that was circulating during the Second Temple Period was the notion of an angelic figure that would come and redeem the Jewish people • Bock description, “Works written at or just after the time of Jesus also speak of a figure who is an eschatological judge of humanity, the Son of Man…He also appears to have messianic qualities but is seen in more transcendent terms than a mere king. So the Son of Man represents yet another expression of eschatological hope”
Angelic Son of Man • Daniel 7 is thought to have been an influential text for this view • Daniel 7:13-14, “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
Angelic Son of Man • What the characteristics of this Son of Man? • He is not just a moral ruler, but one who “will not pass away” • He has divine qualities • He is sent from God
Angelic Son of Man • It is supposed that Daniel 7 influenced the apocryphal book 1 Enoch • Enoch (in common with Elijah) occupies this singular position among the Old Testament men of God that when removed from the earth he was carried directly to heaven…Accordingly at a somewhat early period probably as far back as the second century before Christ an apocalyptic writing appeared purporting to have been composed by Enoch which work was subsequently issued in an enlarged and revised form.
Angelic Son of Man • This Book of Enoch was already known to the author of the Book of “Jubilees” and of the ‘Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs’ and was afterwards a great favorite in the Christian Church. As is well known it is quoted in the Epistle of Jude (14 15) while many of the Fathers use it without hesitation as the genuine production of Enoch and as containing authentic divine revelations although it has never been officially recognized by the Church as canonical… Emil Shurer • 1 Enoch mentions this Son of Man in several places: 1 Enoch 39-71, esp. 46:1-5; 48:2-7; 62:3-14; 63:11; 69:27-70:1; 71:17
Angelic Son of Man • For example, in 1 Enoch 46:2 it says, “And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days?” • Verse 4 the angel says, “And this Son of Man whom thou hast seen shall raise up the kings and the mighty from their seats, [and the strong from their throne] And shall loosen the reins of the strong, and break the teeth of the sinners.” • What do you notice about this messiah?
Angelic Son of Man • There is a sense that this Son of Man will be a redeemer to his people, and hold judgment over those who have mistreated the righteous • Another good example of the messianic hope found in 1 Enoch comes in 1 Enoch 69:29, “And from henceforth there shall be nothing corruptible; For that Son of Man has appeared, and has seated himself on the throne of his glory, and all evil shall pass away before his face, and the word of that Son of Man shall go forth and be strong before the Lord of Spirit”
Angelic Son of Man • It is easy to see in 1 Enoch how a messianic hope would arise. 1 Enoch is filled with messianic notions and the coming of the Son of Man. If the dating on 1 Enoch is accurate in that it was formulated in the Second Temple Period, then it makes sense as to why the notion of a transcendent angelic figure was floating around the Jewish community due to its being held as authoritative. • John H. Collins comments on this and the evidence found from the Dead Sea Scrolls supporting this claim, saying, “The Dead Sea Scrolls provide ample evidence that the canon had not been closed around the turn of the era. Books such as Enoch and Jubilees are preserved in multiple copies and were widely authoritative” Scepter and the Star
Prophet (?) Messiah • This differs from the Son of Man view because this messianic figure was more of a prophetic figure, not one who had divine qualities and would sit on a throne of glory, like the one we found in 1 Enoch • This is difficult to discern because there is a mixing of terminologies that caused scholars to wonder. Bock comments on this saying, “Associated with the eschatological time was the expectation of a prophetic figure. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether this was another way to refer to the Messiah or whether he was seen as a distinct figure like Moses or Elijah.”
Prophet (?) • A key text for this view comes from 1 Maccabees 14:41 where it says, “And the Jews and the priests were well pleased that Simon should be their leader and high-priest forever, until a faithful prophet should arise.” • Another key text is from Sirach 48:1-11. For example, in Sirach 48:1, 3-4 it says, “Until there arose a prophet like fire, whose word was like a burning furnace… By the word of God he shut up the heavens; Fire also descended thrice. How terrible was thou, Elijah! And he who is like thee shall be glorified.” • Notice the reference to Elijah here but as the text continues, it becomes more blurred as to who/what is being referred to.
