Did the 2nd Gen Fathers get it wrong?


#1

I’ve been reading some of the books writen about the second temple finds at Qumran and it seems that there were a lot of similarities between the sect there and the early christians. Jesus was rabbinical in his teaching and moved away from the sectarianism that the Essenes had. John seemed to have been closer to them and it seems that his audience were these sect members. However, Jesus moved away from these people in theology and I’m wondering if the 2nd Generations Church fathers went back. A lot of Catholic ideas seem to come straight from the community at Qumran. Such as names of angels come from the book of Enoch. The code of discipline seem to catch early christians as well. The letter of Barnabas (I know later the church stated that this wasn’t quite right) carries on the the whole Light vs. Darkness motif that the Essenses believed as well. The early church fathers would have had access to so writings no longer extant. Such as Ireaneaus seem to hold similar beliefs that the book of Enoch espouses about creation. Did the Early Fathers diverge from the deposit on these matters?


#2

you don’t have to specifically go to Qumran for those things. The Light/Darkness motiff is right there in the Gospel of John (and similar are found in the letters). And 1Enoch is cited, for instance, in Jude 14.

These are just things that are in the air in first century Palestine.


#3

There has been alot of attempts to tie the Essenes and Early Christianity together and quite honestly the only thing that truly does is their common origin as being sects of Judaism.

The teachings are similar as many should be from having a common origin.

But there are many divergencies. The primary two are the concept of the messiah and end times. The essenes where looking for a kingdom of God that was truly physical. The messiah will be a great general that will save them from the oppression of the Romans and the Jews that lost their way. The kingdom of God was going to be a physical kingdom ruled by this messanic figure. This is obviously not what Christians believed back then.


#4

Sure, however, how much of their stuff was borrowed by christianity. I mean look at the style of Revelations or as mentioned prevously Jude? Essenes had been around for some time an people must have been familiar. I just wonder if some of their idioisms diluted Jesus message somewhat. And how much can be accept of their stuff as inspired?


#5

Why would you think that their ideas “diluted” Jesus’ message? The ideas you mention seem to me to be part of the worldview of the New Testament. It’s not that their “stuff” is “inspired,” but that their ideas may be latent in the NT and more explicitly mentioned elsewhere.

Edwin


#6

Well, for example the Catholics venerate angels mentioned in Enoch as well as those mentioned in the NT and Tobit. Protestants (not all for they are many and diverse) have similar apocolyptic views about the end of the world ect… some of these ideas can be traced back to early christian thinking which had 2major influences. Jewish ideology (Jesus does agree with following Torah similar to the Pharasees but not hypochritcally) including the Predominant Pharasee thought and Essene apocolyptic literature) and a Greek Philisophical Approach (As seen with Justin Martyr). My questions becomes either how Greek did we make christianity or how much influence did the Essense thought have on early christian thought. How much carried over? If it did how reliable are some consepts we’ve taken for granted. And here is my question a step further if “all scripture is the inspired word of God” then what are we talking about the LXX was what Paul and the earlest Christians used. But then we have these refrenses to Enoch and other non extant works? Many protestants will only go with the Hebrew accepted works and the Catholics and Orthodox go with for the most part the LXX. So what scriptures are we talking about are? And what authhority can be place on things like Enoch? Such as Angles ect… I may not be expressing my thoughts well or even clearly but as I read this literature I’m asking questions as they come to me.


#7

Keep in mind. I’m not a biblical scholar or theologian. I might be an armchair theologian though. I’m just asking questions that come to me to clarify my thoughts. I still believe in Jesus and all other things listed in the nicean creed. I’m just curious as to the “evolution” of christian thought. And my search kind of lead me here. And I have questions about it.


