AUTHORSHIP AND DATEAccording to Charles, the author was not only a priest but a Pharisee “of the straitest sect.” We have already seen that many of the positions advocated in the Book are essentially un-Pharisaic in character.
Such a fundamentally Pharisaic doctrine as the resurrection of the body, is not accepted, and it is more than doubtful whether the author looked for the advent of a Davidic Messiah. Moreover, it is difficult to conceive any Pharisee at any time advocating the adoption of a solar calendar. Then, again, though there were, of course, Pharisaic priests in later times, when the influence of Pharisaism had become all-powerful, it would certainly be remarkable to find in the second century B.C. so priestly a writer as our author a member of the Pharisaic party. For that party arose from the ranks of the people.
It was essentially a lay movement, and it championed popular religious, as opposed to priestly, tradition. All this has been instinctively felt by the Jewish scholars1)fn26 With the distinguished exception of Dr. K. Kohler (in JE, s.v. Jubilees), who accepts Charles’s view, though he suggests that the book may reflect early Hasidæan practice. who have discussed the problems connected with the authorship and general character of our Book. By these scholars our Book has been variously ascribed to Essene (Jellinek, 1855), Samaritan (Beer, 1856-7), Hellenist (Frankel, 1856), and Jewish-Christian (Singer, 1898) authorship.
None of these views is entirely satisfactory. None can be said for the view that the author belonged to the party–if party it can be called–of the Hasidim (“Assideans” or “Hasideans”) who are referred to in I Maccabees.2)fn27 Cf. 1 Macc. vii. p. xxx These “pious” members of the Jewish community were devoted adherents of the Law, and banded themselves together to resist the Hellenizers even unto death. They must not be confounded with the Pharisees, who may, however, have been influenced by them. There is nothing to show that the earlier Hasidim accepted popular religious tradition which had no basis in the written Law.
Indeed, the reverse is probable. We know that, in spite of their anti-Hellenism, they scrupled to oppose the legitimate High Priest, even when he was on the Greek side. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether they would have countenanced the claim that the priests should exercise civil rule, while, as we have seen, the author of Jubilees distinctly takes up this position, and appears to have been an admirer of the Maccabean Priest-Princes–at any rate, of John Hyrcanus3)fn28 It is true that John Hyrcanus favoured the Pharisees, according to Josephus (Ant., xiii. 10, 5), who even speaks of him as their “disciple.” But this probably means no more than that he adopted a conciliatory attitude towards them. He also had intimate friends among the Sadducees (Josephus, Ant., xiii. 10, 6). and Simon Maccabæus.
Still there is a certain affinity between our author and the Hasidim, and if he was not actually a “Hasid,” he may very well have been in sympathy with members of that party in fundamental religious positions. Recently Leszyrisky,4)fn29 Die Sadduzäer (1912), pp. 179-236. has maintained the thesis that Jubilees was written by a Sadducean author, and, it must be admitted, makes out a strong case. Unfortunately, scholars are not yet agreed as to the real character and position of the Sadducean party, but of recent years there has been a growing consensus of opinion that the party had a real religious basis.
It was not, as it is sometimes represented to have been, a mere political party of worldly opportunists who used religious questions as a stick to beat the Pharisees, who represented true religion, while the real interests p. xxxi of their opponents were to safeguard their privileged position and wealth. If such books as Sirach are really, in any sense, Sadducean, and if we weigh the evidence of Josephus impartially, we may conclude that the real Sadducees represented the conservative tradition of the old scribal schools which grew up under priestly influence.
The Sadducees stood for the written Law of Moses against the oral tradition, derived from popular religious elements, represented by the Pharisees. What could not be proved from the Law they refused to accept. Their essential objection to the new doctrine of the resurrection of the body was that it could not be proved from the Law. They stood for priestly privilege against the democratic tendencies of the Pharisees, who wished to bring in the laity as much as possible.
It was natural that this party should be strong among the priests, and especially among families connected with the High Priesthood. The best members of it were, no doubt, pious devotees of the Law. This is not to say that worldly-minded members of the party did not exist. No doubt there were such, and some such men may have found it convenient to attach themselves to the Sadducean party.
There were also worldly and hypocritical adherents in the ranks of the Pharisees. But in neither case is it just to estimate the essential character of the party from such elements. The persistence of the Sadducean party for so long a time within Judaism suggests that it possessed elements of real vitality and vigour. No doubt, also, it was divided into sections–one such is known to us as the sect of the Bœthusians.
In view of its long continuance as an active party, and its significance in the history of Judaism, it must have stood for something more than mere negations. While it rejected the resurrection doctrine, the hope of a Davidic Messiah, and the Pharisaic oral tradition, it upheld the sole binding force of the written Torah, and emphasized priestly privilege.
Judged by these criteria, our author may well have p. xxxii been a pious Sadducean priest. It is not necessary, of course, to suppose that all the positions upheld in our Book were commonly accepted by the Sadducean party. Our author had views of his own, particularly regarding the calendar–which at the time when he wrote seems to have been a burning subject of debate–which would not necessarily have commended themselves to the party generally. It is to be noted that the positions he upholds on other matters often agree with those of the Samaritans and Falashas and Ḳaraite Jews, who are well-known to represent old Sadducean views on various points.
On one point of detail the Ethiopic text of our Book does uphold a specifically Pharisaic view. In xvi. 18, Israel is spoken of as destined to become a kingdom and Priests and a holy nation. This is an echo of Exod. xix. 6, but there the Hebrew text has a kingdom of priests (“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation”). Now the alteration yielded by the text of our Book here reflects the Pharisaic exegesis of this passage; the same alteration appears also in Rev. v. 10 (cf. i. 6).
The Pharisees were anxious to separate the kingdom from the priesthood, and expounded Exod. xix. 6 in this way, as the Jewish Targums attest. But the original text of our Book can hardly have been under any such influence. Such an exegesis would contradict the express claims made for the priesthood elsewhere in the Book. The Latin version, which has “a kingdom of priests” (as in the original Hebrew text in Exod. xix. 6), is no doubt right. Probably the Ethiopic scribe was influenced by the form of the text in Rev. v. 10, and introduced it here.
We may sum up by saying that the author was undoubtedly a pious priest, a devoted adherent of the Law, and an upholder of priestly tradition; he was certainly not a Pharisee, but has affinities with the Hasidim or “pious” of early Maccabean times; not improbably he was a Sadducean priest.
The exact date of the composition of Jubilees cannot be p. xxxiii fixed with absolute certainty, but no doubt, as Charles has argued, it falls some time within the reigns of Simon Maccabæus or John Hyrcanus, the flourishing period of the Hasmonean rule. This, at any rate, may be inferred from the historical sketch embodied in the apocalyptic passage, xxiii. 12-31, and is reinforced by a number of other considerations. The date to which the various phenomena point is some time in the last half of the second century B.C.
Original Source: sacred-texts.com
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||fn26 With the distinguished exception of Dr. K. Kohler (in JE, s.v. Jubilees), who accepts Charles’s view, though he suggests that the book may reflect early Hasidæan practice.|
|2.||↑||fn27 Cf. 1 Macc. vii.|
|3.||↑||fn28 It is true that John Hyrcanus favoured the Pharisees, according to Josephus (Ant., xiii. 10, 5), who even speaks of him as their “disciple.” But this probably means no more than that he adopted a conciliatory attitude towards them. He also had intimate friends among the Sadducees (Josephus, Ant., xiii. 10, 6).|
|4.||↑||fn29 Die Sadduzäer (1912), pp. 179-236.|