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Eschatological Failure as God’s Mystery: Reassessing Prophecy and Reality at Qumran and in Nascent Christianity

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
Author: Serge Ruzer1
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The article discerns in both Qumranic sources and in those coming from the nascent Jesus movement responses to their shared experience of disappointment vis-à-vis postponement of the expected redemption. The discussion, focusing on 1QpHab and a number of New Testament epistles, highlights the usage in this context of the language of God’s mystery, standing for reinterpretation of redemption-centered prophecies and their adjustment to a new timetable. While no clear direct links can be posited, the comparative study of the texts independently penned within the two eschatological groups allows to single out an underlying more general late Second Temple religious pattern of coping with delay in the anticipated end-of-days deliverance.

Abstract

The article discerns in both Qumranic sources and in those coming from the nascent Jesus movement responses to their shared experience of disappointment vis-à-vis postponement of the expected redemption. The discussion, focusing on 1QpHab and a number of New Testament epistles, highlights the usage in this context of the language of God’s mystery, standing for reinterpretation of redemption-centered prophecies and their adjustment to a new timetable. While no clear direct links can be posited, the comparative study of the texts independently penned within the two eschatological groups allows to single out an underlying more general late Second Temple religious pattern of coping with delay in the anticipated end-of-days deliverance.

1 Introduction

In a supplementary study appended to the third edition of his book on Jesus, David Flusser suggested an illuminating distinction between the eschatological perceptions of the historical Jesus and those of John the Baptist.1 Whereas the Baptist subscribed to a two-part scenario—“ordinary” time eventually interrupted by the intervention of apocalyptical judgment—Jesus thought in terms of a three-part scheme that included a prolonged intermediary period, that of (“growing” of) the Kingdom of God/Heaven, different from both regular time and the end-of-days proper. According to Flusser, John the Baptist’s acute eschatological anticipation was close to that of the Qumran covenanters, whereas Jesus’s stance epitomized a particular combination of a subdued apocalyptic expectation with a complementing emphasis on the here-and-now aspects of the Kingdom, which would reappear later in rabbinic sources.2

Though Flusser’s analysis of Jesus’s own Kingdom-of-God idea is convincing, the insistence on the Qumranic outlook as locked on a two-part scenario may need a reassessment. Some of the perceptions attested in the collection of manuscripts from the caves around Qumran seem to reflect the need to supply with befitting meaning the intermediary pre-eschatological period imposed on the group(s) behind the scrolls by the actual turn of events—namely, the disappointingly prolonged “sojourn in the desert.”3 Another three-part eschatological scheme—very different also from that of Jesus himself—would be developed by some of his followers during the uneasy decades following the initial excitement in anticipation of the Messiah’s speedy triumphal return. Such schemes seem to have been necessitated by the experience of disappointment, shared, mutatis mutandis, by the two movements. The following discussion focuses on those strategies, employed in the Qumranic Pesher Habakkuk and in a number of the New Testament texts, which present the “challenge of postponement” as God’s mystery.

2 Heavenly Secrets as the Content of Revelation

The general use of mystery language for denoting heavenly mysteries—both those of the world of the angels, including the rebellion of some of them, and those of the process of the creation and structure of the cosmos—is characteristic of Second Temple apocalyptic literature. This general use can be exemplified by the promise in the opening paragraph of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch (“[Enoch will be] an eyewitness of the . . . inconceivable and immutable realm of God Almighty”), which is fulfilled throughout the book, for example, in 24:1–4:4

And the Lord called me and placed me to the left of himself, closer than Gabriel. . . . And the Lord spoke to me, “Whatever you see, youth, things standing still and moving about, perfected by me: I myself will explain it to you. Before anything existed, from the beginning I created from nothing into being and from the invisible into the visible.5 Not even to my angels have I announced my secrets/mysteries (танны моеа), nor explained to them their composition, nor my endlessness or the inconceivable conceiving of creation as I reveal to you today. . . .”

The fate of men, derived from the balance of their deeds, is likewise presented as the content of the secret knowledge (1 En. 41:1–2):6

And after that, I saw all the secrets in heaven . . . and how the actions of the people are weighed in the balance. And there I saw the dwelling place of the elect and the company of the holy ones; and my eyes saw the sinners—those who deny the name of the Lord of the Spirits—being expelled from there. . . .

Though in most instances the revealed mystery does not have an explicitly eschatological emphasis, eschatology may sometimes be part of it.7 The appearance of the Aramaic term רזא (raza, secret, mystery) in Dan 2 and 4, where it denotes the true meaning (pesher) of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed to Daniel in a heavenly vision, deserves notice. The meaning pertains to the (unexpected) future turn in world history, with the triumph of Israel and its God, thereby exemplifying the eschatological aspect of heavenly mysteries of which the rulers of the world are unaware.

3 Dead Sea Scrolls Evidence

Basic perceptions of heavenly mysteries attested elsewhere in the Second Temple Jewish sources are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls—sometimes adjusted to the particular sectarian setting. Thus the general predilection for knowledge of “mysteries (razei) of wonder and truth (רזי פלא ואמת)” denoting God’s will concerning the conduct of the sons of light is highlighted in the Rule of the Community (1QS 9:17–19).8 The Hodayot scroll exemplifies the perception of God’s mysteries, revealed to the author (1QHa 9:23 [1:21]; 10:15 [2:13]), as pertaining to creation in the beginning—in the lines of Jub. 2—of invisible and visible entities (thus “their mysteries רזיהם”, e.g., 1QHa 9:11–13 [1:9–11], cf.9:29–33 [1:27–31]).9 The mystery of iniquity—namely, the fact that those “guilty of deviating from God’s works” are allowed to persist in their sinfulness—is also featured here (e.g., in 1QHa 13:27, 38 [5:25, 36]). The emphasis dictated by the nature of the composition, however, is not on eschatological resolution but rather on the author’s aspiration to teach the received mysteries to the chosen ones (1QHa 19:12–13 [11:9–10]).

