Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism

Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism

Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism

Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism

Synopsis

Respected scholar Gabriele Boccaccini here offers readers a new and challenging view of the ideology of the Qumran sect, the community closely related with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Boccaccini moves beyond the Essene hypothesis and posits a unique relationship between what he terms "Enochic Judaism" and the group traditionally known as the Essenes. Building his case on what the ancient records tell us about the Essenes and on a systematic analysis of the documents found at Qumran, Boccaccini argues that the literature betrays the core of an ancient and distinct variety of Second Temple Judaism. Tracing the development of this tradition, Boccaccini shows that the Essene community at Qumran was really the offspring of the Enochic party, which in turn contributed to the birth of parties led by John the Baptist and Jesus. Convincingly argued, this work will surely spark fresh debate in the discussion on the Qumran community and their famous writings.

Excerpt

I have always been fascinated by the study of second temple Judaism.

I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t.

If you grow up in Florence, Italy, from the moment you are born you live totally immersed in the past.

My people speak of our Etruscan, Roman, and Renaissance ancestors as if they were good friends who just passed away. Their belongings are still around to remind us of their existence, and we take care of everything they left, as we do with our own belongings.

When I was barely old enough to read the Scriptures, my parish priest gravely warned me that the only way to understand Jesus’ words was to study them critically in their own historical and cultural context. At that time I could not possibly understand what he meant. In my own confused way, however, I realized that this had something to do with my grandpa telling me anedoctes about the great Florentines buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce, or my mother reading books for hours when she was studying for her Ph.D. in philosophy. My mother’s books, full of strange phrases whose meaning I could not yet understand, intrigued me not less than the mysterious Latin inscriptions on the funeral monuments of Santa Croce. Although I was still a child, history and philosophy had already enticed me with their magic spell.

It was more than intellectual curiosity.

In my family, stories were told about my grandfather’s and father’s involvements in the Italian anti-Nazi underground during World War II.

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