Another method of using Scripture can be seen in first century historical writings, particularly Josephus, but it had already been employed in the Old Testament itself. It consists of using biblical terms to describe events in order to illuminate their meaning. Thus, the return from the Babylonian Exile is described in terms that evoke the liberation from Egyptian oppression at the time of the Exodus Is The final restoration of Zion is represented as a new Eden.
Exegesis at Qumran and in the New Testament.
With regard to form and method, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, presents striking resemblances to Qumran in its use of Scripture. The similarity in scriptural usage derives from an outlook common to both the Qumran community and that of the New Testament. Both were eschatological communities that saw biblical prophecies being fulfilled in their own time, in a manner surpassing the expectation and understanding of the Prophets who had originally spoken them. Exactly as in the Dead Sea Scrolls, certain biblical texts are used in the New Testament in their literal and historical sense, while others are applied in a more or less forced manner, to the contemporary situation.
Scripture was understood as containing the very words of God. Some interpretations, in both texts, take a word and separate it from its context and original meaning to give it a significance that does not correspond to the principles of modern exegesis. An important difference, however, should be noted.
In the Qumran texts, the point of departure is Scripture. Certain texts — for example the pesher of Habakkuk — are an extended commentary on a biblical text, which is then applied, verse by verse, to a contemporary situation; others are collections of texts dealing with the same theme, for example, 11 Q Melchisedeq on the messianic era. In the New Testament, in contrast, the point of departure is the Christ event.
It does not apply Scripture to the present, but explains and comments on the Christ event in the light of Scripture. The only points in common are the techniques employed, often with a striking similarity, as in Rm and in the Letter to the Hebrews. Rabbinic Methods in the New Testament. Traditional Jewish methods of scriptural argumentation for the purpose of establishing rules of conduct — methods later codified by the rabbis — are frequently used in the words of Jesus transmitted in the Gospels and in the Epistles.
A particular trait is that the argument often revolves around the meaning of a single word. This meaning is established by its occurence in a certain context and is then applied, often in a very artificial manner, to another context. This technique has a strong resemblance to rabbinic midrash, with one characteristic difference: in the rabbinic midrash, there is a citation of differing opinions from various authorities in such a way that it becomes a technique of argumentation, while in the New Testament the authority of Jesus is decisive.
Paul in particular frequently uses these techniques especially in discussions with well-informed Jewish adversaries, whether Christian or not. Oftentimes he uses them to counter traditional positions in Judaism or to support important points in his own teaching. Rabbinic argumentation is also found in the Letters to the Ephesians and Hebrews.
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It uses figures and examples in a verbal chain structure in conformity with Jewish scriptural exegesis. An particular form of Jewish exegesis found in the New Testament is the homily delivered in the synagogue. According to Jn , the Bread of Life discourse was delivered by Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. Its form closely corresponds to synagogal homilies of the first century: an explanation of a Pentateuchal text supported by a prophetic text; each part of the text is explained; slight adjustments to the form of words are made to give a new interpretation.
Traces of this model can perhaps also be found in the missionary discourses in the Acts of the Apostles, especially in Paul's homily in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch Ac The New Testament frequently uses allusions to biblical events as a means of bringing out the meaning of the events of Jesus' life.
The narratives of Jesus' infancy in the Gospel of Matthew do not disclose their full meaning unless read against the background of biblical and post-biblical narratives concerning Moses. The infancy gospel of Luke is more in the style of biblical allusions found in the first century Psalms of Solomon or in the Qumran Hymns; the Canticles of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon can be compared to Qumran hymns.
The reaction of listeners to Jesus' parables for example, the parable of the murderous tenants, Mt and par.
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Among the Gospels, Matthew shows greatest familiarity with the Jewish techniques in utilising Scripture. After the manner of the Qumran pesharim , he often quotes Scripture; he makes wide use of juridical and symbolic argumentation similar to those which were common in later rabbinic writings. More than the other Gospels, he uses midrashic stories in his narratives the infancy gospel, the episode of Judas' death, the intervention of Pilate's wife.
The rabbinic style of argumentation frequently used, especially in the Pauline Letters and in the Letter to the Hebrews, undoubtedly attests that the New Testament emerged from the matrix of Judaism and that it is infused with the mentality of Jewish biblical commentators. We are only concerned here with the formation of the canon of the Old Testament. The number 24 was often reduced to 22, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The numerical difference is explained by the fact that the Jews regarded as one book several writings that are distinct in the Christian canon, the writings of the Twelve Prophets, for example.
