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A response to Frank McCoy

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  • Raimo Hakola
    Dear Frank, Thanks for continuing our discussion. Here is my latest reaction: Frank wrote, However, in CD (aka The Damascus Document), XI, it is said, No man
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 8, 2001
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      Dear Frank,
      Thanks for continuing our discussion. Here is my latest reaction:

      Frank wrote,
      "However, in CD (aka The Damascus Document), XI, it is said, "No man shall
      take anything out of the house or bring anything in (on the Sabbath). And
      if he is in a booth, let him neither take anything out nor bring anything
      in (on the Sabbath)." Here, it is assumed, there are two domains--what is
      inside your residence and what is outside your residence. Consequently,
      you can carry/take things from one place to another on the Sabbath as long
      as you don't go in or out of your residence. ... Indeed, by Philo's
      standards, Jesus has told the man to violate the Sabbath commandment.
      However, by Essene standards, what Jesus told the man involves no work
      unless he takes the pallet into his residence."

      I do not think that your interpretation of the sabbath commandment in the
      Qumran community is right. I doubt whether there is a real difference
      between Philo and the Qumran community in the interpretation of this
      commandment. The view that one must not carry anything out of the house or
      bring anything in the house on the sabbath was not a characteristic of the
      Qumran community only. This prohibition appears already in Jer 17:19-27. In
      addition to CD and Philo, it also appears in the book of Jubilees (2:30;
      50:8) and in the Mishnah (m. Shabb. 7:3-9:7). The significance of this
      prohibition is evident also in the rabbinic practice of fusion of houses
      which made the observance of unpractical sabbath regulations easier. This
      practise, reflected in the Mishnah tractate Erubin, allowed all the houses
      in the alley or court to become one house, and so it became possible to
      carry things from one part of the fused house to another without violating
      the law expressed in Jer 17:19-27. This practice was developed probably
      already by the Pharisees, whereas the Sadducees did not agree with it (cf.
      m. Erub. 6:2). The Sadducees seem to have been stricter than the Pharisees
      in this question. Both groups shared in common, however, the view that one
      must not move an object from one domain to another on the sabbath. Even
      though different groups interpreted this prohibition in slightly different
      ways, they all agreed on this basic point based on Jer 17:19-27. In light
      of this, I think that every Jew would have thought that anyone who carries
      an object in public on the sabbath violates the sabbath. This is a clear
      case of breaking the sabbath, and so is what Jesus does in John 9 as he
      heals the blind man (v. 6). So I think that we cannot avoid the conclusion
      that Jesus deliberately breaks the sabbath in John.

      Frank also wrote:
      " I take the lack of agonizing or disuptation over the Law in John, with
      the one exception of how to interpret the Sabbath commandment, to reflect
      an underlying reality in which both the members of the Johannine community
      and "the Jews" are obedient to the Law and, outside of the Sabbath
      commandment, are in agreement on how to interpret it. Further, there are no
      Gentile Christians in the Johannine community to complicate matters. Hence,
      I see both the members of the Johannine community and "the Jews" as being
      ethnic Jews living in a Jewish town or city--most likely, I think, in
      Jerusalem."

      How do we know that there were no Gentile Christians in the Johannine
      community? I think that the way the narrator introduces different Jewish
      festivals (2:13; 6:4 etc), explains some Jewish beliefs and rituals (2:6;
      4:9; 18:28) and translates some common Hebrew and Aramaic terms (1:38, 41;
      19:13, 17) shows that at least some of his readers were not very
      well-versed in the religion of the Jews. This indicates that there probably
      were Gentiles (how many, we do not know) in the Johannine community.

      Regards
      Raimo

      Raimo Hakola

      Department of Biblical Studies
      P.O. Box 33
      00014 University of Helsinki

      tel. +358 9 191 22518
      fax +358 9 191 22106
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