#8

with a few exceptions, i think don’t many consider the essenes to have had a big impact on early christianity per se. but, again, these are things that are in the air. apocalyptic clearly does have a major impact on christianity. and early christians are reading things like 1enoch…or the book of daniel. they go on to write things like the apocalypse of john and the shepherd of hermas. moreover christians and jews alike are going to take up and transform the inheritance of the greek culture within which they live. again, the found very strong encouragement within the gospel of john and its hymn to the Logos.


#9

Enoch is extant. Actually there are several “Enochs” but the one you are thinking of appears to be “1 Enoch,” which is extant in Ethiopic.

It’s not clear from a purely “sola scriptura” perspective that Enoch *is *non-canonical. The Epistle of Jude quotes it assuming its authenticity. If you accept Jude, why not accept Enoch? Tertullian did. The Ethiopian Church accepts it to this day.

Edwin


#10

1st and 2nd Enoch are not Essene books exclusively. They are apocraphal(spelling?) that has been known throughout modern history and have never been lost. 1st and 2nd Enoch were popular jewish books during the time of the Christ and were/are considered as inspired by some of the Christian Sects. Modern Ethopian church considers 2nd Enoch as Canon today.


#11

I said 1 Enoch. But I think you’re right. I get them confused. (To be honest, I looked it up in Wikipedia since I didn’t remember, and am well rewarded if I turn out to be wrong!).

Edwin


#12

Enoch is extant. Actually there are several “Enochs” but the one you are thinking of appears to be “1 Enoch,” which is extant in Ethiopic.

It’s not clear from a purely “sola scriptura” perspective that Enoch is non-canonical. The Epistle of Jude quotes it assuming its authenticity. If you accept Jude, why not accept Enoch? Tertullian did. The Ethiopian Church accepts it to this day.

Edwin

Actually, that is the root of my problem. The more I study scriptures and church history the less I am sola scriptura. The thing is the more I read the early church fathers it becomes clearly evident that they viewed other sources as inspired such as in the NT. However, I also find Jesus was also more rabbinical in his teaching any many (for the time period) points are missed out on or taken incorrectly in our modern view. I’m wondering if the 2nd Generation also missed out on Jesus meaning. The apostles clarified some points in the NT. However, right after the apostles I see a significant switch to greek idealogy. (actually even with some of the apostles.) Now taking greek thought with apocolyptic literature I wonder how much was conjecture. Good discussion all the way around by the way. I’m not as versed as many of you and take each remark to heart. Thanks. :slight_smile:


#13

Probably the proper term you are looking for is inspiring not Inspired.

These books are were surely inspirational to the Jews and Christians of that era and they can be today. I have read many of the other writings from that time and you do find many nuggets of inspiration from them for this is what the many people read back then.


#14

This is very interesting. Are you saying that

  1. Jesus was closer to rabbinic Judaism than later generations of Christians;
  2. These later generations seem more influenced *both *by Jewish apocalypticism and by Greek thought?

Where does Paul fit into this for you? How do the Gospels compare with each other? What about non-Pauline epistles? (As I mentioned, Jude quotes Enoch.) I’m not entirely clear which texts you are comparing to which, and exactly which ideas you see as possibly indicating a “misinterpretation” of Jesus. You mention the role of angels–but I see all sorts of references to angels in the NT.

It would make sense that both Paul and later Christian writers would be more “Greek” than Jesus and his earliest circle of followers. Your claim about apocalypticism is interesting, but I can’t see it. It seems to me that the Gospels are extremely apocalyptic. The more usual claim is that the apocalyptic element in Christianity diminished rapidly even in the Pastoral Epistles and still more in the post-biblical texts.

For someone who claims not to be “versed,” I think you’re wrestling with the evidence in a very thoughtful and provocative way. Keep it up!

Edwin


#15

I think not, but rather, the community of the Essenes is part of the ancestral line of our deposit of faith. Catholicism is primarily derived from Judaism:

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:21-22

God prepared a people and culture for thousands of years to cherish and transmit sacred tradition, so that this culture could bear the Messiah. All the first Christians were Jews, and Catholicism represents the fulfillment of the whole Jewish system of worship.

