Monday, January 16, 2012

Qumran Exclusivism

In this post, I will draw from two essays in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism: Markus Bockmuehl's "1QS and Salvation at Qumran", and Roland Deines' "The Pharisees Between 'Judaisms' and 'Common Judaism'".

I will be making some broad, brush-stroak remarks, without getting into specifics or the primary sources that Bockmuehl and Deines cite. If you are interested in these things, you can probably get the book from your library through Inter-library loan. The issue that I will comment on is salvation within the Qumran community.

According to Bockmuehl, the Qumran community believed that only those inside of it would be saved from God's wrath, and there is a difference of opinion within Qumran documents about whether or not outsiders would repent in time to be saved. There is a liberal view that outsiders may see the truth of Qumran's views and rally behind it, but there is also a view that the vast majority of outsiders have refused to seek and to know God's will, and so they will be punished. Deines refers to a Qumran sentiment that the simple folk outside of their community were deluded by Ephraim, which perhaps refers to the Pharisees, and Deines states that Qumran thinkers believed that Qumran's influence was not as great as that of "Ephraim". According to Deines, the statement in certain Qumran documents about human beings having no righteousness means that humans have no righteousness of their own, for their righteousness comes from being a part of God's community. But does that mean that members could sin boldly and find assurance of their salvation in their membership in God's community? I don't think so, for Bockmuehl states that the Qumran community was clear that, although purificatory rites existed for atonement, these rites did not atone if the person was not repentant.

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