03.04.15 200 B.C. Non-Rabbinic Writings Begin: Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls
In response to the Hellenistic influences, concerned Jews as well as some leaders responded with various forms of legalism. It appears that every religious sect had one or more individuals who either wrote of actual events or of expected apocalyptic events, and the latter far exceeded the former.
One of those religious sects was the Essenes (02.01.06), who copied many ancient books for more than two centuries that eventually became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls (02.02.06). Many of these manuscripts were deposited in clay jars that were hidden in caves at the time of the destruction of the second temple (A.D. 70), but were later discovered between 1948 and 1956. These writings provide modern scholars insight into life in the time of Jesus.
In addition to the Essene writings, another genre appeared that would eventually become known as the Apocrypha (02.02.03) and Pseudepigrapha (02.02.24). Some of these books tend to be of an apocalyptic nature: some future judgmental event is described to deliver Israel from her enemies. Other writings reflect the encroachment of Hellenistic thinking into Judaism, and the first “liberal” writers restructure basic elements of the Torah and other Hebrew writings. Not all were accepted by the Jews, but everyone knew of them.
Finally, ancient writers gave various opinions of what the messiah would be like – from defeating foreign dominating powers to exorcisms. Within The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, are three books that have unique verses to a future king who would defeat Satan and his demons. Therefore, when Jesus came and freed people from demonic control, His performance was what some expected. On the other hand, chapter 17 of the Psalms of Solomon, written between 40 and 30 B.C., clearly expresses the idea of overthrowing a foreign dominating power which was obviously Rome. Therefore, when Jesus made no mention of any political aspirations, His performance was not what some expected. Yet Psalms of Solomon 17 also presents a comprehensive picture of the ideal messiah who is from the line of David – an image that was well established in the minds of the Jewish people in the time of Jesus only a few decades later.
. See “Apocalyptic Literature” in Appendix 26.
. See 11.02.09 for more information.