To these general patterns may be added some mystery (raz)-related references to the problematic current phase in the history of the community, characterized by the dominion of the Angel of Darkness (וביד מלאך חושכ כול ממשלת בני עול‎, 1QS 3:20–21). According to “the mysteries of God’s” comprehension (לפי רזי אל עד קצו‎, 1QS 3:23, cf. 1QS 4:18: ברזי שכלו), it was preordained that all iniquity is going to be overturned at the time of redemption—the range of meanings of raz (razei) therefore includes also an eschatological one. The present-day dominion of Belial is likewise attributed in the War Scroll (1QM 14:9) to “the mysteries of his (Belial’s) enmity (רזי שטמתו),” with God’s final triumph expressing his “marvelous mysteries (רזי נפלאותיכה)” (1QM 14:14, cf. 3:9; 17:6–9). This raz-centered usage is clearly informed by the experience of the rule of the powers of darkness, ostensibly challenging the group’s acute eschatological anticipation. No attempt, however, can be perceived here to provide this situation with an exegetical backing. It stands to reason that the phrase raz nihyeh, evoked in the final column of the Rule of the Community (רז נהיה‎, 1QS 11:3–4), relates also to the eschatological future.10 It is tailored to both explain the primordial mystery of the double predestination (1QS 11:5–8, cf. 1QS 11:16–20) and establish its link to the mystery of redemption reserved for the chosen only.11

In the Book of Mysteries,12 the terminology of raz appears in a variety of contexts: “mysteries of iniquity (רזי פשע)” (1Q27 1 i 2), “mystery of what is upcoming (רז נהיה)” (1 i 3–4), “marvelous mysteries (רזי פלא)” (1Q27 1 i 7). The copies from Cave 4 provide two more usages: “mysteries of eternity (רזי עולם)” (4Q299 2b 5) and “mysteries of light (רזי אור)” (4Q299 5 2). Although in most cases the exact meaning of the mysteries in question may escape us, it appears that the term functions here in a variety of ways.13 What stands out, inter alia, is the stress on the iniquity of the nations in 1Q27 1 i 7–12—without making Israel an exception—and thus on the iniquity of the world (תבל) as a whole. Combined with the apparent contrasting of the “things of the past (קדמוניות)” to the “mystery of what is upcoming (רז נהיה)” in 1Q27 1 i 3, this indicates a switch from a general, creation-focused emphasis of the raz to that on the mystery of eschatology—remaining, however, as in 1QS 11, intrinsically connected to that of the beginning.14 As in the instances addressed above, no attempt is made in the surviving fragments of the composition to present this understanding of the ultimate mystery as derived from interpretation of authoritative scriptures.

Whether the evidence reviewed reflects a historical development or a synchronic variety is unimportant to me here;15 the outlined patterns of the raz-usage are only to provide a backdrop for discussion of the Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab),16 which exemplifies the outstanding emphasis on the end-of-days-related aspects of God’s mysteries—not surprising within the auspices of the pesher genre.17 Hanan Eshel argued that the first layer of 1QpHab, containing an interpretation of Habakkuk 1–2 and being compiled, it seems, soon after the time of the Teacher of Righteousness, the Man of Lie and the Wicked Priest—the second half of the second century bce—would be later partially reworked.18 This modification, presumably in the mid-first century bce, would thus both reflect a disappointment with the earlier belief in a close redemption and make possible a renewed hope for redemption.19 Eshel’s suggestion was rejected by Jutta Jokiranta, who did not view the thematic division within the Pesher, on which Eshel build his argument, as necessarily pointing to the existence of two historical layers and thus voted for the overall first century bce dating.20 Whatever appraisal is embraced, the Pesher as it stands now may be safely viewed as reflecting a first-century bce response to the current (problematic) course of events.21

Already in 1QpHab 2:2–10, it is stated that the prophetic (מפי אל) gift of reinterpretation of biblical prophecy, given to the Teacher of Righteousness (מורה צדקה) persecuted by the evil Jerusalem priest,22 pertains to its eschatological meanings. Moreover, the eschatological message of the Teacher—who is possibly due to reappear later as the eschatological priest—is repeatedly rejected by the “traitors” (בוגדים) (2:1–10):23

[. . . The interpretation of the word concerns] the traitors (הבוגדים) with the Man of 2 the Lie, since they do not [believe in the words of] the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of 3 God; and (it concerns) the traito[rs of the] new [covenant] si[n]ce they did not 4 believe in the covenant of God [and dishonoured] his holy na[me]. 5 Likewise: Blank The interpretation of the word [concerns the trai]tors in the last 6 days. They are violator[s of the coven]ant who will not believe 7 when they hear all that is going [to happen t]o the final generation (כול הבאות על הדור האחרון), from the mouth of 8 the priest whom God has placed wi[thin the Commun]ity, to foretell the fulfilment of all 9 the words of his servants, the prophets, [by] means of whom God has declared 10 all that is going to happen to his people Is[rael] (את כול הבאות על עמו). . . .