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-19

Therefore, one cannot properly understand Catholicism without understanding Judaism.


#16

Since all of the NT is inspired, any portion that contains Essenic ideas can also be considered inspired. Paul even included inspired passages from poets of the time. Inspiration is not exclusive to the NT.


#17
  1. Jesus was closer to rabbinic Judaism than later generations of Christians;

Yes.

  1. These later generations seem more influenced both by Jewish apocalypticism and by Greek thought?

Yes. Like I’ve said before I’m no seminarian so there are probably things I don’t know about. However, Jewish apocalyptic literature was probably very popular and interesting (We’re still interested n it today? Very catching) and since Christianity came from Judaism there would be familiarity with these writings. On the other hand if you were a recently converted Jew of the diaspora or a Greek convert you may attack the writings (Problem) from a Greek philisophical background. Gnosticism was a very early outgrowth for the church because of how they chose to approach scripture. Though we think them totally off base there may have been some precedent set for them already in their society and culture. I mean Philo was heavily influenced by Plato and used that method of exegeting scripture (I’m speculating here). So would they not have done the same with the aprocriphal literature already popular?

You mention the role of angels–but I see all sorts of references to angels in the NT.

I really don’t have an issue with the role of angles, just how we choose to name them and accept them as viable beings rather than a literary device as I would regard the book of Tobit or the book of Enoch and therefore would not believed such a speicific being existed. Let me put it this way. I believe in Gabriel and Michael… Have an issue with Rahpael and others. (from a sola scriptura point of view) Now if I understand correctly extra biblical ideas are equally inspired by God and therefore correct. ( I’m actually getting closer to this view) In which case this is a moot point.

Where does Paul fit into this for you? How do the Gospels compare with each other? What about non-Pauline epistles? (As I mentioned, Jude quotes Enoch.) I’m not entirely clear which texts you are comparing to which, and exactly which ideas you see as possibly indicating a “misinterpretation” of Jesus. You mention the role of angels–but I see all sorts of references to angels in the NT.

Not really sure. He’s deffinately Rabbinical. However, I’m not sure how greekly(?) he’s influenced. He certainly knows greek philosophy and was from Tarsis (Turkey right?). The synoptic gospels are similar and try a two fold method of teaching what we need to know and believe about Jesus. However, John writen later possibly by a greek seems more theologically motivated by the universal beliefs of the time. (conjecture here on my part as well.)

I can’t tell you what I’m comparing to rather than being general because I’m on my lunch break at work and don’t have the selected text I’m reviewing. Sorry.


#18

It’s important not to take extra-biblical sources too far. Enoch, for example, is apocryphal, and so we don’t use it (perhaps it is an edifying read, I’m not sure). So we as Catholics do not, as a rule, venerate angels whose only source of recognition is Enoch. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are known archangels, (Daniel, Luke, Tobit are their literary recognitions respectively).
Extra-biblical material such as the Magesterium and Sacred Tradition are not “inspired” in the same sense, but are equally authoritative.

We use the Septuagint because that’s what Jesus used. Protestants use what they think the Council of Jamnia taught because the deuterocanonical texts support uniquely Catholic doctrine. Try a search on these fora on this topic, if you’re not satisfied, start a new thread and I’m sure you’ll get dozens of people clamouring to respond :smiley:


#19

Regarding “the origins” of Christianity, I think that we just have to have faith that we are what God wants us to be. There are certainly parallels between Christianity and many other religions, but we as Catholics acknowledge that there is some truth is almost all religions, and sometimes it’s difficult to say that something in our faith did or did not come from a particular Jewish sect. Honestly, i’m not satisfied with my answer, so I’m sure it doesn’t answer your question, but I guess if we believe that our faith is guided by the Holy Spirit, it can’t go wrong. There, that’s what I wanted to say.
Keep asking! ><>


#20

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