Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The DSS and Syriac Christianity

PHILIP JENKINS: Christians in Babylon (The Anxious Bench). Excerpt:
Recently, scholar Joseph Amar examined this Jewish context in an important article published in the Times Literary Supplement (October 3, 2014) under the title “A Shared Voice: When Jews and Christians Drank from the Same Wells.” Because it is paywall-protected, I will summarize its conclusions here.

Amar noted how closely Mesopotamian Christians resembled not just sectarian Judaism in general, but specifically the world of the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Like the Qumran sectarians, they used the word ‘holiness,’ – qadishutha in Aramaic – as the technical term for their practice of celibacy. And like the ‘Men of Holiness’ at Qumran, they took vows that spoke of an impending battle between good and evil. ” A direct link between the community that produced the scrolls and the Christians of Mesopotamia seemed to be the only way to account for such explicit parallels.”
I explore some of these parallels in an exercise in counterfactual history presented at a conference some years ago: "The Odes of Isaiah: A Newly Discovered Syriac Pseudepigraphon - A Thought Experiment." The paper was later published as "Counterfactual History and the Dead Sea Scrolls," (see here for full citation).