Furthermore, column 7 uses the term raz (mystery) to denote the pesher meaning of Habakkuk’s words revealed to the Teacher of Righteousness and idiosyncratically specifies that this meaning is counterintuitive—namely, that it contradicts the existing understanding of the prophecy, which Habakkuk himself seems to have shared:24

And God told Habakkuk to write what was going to happen to 2 the last generation, but he did not let him know the consummation of the era (ואת גמר הקץ לא הודעו). 3 And as for what he says Hab 2:2 “So that /may run/ who reads it” 4 Its interpretation (פשרו) concerns the Teacher of Righteousness (מורה הצדק), to whom God has made known (אשר הודיעו אל) 5 all the mysteries (כול רזי) of the words of his servants, the prophets (דברי עבדיו הנביאים) Hab 2:3 “For the vision has an appointed 6 time, it will have an end and not fail” 7 Its interpretation (פשרו): the final age will be extended and go beyond all that (אשר יארוך הקץ האחרון יותר מכול) 8 the prophets say (אשר דברו הנביאים), because the mysteries of God are wonderful (כיא רזי אל להפלה). 9 Hab 2:3b “Though it may tarry, wait for it; it definitely has to come and will not 10 delay.” Its interpretation (פשרו) concerns the men of truth 11 those who observe the Torah, whose hands will not desert the service 12 of truth when the final age is extended beyond what they expect (לוא ירפו ידיהם מעבודת האמת בהמשך עליהם הקץ האחרון), because 13 all the ages of God will come at the right time, as he established 14 for them in the mysteries of his prudence (ברזי ערמתו).

The new prophetic understanding repeatedly described as God’s mysteries (רזי),25 previously concealed in the sayings of biblical prophets (and seemingly concealed from them also),26 is detached here from the secrets of creation and those of the heavenly host, focusing exclusively on the unfathomable enigma of the unexpected prolongation of the not-yet-eschatology phase. Whereas the genre prescribes the elaboration’s exegetical presentation, the idea itself seems to have originated in actual despair vis-à-vis the postponement of the anticipated redemption, of which the first signs could have been discerned in the early stages of the group’s history.27

Thus in addition to more general strategies employed elsewhere in the Pesher vis-à-vis the predicaments of the group behind it,28 the crux of 1QpHab 7 is more particular. It is the “crisis of postponement” of the redemption expected in accordance with biblical prophecies already at an earlier stage of the community’s history, accompanied by the defection of the “traitors.” Whereas some similarities to the usages of raz in Daniel may be discerned here,29 the 1QpHab characteristically indicates that it is the eschatological community itself that undergoes the “crisis of postponement” and is in need of encouragement (7:10–14).30

4 Mystery Terminology and Postponement of the End in the New Testament

I turn now to the usages of mystery terminology in the context of another late Second Temple eschatological community’s crises of disappointed anticipation, that of Jesus’s early followers. New Testament traditions themselves clearly indicate that the fact that the Messiah, instead of bringing salvation to the people of Israel, had been crucified could have been and apparently was viewed as absurd and scandalous.31 A solution was perceived as possible only with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which may be seen as a clear indication of it being perceived as difficult to attain.32 If the persecution of a prophet—including an eschatological prophet—could be properly comprehended in light of biblical precedents,33 the crucifixion constituted a crushing blow to the hope that Jesus would inaugurate messianic redemption.34 Accordingly, the Gospels and Acts employ a variety of strategies with the aspiration of providing a meaning for what seems to be the messianic fiasco of crucifixion. This search for meaning is exemplified in the bridging sections of Luke-Acts. On the one hand, it is claimed there—under the authority of Jesus himself—that the biblical prophecies when properly understood do speak about the Messiah’s tragic death and resurrection (Luke 24:25–27; 44–47). On the other hand, the opening of Acts (1:6–11) states that the current debacle will be repaired in the Messiah’s triumphal return.35 One notes that the language of mystery, though seemingly befitting the new, counterintuitive exegesis, advocated by Luke’s Jesus, is not employed here.

In the Synoptic tradition there is only one instance of the language of mystery and that is in the context of the meaning of a parable of kingdom, provided by Jesus (Mark 4:10–12; Matt 13:10–17; Luke 8:9–10), which may be seen as a reflection of the general pattern of revealed mysteries concerning eschatology discussed above. The same may be said about Rev 1:20, where the heavenly vision of seven stars is tailored to reflect the earthly reality of eschatological communities (cf. Rev 10:7). As we will see, however, in Paul’s epistles—mostly the authentic ones but also in some of uncertain attribution—this language features prominently, referring specifically to a crisis of apocalyptical expectation experienced by the eschatological community.

It is tellingly absent, though, from arguably the earliest surviving authentic Pauline epistle, 1 Thessalonians,36 still permeated with acute apocalyptic surety—at least on the part of the author if not on the part of his addressees, who seem already to have had their doubts—in the closeness of Jesus’s return and final salvation (1 Thess 4:13–18).37 This composition, rich in the dualistic sons-of-light versus sons-of-darkness phraseology—as well as the apocalyptic anticipation of God’s wrath to be speedily visited on the latter—may be viewed as representing the rigid two-part salvation scenario David Flusser ascribed to the Qumranites (and to John the Baptist).38 Characteristically, Paul here polemically applies the sons-of-light appellation—which serves the sectarian intra-Jewish self-identification in the Dead Sea Scrolls—to his Gentile addressees.39

The authorship of 2 Thessalonians remains debated, but it is generally agreed that this epistle—even if penned not by Paul but by someone who deliberately imitated 1 Thessalonians—responds to a later situation, trying to mitigate the acute anticipation of the end-of-days redemption propagated in the earlier letter.40 According to the understanding reflected in this text, the end-game scenario the Jesus movement had initially subscribed to was to be prolonged with an intermediary phase of suffering and disaster inflicted by “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:1–9):

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνοµίας) is revealed, the son of perdition (ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας), 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god . . ., so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. . . .8And then the lawless one (ὁ ἄνοµος) will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan (τοῦ σατανᾶ) will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders. . . .