Prophet (?) • Sirach 48:8-11 reads, “Who anointedst kings for retribution, and a prophet as successor in thy place. Who art ready for the time, as it is written, to still wrath before the fierce anger of God, to turn the heart of the fathers unto the children, and to restore the tribes of Israel. Blessed is he that seeth thee, and dieth.” • The language here seems to suggest that someone else will come and take the place of Elijah
Prophet (?) • Another source on this topic is in the works of Philo • Philo is an important source for scholars today. Philo is known as one of the most important Jewish authors of the Second Temple period of Judaism and was a contemporary of both Jesus and Paul • He is considered only second to Josephus
Prophet (?) • Philo writes in Special Laws 1.11 about Moses telling his disciples about the future. Philo writes, “He says, that if they are truly pious they shall not be deprived of a proper knowledge of the future; (65) but that some other prophet will appear to them on a sudden, inspired like himself, who will preach and prophesy among them, saying nothing of his own” • There was a definite idea floating around that someday another prophet would come. The only part that remains blurry is whether he would be like another Moses/ Elijah or something completely different
King/Military Messiah • This Davidic view is clearly articulated in Psalms of Solomon 17-18, where the hope is for a wise, powerful king who will exercise God’s judgment and vindication • This Davidic King was popular amongst the Jewish people. In some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is mention of a Davidic Messiah that will come and vindicate Israel • Obviously the basis of this hope derives from King David
King/Military Messiah • The Jewish people viewed David as the greatest Israelite king to have existed and the expectation was the messianic king would be like another King David, where he would rid the land of all its enemies, and reestablish the nation of Israel. This king then functions to bring order in the ways of war as well as politics • Bock asserts, “Through him, victory, peace, and wisdom would come to God’s people as Gentiles were vanquished.”
King/Military Messiah • Does this idea fit within the Second Temple Period? • YES. Rome occupies Israel, and Gentile influences are everywhere • This was the predominant view in the Jewish community • James D.G. Dunn discusses this Davidic view in that period saying, “Most important here is the hoped-for Davidic or royal messiah…We may conclude that these passages must have nurtured a fairly vigorous and sustained hope of a royal messiah within several at least subgroups of Israel at the time of Jesus, and that that hope was probably fairly widespread at a popular level (such being the symbolic power of kingship in most societies then and since. Talk of an expected ‘coming of the Messiah’ would have been meaningful to first-century Jews and represented a major strand of Jewish eschatological expectations.”
A King AND A Priest • The fourth view of the messiah in the Second Temple Period comes from the Qumran community • They had a view of two figures coming, one being a priest, and the other being a king • The findings in the Qumran community have opened discussion about this topic which completely revolutionized past scholar’s views on messianism in the Judaism. This group is profoundly important to the research and understanding of the Second Temple Period and the view on the coming Messiah(s)
A King AND A Priest • The Qumran community, which had reacted negatively to the Hasmonean blending of kingship and priesthood, apparently anticipated a pair of messianic figures, one priestly (a Levitical messiah) and the other regal • One of the first scrolls published, the Community Rule or Manual of Discipline (1QS) contains a famous passage, which is widely regarded as a summary of messianic expectations of the Qumran sect: “They shall depart from none of the counsels of the Law to walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, but shall be ruled by the primitive precepts in which the men of the Community were first instructed until there shall come the Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” (1QS 9:11).
A King AND A Priest • When looking at the relationship then between the Priestly messiah and royal messiah, there is a unique authority set forth. According to the Qumran community, the royal messiah was to refer to the priestly one.
A King AND A Priest • Ex. 1QSa shows the division of authority, To the feast, men of renown, and they shall sit be[fore him, each] according to his importance. Afterwards, [the messiah] of Israel [shall enter] and the heads of the [thousands of Israel] shall sit before him [ea]ch according to his importance…[no] one [shall extend] his hand to the first (portion) of the bread and [the wine] before the priest. Fo[r he shall extend] his hand to the bread first. Afterwa[rds,] the messiah of Israel [shall exten]d his hand to the bread. [Afterwards,] all of the congregation of the community [shall ble]ss, ea[ch according to] his importance…
What Does This Mean? • What does knowing this do for us today? • Where did these spring up from again? • Do we see traces of this in the NT?