Week 6: Jewish Apocalypticism
1. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium, pp 105-123. (link)
This selection includes a quick summary of the history of Judea, descriptions of the four minority sects mentioned by Josephus, examples of Jewish reaction to the rule of Rome and, most important, an overview of Jewish apocalypticism.
2. JSB, Daniel 7 (and annotations).
Chronologically the last book of the Hebrew Bible, Daniel was written in 164 BCE. This vision of Daniel was very important to Jewish apocalypticists and is worth a close reading. Note that there is no conflict (final battle), just judgment. The “little horn” is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Selucid king with control over Judea. The author probably identifies the “one like a son of man” (JSB: “one like a human being”) with the angel Michael conceived as the guardian of Israel.
3. JSB, Daniel 11:40 to 12:3 (and annotations).
In this separate vision, we see the technique of prediction after the fact: up until verse 40, the predictions are accurate but not thereafter; thus we can reliably date the book.
But the author’s intention is to relate the final climactic battle “at the time of the end.” The angel Michael is named, and a reference is made to the book of life.
4. The War Scroll, (link)
The War Scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 near Qumran an outpost where a disaffected community of Jews lived who considered the Temple in Jerusalem to have been profaned by the appointment of ineligible high priests.
5. 4 Ezra [Second Esdras], ch 13 (link)
An example of a later Jewish apocalypse written in the 90s CE.
6. (optional) The Revelation to John, ch. 4-6, 10, 14, 19-21:8.
This last book of the New Testament continues to stir the imaginations of Christians and demonstrates the emotional power of cosmic dualism. These are the most salient parts with many familiar images.