It seems plausible that the epistle builds its argument on an existing pattern of eschatological thought. Whether this pattern is to be discerned in the 4QAramaic Apocalypse (4Q246), as argued by some,41 or another tradition, it is clearly applied here to the peculiar situation of the author’s community. Moreover, even if the author does not use explicit exegetical markers, 2 Thess 2:8 (“and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth”) clearly alludes to Isa 11:5, which is part of the passage routinely understood—as both 4QpIsaa and the targumic tradition indicate42—as referring to the Davidic Messiah (Isa 11:1–5):

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips/mouth he shall slay the wicked (רשע). 5Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.

One notices that רשע “wicked” of Isa 11:4 is idiosyncratically interpreted in 2 Thessalonians as denoting the eschatological “lawless one” rather than the wicked in the plural. And characteristically, in the context of the epistle’s conversation with Isa 11:1–5, the unexpected postponement of Jesus’s redemptive return is described as the mystery revealed at the time. It turns out that before the final “slaying of the wicked one” there will be a period of restraining him (2 Thess 2:7): “For the mystery of lawlessness (µυστήριον τῆς ἀνοµίας) is already at work (ἢδη ἔνεργεῖται); only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.”

1 Corinthians provides glimpses into some other changes occurring in attitudes of Paul himself in light of the delay in final redemption, including those bearing on the apostle’s treatment of the issue of mystery. Already in the beginning of the epistle, Paul rejects claims for esoteric wisdom—possibly perceived as acquired following baptism—by some members of the Jesus who saw themselves as living already now a kind of spiritualized “heavenly” existence.43 It is in contradistinction to such claims that Paul propagates the only true “secret and hidden wisdom of God (θεοῦ σοφίαν ἐν µυστηρίῳ τῆν ἀποκεκρυµµένην)”—namely that of the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah.44 Exegetical effort is focused here not on providing backing for the crucifixion event itself, but rather, not unlike 1QpHab 7, on finding allusions in the biblical prophecies to the earlier blindness to the true wisdom (Isa 29:14 and 64:3)—with their interpretation adjusted to Paul’s intended Gentile (or mixed) audience.45

Later on in the epistle Paul expresses strong reservations with regard to the claims for the revelations of heavenly mysteries of a non-specific kind, not only vis-à-vis the tragic mystery of Jesus’s crucifixion but also in light of Jesus followers’ current predicament—that of the postponement of the final redemption. Starting his reassessment of the ecstatic experiences as only part of a broader variety of the “gifts” in 1 Cor 12:4–11, the apostle completes their devaluation in the famous love passage in 1 Cor 13:1–2:46

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge (τὰ µυστήρια πάντα καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν), and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.47

According to Paul’s understanding here—in contradistinction to his earlier acutely apocalyptic stance—the present stage of the redemption scenario is going to be a prolonged one. Hence, the initial exaltation of the revelation of final prophecies was premature—in fact, we still lack the proper understanding of the last days (13:12): “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully.” This intermediary period calls on us to demonstrate the ultimate merits of religious perseverance—unflinching faith and hope in the future redemption, even if postponed. We are likewise called to continue loving God in spite of the predicaments of the prolonged pre-eschatological phase (13:3, 13): “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned,48 but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”49

Since these predicaments establish the link between the apostle’s addressees and Jesus’s own tragic fate—both seemingly ordained by God—Paul does not hesitate, similarly to the beginning of the epistle, to establish the priority of faith, hope and love over all possible sublime revealed knowledge.50 No explicit exegetical framework is suggested here, but the lacuna would be filled in in later rabbinic elaborations. The call to martyrdom as the ultimate expression of love of God (in addition to the call to be ready to forgo for God’s sake one’s possessions and to subjugate the heart’s sinful inclination to God’s will) will be presented there as the interpretation of Deut 6:4–5 (“Hear, O Israel [Shema] . . .”). Thus, tannaitic traditions attest to the perception of God as inflicting suffering and even death not as punishment but as a test of one’s ability to go on loving his Creator even in those terrible circumstances.51 Another tradition ascribes to r. Akiva the ability to continue loving God even when tortured and executed, and presents it as the ultimate fulfillment of the Torah’s foundational “Hear, O Israel” dictum.52 The text of 1 Cor 13 could have been an early attestation of such a line of thought.53

Whereas earlier Pauline epistles did relate to arguments raised by Jews—mostly within, but also outside the Jesus movement—and thus took into account a “hidden Jewish audience,”54 they were addressed to gentile members of that movement. In the Epistle to the Romans, that “final account” of Paul’s writing,55 however, both supposed components of the Jesus followers’ community in Rome are explicitly engaged.56 It is in this context that Paul elaborates on what presents itself as an obvious setback to the redemption scenario—the lack of response on the part of Israel to the messianic salvation offered through Jesus. The participation of (righteous) Gentiles in the final redemption in itself did not have to evoke the feelings of misfortune; it, in fact, fits perfectly a number of foundational biblical prophecies, as well as expectations current in Second Temple Judaism.57 Moreover, already in Galatians Paul safely grounds the expectation for eventual redemption of the Gentiles in the Torah itself (Gen 12:3, 7; 15:6).58 It may be hypothesized then that it was not the expansion of the scope of messianic salvation to the Gentiles as such that was perceived as problematic, but rather what might have been seen as a disruption of the prophetically ordained balance between the Jewish center and the non-Jewish margins of redemption.59 The author of Acts solved the problem by insisting on the Jesus movement’s great success among the Jews in Jerusalem and, in fact, in the whole Land of Israel (Acts 2:41, 46–47; 4:4; 21:20). Paul, however, had a different view and/or a different temperament and perceived the current situation as an apparent setback. It is for this setback that he set out to find a solution in Romans 9–11—seemingly, in an attempt to correct certain perceptions engendered among Jesus’s gentile followers by the apostle’s earlier criticism of Jewish ritual-centered particularity.60

