Jesus’ world view is widely characterized as apocalyptic and eschatological. In this paper, I propose that Jesus’ exorcisms and healings – as reported in the Gospel accounts – were intended not merely as apocalyptic signs, but were performed by Jesus and his disciples to effect the entry of the diseased and disabled into God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus’ attempts to heal others and his emphasis on moral behavior are rooted in biblical concerns with the maintenance of holiness, according to which only pure and unblemished creatures may enter God’s presence. The Qumran sect also had an apocalyptic world view, but in contrast to Jesus’ inclusive approach, they excluded the blemished and impure from the sectarian and messianic assemblies.
Mark and Q; see EhrmanApocalyptic Prophet197–99; Morton Smith Jesus the Magician (San Francisco: Harper & Row 1978) pp. 10–12; Thomas Kazan Jesus and Purity Halakhah Was Jesus Indifferent to Purity? (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International 2002) p. 332.
See EhrmanApocalyptic Prophet pp. 198–99; Émile Puech ‘Messianism Resurrection and Eschatology’ in E. Ulrich and J. VanderKam (eds.) The Community of the Renewed Covenant The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Notre Dame in: Notre Dame University Press 1993) pp. 235–56 (244). Kazen Jesus and Purity pp. 324–25 says ‘While it is possible to look at magic and miracles outside an eschatological context this is not likely in the case of Jesus. This applies especially to his exorcisms. The overall context for Jesus’ activities according to the Synoptic gospel traditions is the kingdom of God.’
See OlyanRites and Rank pp. 104 108; Jonathan Klawans Purity Sacrifice and the Temple. Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press 2006) pp. 58 63 112. For the extension of this requirement within the sacred area of the temple to all Israelites and not only priests see Aharon Shemesh ‘”The Holy Angels Are in Their Council”: The Exclusion of Deformed Persons from Holy Places in Qumranic and Rabbinic Literature’ dsd 4.2 (1997) pp. 179–206 (185–86).
See OlyanRites and Rank pp. 16–17. For Jesus’ attitude to ritual purity laws see Kazen Jesus and Purity. I agree with Cecilia Wassen ‘The Jewishness of Jesus and Ritual Purity’ that ‘There is no evidence that Jesus transgressed challenged or disregarded purity laws’ and that most Jews were not generally concerned with avoiding impurity (I am grateful to Wassen for sharing with me her unpublished paper). For the importance of purity – both ritual and moral - in God’s presence and kingdom see Bruce Chilton Pure Kingdom Jesus’ Vision of God (Grand Rapids mi: Eerdmans 1996) pp. 38–40. However Chilton frames Jesus’ purity concerns with regard to the kingdom of God mainly in relation to table fellowship; see pp. 80 90 98. For a critique of Chilton’s position see Kazen Jesus and Purity pp. 24–25.
See OlyanRites and Rank pp. 17 49 172n. 36; Wright ‘Holiness’ pp. 245–46; Wright ‘Unclean and Clean’ p. 736. David P. Wright The Disposal of Impurity (Atlanta: Scholars Press 1987) p. 163 (and ff.) argues that ‘only communicable impurities those which can pollute the profane sphere are excluded from or restricted in this sphere while noncommunicable impurities those which cannot affect other nonholy persons and objects are not excluded from or restricted in this sphere. These lesser impurities like all impurities are only restricted from the holy sphere.’
Whereas KazenJesus and Purity p. 338concludes that ‘In view of God’s coming reign and the powers of authority associated with it Jesus did not regard impurity in the form of contact-contagion as menacing enough to give it much attention.’
KlawansPurity Sacrifice and the Temple pp. 54–55 70–71 93. Also see Olyan Rites and Rank p. 144 n. 16 who describes these as ‘behavioral offenses’ while Wright ‘Unclean and Clean’ 733 categorizes them as ‘prohibited impurities’ (in contrast to unavoidable impurities). Feder distinguishes between ‘cultic’ and ‘non-cultic’ instead of ‘ritual’ and ‘moral’ purity and impurity; see Yitzhak Feder ‘The Wilderness Camp Paradigm in the Holiness Source and the Temple Scroll: From Purity Laws to Cult Politics’ jaj 5.3 (2014) pp. 290–310 (305–6 including n. 69). Kazen Jesus and Purity pp. 204–35 261 criticizes Klawans’ equation of literal with ritual purity and metaphorical with moral impurity.
