Monday, 15 August 2011

Man of a Lie

Fragment of the 1QpHab

In the prophetic texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is still quite a bit of contention about who is the “Teacher of Righteousness” and who the “Man of the Lie”. There is still an effort to place these texts back in the time of the Maccabees in an effort to disprove the obvious similarity of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the New Testament. Such an effort has been slowly losing ground and it is becoming accepted that many of the Dead Sea Scrolls where composed during the time of Jesus. The Habakkuk pesher is one of these that stands out.

The pesher is in two parts in the DSS, first is the quote from the Old Testament then the interpretation or pesher of its meaning in the present situation:

Why do you stare, traitors, and remain silent when the wicked one swallows up one more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13)

Its pesher refers to the House of Absalom and the members of its council who kept silent at the time of the chastisement of the Teacher of Righteousness and did not help him against the Man of a Lie who flouted the Law in the midst of their whole congregation.

Next I will show how this refers to mysterious event in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke called the Transfiguration with the most complete description being in Mark. I will quote the passages from Mark and then interpret them according to the “Pesher of Christ”.
9:2 And after six days doth Jesus take Peter, and James, and John, and bringeth them up to a high mount by themselves, alone, and he was transfigured before them,
9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can whiten them.
9:4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
9:7 A cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.'
9:8 Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only.
9:5 And Peter answereth and saith to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
9:6 For he didn't know what to say, for they were very afraid.
9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
9:10 They kept the saying, questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean.
9:11 And they (Peter, James & John) asked him, saying: Why then do the Pharisees and scribes say that Elias must come first?
9:12 And he answering said to them, 'Elijah indeed, having come first, doth restore all things; and how hath it been written concerning the Son of Man, that many things he may suffer, and be set at nought?

The Pesher of Christ shows three men in authority standing before the congregation on a platform (mountain) on the Day of Atonement: Jesus dressed in the robe of the High Priest (raiment white as snow), Jonathan Annas (Elijah) (levite) and Theudas Barabbas (Moses) (prophet). (See the previous blogs on the identities of the disciples.)

Pope Simon Magus (the cloud) arrives and chastises Jesus for assuming to be the High Priest. The congregation realizes that it is just Jesus and are furious.

Peter questions the actions of Jesus because he knows he is out of line because the persons who can take the three positions have been defined in the law. (These lines are misplaced, since Peter would not have interrupted the ceremony. Also by moving Peter’s question up in the paragraph he is made to appear to have more authority, though he would not have been part of the ceremony being neither priest nor prophet.)

Jesus, knowing that he did a bad thing, asks the disciples not to broadcast it. Then adds that there will come a day when he can be High Priest, using the metaphor of him rising from the dead, but it is more like the expression, “Till hell freezes over!” The disciples now have a great line to quote for his resurrection!

The disciples question why the congregation is shouting that Jonathan Annas (Elijah) should come first. Jesus sheepishly, with a ready pun, says that Elijah (meaning John the Baptist) did come first and that this is just another case where He, the Son of Man is being persecuted. In actuality Jonathan is his superior because the rules say that only a priest can be the High Priest.

Notice how well this fits the DSS Habakkuk pesher and how easily the Pesher of Christ describes the Transfiguration in it own pesher: The Pesher of Christ!