Paul first builds his argument upon the biblical idea of the righteous remnant (Rom 11:4–5)—thus the temporary failure does not indicate God’s unfaithfulness to his promises, but rather Israel’s own unworthiness (Rom 9:30–33).61 The argument derived from the parable of the olive tree versus a wild olive shoot is further adduced (Rom 11:17–24). When Paul then famously addresses the current absence of the organizing Jewish center of the messianic enterprise, it is clear that at the background is the anticipation of such a center as instrumental to final redemption (Rom 11:25–27):

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery (τὸ µυστήριον τοῦτο), brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in,26 and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Isa 59:20); 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Jer 31:34).

Both the somewhat forced argument for the necessity of Israel’s “hardening” at this stage and the promise that in the final account “all Israel will be saved” seem tailored to solve the problem of the current postponement, which is fittingly called “this mystery.”62 In this context, the prophecy from Isaiah is understood as pointing not, as could be expected, to Jesus life’s mission but rather to a future event.63 This, characteristically, applies to the quote from the Jeremiah New Covenant passage (Jer 31:31–34) too. Here also a postponed alternative of the initial meaning is created: The inauguration of the New Covenant that was previously thought to have resulted from the “Jesus event” itself will, in fact, be fulfilled after a prolonged period of suspense.64

5 Conclusion

The discussion has underscored a shared pattern of branding as mystery the postponement of the consummation of the redemption scenario in two late Second Temple eschatologically minded groups. Each of them, in turn—with undeniable differences in the social situation—experienced the “distress of delay,” and had to cope with the prolonged, and traumatic, intermediary period. The responses might have differed, but in each case, the strategy was employed of presenting what could have seemed a fiasco as, in fact, befitting the new, updated, interpretation of both God’s redemptive plan and relevant biblical prophecies—with a delayed timetable. This new understanding, going against earlier expectations, is polemically portrayed as mystery (רז, µυστήριον).

Leaving aside the poignant—and still undecided—issue of the exact nature of the group(s) behind the scrolls, the comparison enables the highlighting of a shared pattern characteristic of late Second Temple responses to a crisis of unrealized eschatological expectation.65 Both in the Pesher Habakkuk and among Jesus’s followers this shared configuration is adjusted to the respective “sectarian” situation; the comparative study, however, helps the discernment of an underlying more general mode of reaction to the postponement of the anticipated redemption. It may thus be added to other significant patterns featuring both in the scrolls and in the texts coming from the Jesus movement—for example, the self-understanding as “congregation of God” or “people of the New Testament”—that were engendered by a partial similarity in circumstances rather than direct influence.66

1 D. Flusser, “The Stages of Redemption History according to John the Baptist and Jesus,” in Jesus (with R. S. Notley; Jerusalem: Magnes, 2001), 258–75. See also idem, “The Kingdom of Heaven,” in The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 2007), 76–96.

2 See E. E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs, 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975), 400–19, 482.

3 See G. J. Brooke, “Moving Mountains: From Sinai to Jerusalem,” in The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity, ed. G. J. Brooke, H. Najman and L. T. Stuckenbruck (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 73–89.

4 The English translation follows G. Macaskill, The Slavonic Texts of 2 Enoch (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

5 Cf. Jub. 2:2.

6 The English translation follows E. Isaac, “(Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch (Second Century B.C.–First Century A.D.),” in Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, vol. 1 of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (ed. J. H. Charlesworth; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1983), 5–89.

7 See discussion in D. J. Harrington, “Mystery,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. L. H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam; 2 vols.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1:590–91.

8 Reconstructed according to 4QSd 8:2–3. See also 1QS 4:5–6, where the “sons of truth (בני אמת)” are explicitly defined as ones who are privy “to the truth of mysteries of understanding (לאמת רזי דעת).”

9 References are according to E. Qimron, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew Writings, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, 2010–2014), see volume 1.

10 Unlike, for example, in 4Q416 2 iii 14, 18, 21: “Investigate the mystery of existence (רז נהיה), and consider all paths of truth. . . . Honor your father . . . and your mother. . . . And since he has opened your ears to the mystery of existence, honor them for your own glory . . . for the sake of your own life and the length of your days. . . . If you take a wife . . . take the offspring [. . .] from the mystery of existence. . . .”

11 Cf. Harrington, “Mystery,” 590.

12 Late first century bce-early first century ce; 1Q27/Mysteries, J. T. Milik, djd 1:102–7, pls. xxi–xxii; cf. 4Q299–300 and, possibly, 4Q301.

13 See E. W. Larson, “Mysteries,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1:587. See also L. H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994), 206–10.

14 This switch also distinguishes the genre of the composition from that of wisdom literature, with which it otherwise has common features. See Harrington, “Mystery,” 588.

15 Likewise, it is irrelevant whether some of the evidence discussed (e.g., 1QS 4 as part of the Treatise on the Two Spirits) might reflect a reused source.