Recent research and discoveries, however, have cast doubt on this opinion. It now seems more probable that at the time of Christianity's birth, closed collections of the Law and the Prophets existed in a textual form substantially identical with the Old Testament. Towards the end of the first century A. Many of the books belonging to the third group of religious texts, not yet fixed, were regularly read in Jewish communities during the first century A.
They were translated into Greek and circulated among Hellenistic Jews, both in Palestine and in the diaspora. Ac , their views on Scripture would have reflected those of their environment, but we are poorly informed on the subject. Nevertheless, the writings of the New Testament suggest that a sacred literature wider than the Hebrew canon circulated in Christian communities.
HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
Generally, the authors of the New Testament manifest a knowledge of the deuterocanonical books and other non-canonical ones since the number of books cited in the New Testament exceeds not only the Hebrew canon, but also the so-called Alexandrian canon. What the Church seems to have received was a body of Sacred Scripture which, within Judaism, was in the process of becoming canonical.
When Judaism came to close its own canon, the Christian Church was sufficiently independent from Judaism not to be immediately affected. It was only at a later period that a closed Hebrew canon began to exert influence on how Christians viewed it. The Old Testament of the early Church took different shapes in different regions as the diverse lists from Patristic times show.
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The majority of Christian writings from the second century, as well as manuscripts of the Bible from the fourth century onwards, made use of or contain a great number of Jewish sacred books, including those which were not admitted into the Hebrew canon. It was only after the Jews had defined their canon that the Church thought of closing its own Old Testament canon. But we are lacking information on the procedure adopted and the reasons given for the inclusion of this or that book in the canon.
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It is possible, nevertheless, to trace in a general way the evolution of the canon in the Church, both in the East and in the West. In the East from Origen's time c. Origen himself knew of the existence of numerous textual differences, which were often considerable, between the Hebrew and the Greek Bible. To this was added the problem of different listings of books.
The attempt to conform to the Hebrew text of the Hebrew canon did not prevent Christian authors in the East from utilising in their writings books that were never admitted into the Hebrew canon, or from following the Septuagint text. The notion that the Hebrew canon should be preferred by Christians does not seem to have produced in the Eastern Church either a profound or long-lasting impression.
In the West , the use of a larger collection of sacred books was common and was defended by Augustine. When it came to selecting books to be included in the canon, Augustine based his judgement on the constant practice of the Church. At the beginning of the fifth century, councils adopted his position in drawing up the Old Testament canon. Although these councils were regional, the unanimity expressed in their lists represents Church usage in the West.
As regards the textual differences between the Greek and the Hebrew Bible, Jerome based his translation on the Hebrew text. For the deuterocanonical books, he was generally content to correct the Old Latin translation.
From this time on, the Church in the West recognised a twofold biblical tradition: that of the Hebrew text for books of the Hebrew canon, and that of the Greek Bible for the other books, all in a Latin translation. Based on a time-honoured tradition, the Councils of Florence in and Trent in resolved for Catholics any doubts and uncertainties. Their list comprises 73 books, which were accepted as sacred and canonical because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, 46 for the Old Testament, 27 for the New. To determine this canon, it based itself on the Church's constant usage.
In adopting this canon, which is larger than the Hebrew, it has preserved an authentic memory of Christian origins, since, as we have seen, the more restricted Hebrew canon is later than the formation of the New Testament.
A study of these relationships is indispensable for anyone who wishes to have a proper appreciation of the links between the Christian Church and the Jewish people. The understanding of these relationships has changed over time. The present chapter offers firstly an overview of these changes, followed by a more detailed study of the basic themes common to both Testaments. Affirmation of a reciprocal relationship. Their first relationship is precisely that. At the beginning of the second century, when Marcion wished to discard the Old Testament, he met with vehement resistance from the post-apostolic Church.
Moreover, his rejection of the Old Testament led him to disregard a major portion of the New — he retained only the Gospel of Luke and some Pauline Letters — which clearly showed that his position was indefensible. It is in the light of the Old Testament that the New understands the life, death and glorification of Jesus cf.