Reflections for 11/4: Groups Towards the Emergence of Christianity

Often times we initially think of Jews as homogenous and able to act with one voice like they did when Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd, for example.  However, the diversity of groups and the differences among them undermines this assumption.

We also think that the Jews were caught up in strict literalism and Jesus challenged this.  It would seem that this is also not the case, because there are groups who seem to take a certain amount of interpretative freedom in relating the scripture (like seeking smooth things or pesher interpretation).

We also perceive of the Jews as being directly controlled by the Sanhedrin and other priestly authorities.  However, these reading reveal that there were many separatist groups and the will of the masses was not always behind these authorities.

Furthermore, we assume that Judaism was united in expecting a single Messiah to come (and some Christians may take the attitude that they missed their chance with Jesus).  However, the Qumran community and Essene sect thought that there would be two Messiahs.

I would be interested to know more about whether and how the Qumran community might have reacted to the Christian movement since the reactions of the other groups are somewhat documented in the New Testament.  I am also aware that there was some violent resistance to the Romans but I never had a strong grasp on which groups participated in this or were against it and how their theologies reflected these matters.


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