16 M. Burrow, J. C. Trever and W. H. Brownlee, eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark Monastery, 2 vols. (New Haven: The American School of Oriental Research, 1950–1951), volume 1, plates lv–lxi.

17 For a discussion of the hermeneutical strategies employed in Qumranic Pesher, see B. Nitzan, Pesher Habakkuk: A Scroll from the Wilderness of Judaea (1QpHab) (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1986), 27 (in Hebrew).

18 See, for example, H. Eshel, “The Two Historical Layers of Pesher Habakkuk,” in Northern Lights on the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. A. K. Petersen et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 107–18. For a different suggestion, see S. Llewelyn et al., “A Case for Two Vorlagen Behind the Habakkuk Commentary (1QpHab),” in Keter Shem Tov: Essays on the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Memory of Alan Crown, ed. S. Tzoref and I. Young (Puscataway: Gorgias, 2013), 123–50. See also G. J. Brooke, “Physicality, Paratextuality and Pesher Habakkuk,” in On the Fringe of Commentary: Metatextuality in Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Mediterranean Cultures, ed. S. H. Aufrère, P. S. Alexander and Z. Pleše (Leuven: Peeters, 2014), 175–94.

19 In Eshel’s analysis, the solution was backed by a new identification of the Kasdim (Chaldeans) of Hab 1:6 and the Kittim, the end-of-history enemies of Israel from Num 24:24, with Romans instead of the Seleucids. See Eshel, “Two Historical Layers”; H. Eshel, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, 2008), 174–79, esp. 177. Eshel, however, does not explicitly present 1QpHab 7 as belonging to those mid-first-century bce updates.

20 J. Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism in the Qumran Movement (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 165.

21 Cf. Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism, 174.

22 For possible identity of the 1QpHab evil priest(s), see, for example, A. S. van der Woude, “Once Again: the Wicked Priests in the ‘Habakkuk Pesher’ from Cave 1 of Qumran,” RevQ 17/65–68 (1996): 375–84. For the identification of the Wicked Priest as Jonathan son of Mattathias, the high priest from 152–143 bce, see Eshel, “Two Historical Layers,” 113.

23 The English translation follows F. García Martínez and E. J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1999). Cf. discussion in W. H. Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1979), 53–58.

24 While 1QpHab 1:1–5:10 addresses Hab 1, the text from 1QpHab 6:12 until the end of the scroll interprets Hab 2. The figures of the Teacher of Righteousness, the Man of Lie and the Wicked Priest, as well as the motif of the punishment of the Gentiles on the Day of Judgment feature prominently throughout the Pesher.

25 See M. P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1979), 229, 244–47.

26 See Nitzan, Pesher Habakkuk, 27; Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk, 107–13.

27 But cf. Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk, 116. Cf. J. J. Collins, “Prophecy and Fulfillment in the Qumran Scrolls,” in idem, Seers, Sybils and Sages in Hellenistic Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 301–16 (307).

28 See Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism, 174–75.

29 Harrington, “Mystery,” 589.

30 This crisis of postponement may be reformulated as perception of the current stage as the initial phase of the “last end.” See Nitzan, Pesher Habakkuk, 25–26.

31 See, for example, 1 Cor 1:23; cf. Luke 24:19–21.

32 See 1 Cor 2:6–13.

33 See, for example, 2 Chr 36:15–16; cf. Isa 53 and New Testament references to the tradition of rejected and suffering prophets in Luke 13:31–35 and Synoptic parallels. For the development of the foundational motif of a suffering prophet, see D. Kopeliovich, “The Motif of Jeremiah’s Persecution by the People of Israel in the Biblical and Early Extra-Biblical Narrative, and Its Function in the Shaping of the Narrative in the Gospels” (PhD diss.; Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2012).

34 See Luke 24:18–21.

35 For a detailed discussion, see S. Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament: Early Christian Writings as a Witness to Jewish Biblical Exegesis (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 179–213.

36 See, for instance, W. G. Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. H. C. Kee (Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer, 1973), 257–60. See also, K. P. Donfried, “1 Thessalonians, Acts and the Early Paul,” in The Thessalonian Correspondence, ed. R. F. Collins (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990), 3–26; D. Burkett, An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 345.

37 See N. Perrin and D. C. Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction. Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History, 2d ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), 172.

38 See discussion in S. Ruzer, “Nascent Christianity between Sectarian and Broader Judaism: Lessons from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture, ed. A. Roitman, L. H. Schiffman and S. Tzoref (Leiden, Brill, 2010), 477–93. See also K. P. Donfried, “Paul and Judaism: 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 as a Test Case,” Int 38 (1984): 242–53; J. C. Hurd, “Paul Ahead of His Time: 1 Thess. 2:13–16,” in Paul and the Gospels, vol. 1 of Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity, ed. P. Richardson et al. (Montreal, qc: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986), 21–35, esp. 33–35; G. E. Okeke, “1 Thessalonians 2. 13–16: The Fate of the Unbelieving Jews,” nts 27 (1981): 127–36 (130–31).

39 Cf. a parallel polemical move in Galatians (3:6–9), where the Gentile addressees are presented as truly the sons of Abraham.

40 See Perrin and Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, 208.

41 See, for example, D. Flusser, “The Hubris of the Antichrist in a Fragment from Qumran,” in idem, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988), 207–13. Cf. J. J. Collins, “The Son of God Text from Qumran,” in From Jesus to John: Essays on New Testament Christology in Honour of Marinus de Jonge, ed. M. C. de Boer (Sheffield: jsot, 1993), 65–82; J. Fitzmyer, “4Q246: The ‘Son of God’ Document from Qumran,” Bib 74 (1993): 153–74; E. Puech, “Fragment d’une apocalypse en Araméen (4Q246=pseudo-Danb) et le ‘Royaume de Dieu’,” rb 99 (1992): 98–131; I. Knohl, The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Berkeley: University of California, 2000), 91–93.