See KlawansPurity Sacrifice and the Temple p. 154; Saul M. Olyan ‘The Exegetical Dimensions of Restrictions on the Blind and the Lame in Texts from Qumran’ dsd 8.1 (2001) pp. 38–50 (40 n. 6; 43 n. 18).
Shemesh‘The Holy Angels’ p. 189; also see p. 188: ‘Scripture characterizes the performance of sacred duties by priests with deformities as profanation of the Temple… This profanation evidently arises from the polarity between holiness perceived as perfection and deformity its opposite.’
Lawrence H. SchiffmanThe Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Atlanta: Scholars Press1989) pp. 37 51; Heinz-Wolfgang Kuhn ‘Jesus’ in L. H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam (eds.) Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls 1 (New York: Oxford University Press 2000) pp. 404–8 (405).
John J. CollinsThe Scepter and the Star The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (New York: Doubleday1996) pp. 59 76 109; John J. Collins ‘Eschatology’ in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls 1 pp. 256–61; John J. Collins ‘Teacher and Messiah? The One Who Will Teach Righteousness at the End of Days’ in The Community of the Renewed Covenant pp. 193–210 (195–96 199); Collins Apocalyptic Imagination p. 157; Schiffman Eschatological Community pp. 6–7. For an overview see Michael A. Knibb ‘Eschatology and Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls’ in P. W. Flint and J. C. VanderKam (eds.) The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years 2 (Leiden: Brill 1999) pp. 379–402. For the term ‘end of days’ see Collins The Scepter and the Star pp. 104–9; John J. Collins Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Routledge 1997) p. 151.
See CollinsApocalyptic Imagination p. 147; Devorah Dimant ‘Apocalyptic Texts at Qumran’ in The Community of the Renewed Covenant pp. 175–91 (179–80 188–89); Hogeterp Expectations of the End pp. 336–39.
SchiffmanEschatological Community p. 7. Collins ‘Teacher and Messiah?’ 196 argues (pace George Brooke) that the sect did not believe the end of days was underway. According to Puech ‘Messianism Resurrection and Eschatology’ p. 253 ‘the Essenes did not adopt a purely realized eschatology.’ For a critique of Puech’s view see Knibb ‘Eschatology’ p. 384; also see John J. Collins ‘Apocalypticism and Literary Genre in the Dead Sea Scrolls’ in The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years 2 pp. 403–30 (426–27).
Kuhn‘Jesus’407; also see Heinz.-Wolfgang Kuhn ‘Qumran Texts and the Historical Jesus: Parallels in Contrast’ in L. H. Schiffman E. Tov and J. C. VanderKam (eds.) The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After their Discovery Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress July 20–25 1997 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society 2000) pp. 573–580 (579); Ehrman Apocalyptic Prophet 177 180.
See Olyan‘Exegetical Dimensions’ p. 48who attributes the exclusion of the blind and the lame in 1QSa and 1QM to profanation rather than pollution but notes that these categories are based on biblical legislation concerning pollution. Also see Olyan Rites and Rank p. 111.
CollinsThe Scepter and the Star p. 59; Collins Apocalyptic Imagination p. 167; Martin G. Abegg ‘Messianic Hope and 4Q285: A Reassessment’ jbl 113.1 (1994) pp. 81–91 (86); also see 11Q14; 1QM 5:1; cd 7:20–21.
See HogeterpExpectations of the End pp. 277–81 446–48; Kuhn ‘Jesus’ p. 407; Puech ‘Messianism Resurrection and Eschatology’ p. 245; Collins The Scepter and the Star pp. 117–23. Kazen Jesus and Purity pp. 168–69 247 327 suggests that the messiah in this work might heal though the reference seems to be to God.
See Puech‘Messianism Resurrection and Eschatology’ p. 245; Collins The Scepter and the Star pp. 118 120 205 suggests ‘it is likely that God acts through the agency of a prophetic messiah’ (p. 120) either Elijah or a prophet like Elijah.
Also see SmithJesus the Magician p. 144where he says that Jesus claimed to be a supernatural being on whom the Law was not binding. However Ehrman Apocalyptic Prophet 164–65 shows that the Gospel accounts indicate the Torah’s centrality to Jesus’ life; also see p. 172.