42 See Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament, 104–6.

43 Perrin and Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, 176. Cf. J. A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 170.

44 1 Cor 2:1–7; 4:1.

45 1 Cor 1:19; 2:9. Paul returns to this theme in 2 Cor 12:1–10. For a possibility of an instructive Qumranic parallel to 1 Cor 2:6–10, see E. J. C. Tigchelaar, “ ‘Spiritual People,’ ‘Fleshly Spirit,’ and ‘Vision of Meditation’: Reflections on 4QInstruction and 1 Corinthians,” in Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament, ed. F. García Martínez (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 103–18 (117).

46 I thus side with those who see Cor 13 not as an interpolation, but as belonging to its immediate context within the epistle. See, e.g., B. E. Bowe, “The Rhetoric of Love in Corinth; From Paul to Clement of Rome,” in Common Life in the Early Church: Essays Honoring Graydon F. Snyder, ed. J. V. Hills and B. Gardner (Harrisburg: Trinity, 1998), 244–57 (249, 252); E. Cuvillier, “Entre théologie de la croix et éthique de l’excès: une lecture de 1 Co 13,” etr 75 (2000): 349–61 (351–53); C. Focant, “De l’art de digresser pour donner au sujet une profondeur radicale (1 Corinthiens 13),” in Les hymnes de Nouveau Testament et leurs functions, ed. D. Gerber and P. Keith (Paris: Serf, 2009), 99–118 (106–15). But cf. W. O. Walker, “Is First Corinthians 13 a Non-Pauline Interpolation,” cbq 60 (1998): 484–99. For discussion of the 1 Corinthians 13 literary structure, see N. W. Lund, “The Literary Structure of Paul’s Hymn to Love,” jbl 50 (1931): 266–76.

47 Fitzmyer (First Corinthians, 493) suggests that this “may allude to Paul’s discussion of wisdom and its relation to . . . the ‘heavenly secrets’ ” earlier in the epistle (2:7; 4:1). Cf. A. von Harnack, “The Apostle Paul’s Hymn of Love (1 Cor. xiii) and Its Religious-Historical Significance,” Exp. 8 (1912): 385–408 (392–94).

48 Cf. Rom 12:1.

49 Contrary to the interpretational emphasis suggested in Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 489–91. See also J. Lambrecht, “The Most Eminent Way: A Study of 1 Corinthians 13,” in Texts and Contexts: Biblical Texts in Their Textual and Situational Contexts (ed. T. Fornberg and D. Hellholm; Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 1995), 275–304 (295–300), where he argues forcefully that “faith, hope and love” should not be viewed as pertaining specifically to the current intermediary period. Cf. F. Genuyt, “1 Cor 13, 1–13: l’hymne à la charité,” Sémiotique et Bible 109 (2003): 27–42 (39–40), who suggests that while it is unclear if faith and hope will subsist also in the eschatology, love, the greatest of the three, definitely will.

50 For 1 Corinthians 13 as continuing the themes engaged in the beginning of the epistle, see also, Cuvillier, “Entre théologie de la croix et étique de l’excès,” 360–62; Focant, “De l’art de digresser,” 115–18.

51 m. Ber. 9.5; Sifre Deut. 32.

52 y. Ber. 9.5 [14b]. For applying this interpretation to the community of Israel as a whole, see Mekhilta R. Ishmael on Exod 15. See discussion in D. Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 105–9; Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament, 63–67.

53 See B. Gerhardsson, “1 Kor 13: zur Frage von Paulus’ rabbinischem Hintergrund,” in idem, The Shema in the New Testament: Deut 6:4–5 in Significant Passages (Lund: Novapress, 1996), 247–71 (252–59), who starts going in this direction. But cf. Harnack, “The Apostle Paul’s Hymn of Love,” 395–408, who argues that the love spoken of throughout the chapter is for one’s neighbor.

54 See S. Ruzer, “Paul’s Stance on the Torah Revisited: Gentile Addressees and the Jewish Setting,” in Paul’s Jewish Matrix, ed. T. G. Casey and J. Taylor (Rome: Gregorian & Biblical, 2011), 75–97 (83–84).

55 See K. Stendahl, Final Account: Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995).

56 Cf. Perrin and Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, 187.

57 See, for example, Isaiah 2 and Micah 4. For discussion of Second Temple tendencies, see P. Fredriksen, “Judaism, the Circumcision of Gentiles, and Apocalyptic Hope: Another Look at Galatians 1 and 2,” jts 42 (1991): 532–64.

58 See Gal 3:6–9, 15–16. With regard to the annulment of the Torah ritual identity markers, most prominently circumcision, for gentile fellow travelers, the decisive proof with Paul had also to come not from prophetic invectives but from the Torah itself. The apostle seems to have subscribed to the view that the “first things” contain core indications concerning the last ones – an idea to be widely attested in rabbinic midrash. See P. S. Alexander, “Pre-emptive Exegesis: Genesis Rabbah’s Reading of the Story of Creation,” jjs 43 (1992): 230–45 (241–242). See also J. Neusner, “The Theory of History of Genesis Rabbah,” in The Christian and Judaic Invention of History, ed. J. Neusner and A. J. Avery-Peck (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990), 209–30.

59 But cf. Deut 32:21.

60 What has been befittingly called (J. G. Gager, Reinventing Paul [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000], 77) an exercise in “damage control.”

61 See J. A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Yale Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 576–81.

62 But cf. Fitzmyer, Romans, 618–19; T. Holtz, “The Judgment on the Jews and the Salvation of All Israel: 1 Thess 2,15–16 and Rom 11,25–26,” in The Thessalonian Correspondence, 284–94 (290–91).

63 But cf. Holtz, “The Judgment on the Jews,” 291. Presenting the saying in Rom 11:25–26 as “the end of a long reflection on Israel’s fate in the light of the revelation of the gospel” (page 288), Holtz’s article insists on the lack of real development in Paul’s thought, attempting to harmonize 1 Thess 2:15–16 and Rom 11:25–26. See also S. Kim, “The ‘Mystery’ of Rom. 11.25–26 Once More,” nts 43 (1997): 412–29, who likewise rejects the idea of a change in Paul’s thinking derived from the actual missionary situation, arguing instead that the mystery of “Gentiles first” had been revealed to Paul already in his Damascus road experience.

64 One notes that the success of the mission among the Gentiles is likewise described as “this mystery” in Col 1:26–27.

65 On the Dead Sea Scrolls evidence possibly representing broader belief patterns, see, for example, F. García Martínez, “Beyond the Sectarian Divide: The ‘Voice of the Teacher’ as an Authority-Conferring Strategy in Some Qumran Texts,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Transmission of Traditions and Production of Texts (S. Metso, H. Najman and E. Schuller, eds.; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 227–44 (243).

66 See discussion in D. Flusser, “The Dead Sea Sect and Pre-Pauline Christianity,” in Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, 23–74.

  • 1

    D. Flusser, “The Stages of Redemption History according to John the Baptist and Jesus,” in Jesus (with R. S. Notley; Jerusalem: Magnes, 2001), 258–75. See also idem, “The Kingdom of Heaven,” in The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 2007), 76–96.

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  • 6

    The English translation follows E. Isaac, “(Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch (Second Century B.C.–First Century A.D.),” in Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, vol. 1 of The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha(ed. J. H. Charlesworth; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1983), 5–89.

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  • 7

    See discussion in D. J. Harrington, “Mystery,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. L. H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam; 2 vols.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1:590–91.

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  • 11

    Cf. Harrington, “Mystery,” 590.

  • 13

    See E. W. Larson, “Mysteries,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1:587. See also L. H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran(Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994), 206–10.

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  • 20

    J. Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism in the Qumran Movement (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 165.

  • 21

    Cf. Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism, 174.

  • 25

    See M. P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1979), 229, 244–47.

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  • 26

    See Nitzan, Pesher Habakkuk, 27; Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk, 107–13.

  • 27

    But cf. Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk, 116. Cf. J. J. Collins, “Prophecy and Fulfillment in the Qumran Scrolls,” in idem, Seers, Sybils and Sages in Hellenistic Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 301–16 (307).

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  • 28

    See Jokiranta, Social Identity and Sectarianism, 174–75.

  • 29

    Harrington, “Mystery,” 589.

  • 35

    For a detailed discussion, see S. Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament: Early Christian Writings as a Witness to Jewish Biblical Exegesis (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 179–213.

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  • 38

    See discussion in S. Ruzer, “Nascent Christianity between Sectarian and Broader Judaism: Lessons from the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture, ed. A. Roitman, L. H. Schiffman and S. Tzoref (Leiden, Brill, 2010), 477–93. See also K. P. Donfried, “Paul and Judaism: 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 as a Test Case,” Int 38 (1984): 242–53; J. C. Hurd, “Paul Ahead of His Time: 1 Thess. 2:13–16,” in Paul and the Gospels, vol. 1 of Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity, ed. P. Richardson et al. (Montreal, qc: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1986), 21–35, esp. 33–35; G. E. Okeke, “1 Thessalonians 2. 13–16: The Fate of the Unbelieving Jews,” nts 27 (1981): 127–36 (130–31).

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  • 40

    See Perrin and Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, 208.

  • 42

    See Ruzer, Mapping the New Testament, 104–6.

  • 54

    See S. Ruzer, “Paul’s Stance on the Torah Revisited: Gentile Addressees and the Jewish Setting,” in Paul’s Jewish Matrix, ed. T. G. Casey and J. Taylor (Rome: Gregorian & Biblical, 2011), 75–97 (83–84).

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  • 55

    See K. Stendahl, Final Account: Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995).

  • 56

    Cf. Perrin and Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, 187.

  • 61

    See J. A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Yale Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 576–81.

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  • 62

    But cf. Fitzmyer, Romans, 618–19; T. Holtz, “The Judgment on the Jews and the Salvation of All Israel: 1 Thess 2,15–16 and Rom 11,25–26,” in The Thessalonian Correspondence, 284–94 (290–91).

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  • 63

    But cf. Holtz, “The Judgment on the Jews,” 291. Presenting the saying in Rom 11:25–26 as “the end of a long reflection on Israel’s fate in the light of the revelation of the gospel” (page 288), Holtz’s article insists on the lack of real development in Paul’s thought, attempting to harmonize 1 Thess 2:15–16 and Rom 11:25–26. See also S. Kim, “The ‘Mystery’ of Rom. 11.25–26 Once More,” nts 43 (1997): 412–29, who likewise rejects the idea of a change in Paul’s thinking derived from the actual missionary situation, arguing instead that the mystery of “Gentiles first” had been revealed to Paul already in his Damascus road experience.

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  • 66

    See discussion in D. Flusser, “The Dead Sea Sect and Pre-Pauline Christianity,” in Judaism and the Origins of Christianity, 23–74.

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