The Poor‎ > ‎

The Way

In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3)
 
The Teacher of Righteousness (in Hebrew: מורה הצדק Moreh ha-Tzedek) is a figure found in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, most prominently in the Damascus Document. This document speaks briefly of the origins of the sect, probably Essenes, 390 years after the Babylonian exile and after 20 years of 'groping' blindly for the way. "God... raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of His heart".

Having seen how The Poor - of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls - have been parodied by the textual tradition, including and especially in the New Testament (the original of which is pre-Christian), another term used by these Observant Jews to describe their approach of their faith is The Way and that, too and of course, has also been parodied.
The parody bis not obvious to all:
In the Scrolls, the sectarians of the ‘New Testament’ usually refer to themselves as ‘The Way’, ‘The Poor’, and the ‘Church of God’.
The first of these terms, the ‘Way’ is exactly as that used in Acts in a half dozen examples, the first of which is at 9:2. Within the NT, only in Acts do we see this sobriquet used for what we are invited to believe are early Jewish Christians. The Scrolls use the term in an unqualified or absolute sense, exactly as in Acts. [7].
[7] For example, 'Those who have chosen the Way...' 1QS 9:17-18. See Fitzmyer, 1997, p. 282 for other examples of the absolute use of 'Way'.
- Qumran and Early Christianity, A sort of detective story, and a personal view of Christian origins. by Sid Green (Revised October 23, 2001)

The relevant passage:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. (Acts of the Apostles 9:1-2)

This character Saul is still, at this point, presented as the Herodian thug persecuting insurrectionists (the followers of James at Qumran):
63 CE
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews - Book XX, Chapter 9. Concerning Albinus under whose Procuratorship James was slain; as also what edifices were built by Agrippa.
Costobarus also, and Saulus, did themselves get together a multitude of wicked wretches, and this because they were of the royal family; and so they obtained favor among them, because of their kindred to Agrippa; but still they used violence with the people, and were very ready to plunder those that were weaker than themselves. And from that time it principally came to pass that our city was greatly disordered, and that all things grew worse and worse among us.

66 CE
Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews, Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem, Book II, Chapter 17. How the war of the Jews with the Romans began, and concerning Manahem.
So the men of power perceiving that the sedition was too hard for them to subdue, and that the danger which would arise from the Romans would come upon them first of all, endeavored to save themselves, and sent ambassadors, some to Florus, the chief of which was Simon the son of Ananias; and others to Agrippa, among whom the most eminent were Saul, and Antipas, and Costobarus, who were of the king's kindred; and they desired of them both that they would come with an army to the city, and cut off the seditious before it should be too hard to be subdued.

Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews, Or The History Of The Destruction Of Jerusalem, Book II, Chapter 20. Cestius sends ambassadors to Nero. The people of Damascus slay those Jews that lived with them. The people of Jersualem after they had [left off] persuing Cestius, return to the city and get things ready for its defence and make a great many generals for, their armies and particularly Josephus the writer of these books. Some of account of his administration.
1. AFTER this calamity had befallen Cestius, many of the most eminent of the Jews swam away from the city, as from a ship when it was going to sink; Costobarus, therefore, and Saul, who were brethren, together with Philip, the son of Jacimus, who was the commander of king Agrippa's forces, ran away from the city, and went to Cestius. But then how Antipas, who had been besieged with them in the king's palace, but would not fly away with them, was afterward slain by the seditious, we shall relate hereafter. However, Cestius sent Saul and his friends, at their own desire, to Achaia, to Nero, to inform him of the great distress they were in, and to lay the blame of their kindling the war upon Florus, as hoping to alleviate his own danger, by provoking his indignation against Florus.
As the Saul of the New Testament is this same Saul, there is little or no need for parody: he really is the bully-boy working for the Herodians as he is portrayed. When he becomes Paul, his role becomes covert, pretending to have converted to The Way and whilst roaming the Levant supposedly gathering support for the insurrectionists, actually recruiting his own Greco-Roman/Chrestian following.

Though the words "the way" appears many times in the New Testament, some of these seem to refer more obviously to the Jewish religious expression:
  • This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " (Matthew 3:3 NIV)
  • For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:32 NIV)
  • They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. (Matthew 22:16 NIV)
  • They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (Mark 12:14 NIV)
  • And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, (Luke 1:76 NIV)
  • As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. (Luke 3:4 NIV)
  • So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. (Luke 20:21 NIV)
  • John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' " (John 1:23 NIV)
  • Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)
  • This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." (Acts 16:17 NIV)
  • He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. (Acts 18:25 NIV)
  • He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. (Acts 18:26 NIV)
  • But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9 NIV)
  • About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. (Acts 19:23 NIV)
  • However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, (Acts 24:14 NIV)
  • Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. "When Lysias the commander comes," he said, "I will decide your case." (Acts 24:22 NIV)
Felix the procurator of Judea is a freedman of Antonia Minor and thus a Chrestian, supporter of the Herodian monarchy and its agent, Saul.

Priscilla and Aquila we may treat later.

We see clearly how The Way can be used in parody, with this example:
  • For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:32 NIV)
This is not the message of Observant Jews, especially not of the Messianic Jews and Righteous Teacher of Qmran and the Scrolls. Rather this is the imperial, Roman message, typical of Chrestianity. As Gould describes:
A second story from Acts that is paralleled by another source is Simon Peter’s famous “tablecloth vision” from Chapter 10 [It will be recalled that “Peter” (i.e., “Rocky”) is a nickname that Simon has acquired, presumably because his support of Jesus was “solid as a rock”.] Peter is going to be invited to dinner by a centurion, Cornelius from the Italica regiment in Caesarea, who is improbably described as “fearing God”, “giving many gifts to the poor”, and “supplicating God continuously” (Acts 10:1-2). Peter has a vision in which a heavenly tablecloth descends, covered with various animals, which he is instructed by a voice to “kill and eat. ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ ” (Acts 10:13-15). Later, Peter summarizes his visit: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28).

Even without knowing the historical parallel of this story, it is one of the most revealing and explosive in the entire New Testament. First, it demonstrates unequivocally that the whole “inclusivist message”, which is directly attributed to Jesus via innumerable Gospel stories, was in fact completely foreign to Jesus. Otherwise, it would not have been necessary for Peter, one of his closest and “rockiest” supporters, to receive a vision about it well after Jesus’s death. Thus, this story, by itself, tells us that vast portions of the Gospels, in which Jesus is pictured as associating and engaging in table fellowship with all kinds of forbidden persons (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc) and dismissing Jewish dietary law in favor of a universalist, humanitarian message (“What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.” Matt 15:10), are just constructed from whole cloth. In fact, it is astonishing that anyone can remain a believing Christian after pondering this clumsy addendum to the Jesus Gospel stories.

Also:
By "Herodian" we mean a religio-political orientation not inimical to the aims of the Herodian family, not only in Palestine, but also in Asia Minor and even Rome, and possibly implying a genealogical connection as well. Examples of the effect of such an orientation expressed with retrospective historical effect in the Gospels would be the curious thematic repetitions portraying a Jewish Messiah desiring fellowship with "Sinners" (for Paul in Gal 2:l, "Gentiles"), "publicans" (presumably Jewish dietary regulations were of little consequence to such persons), "prostitutes" (in our view a euphemism for "fornicators" as per Jamesian/Qumran definition, i.e., those who defined technical rules of sexual purity differently or less strictly), and "tax-collectors" (persons fitting comfortably into the political philosophy enunciated by Paul in Rom 13), and a whole genre of other allusions such as "the first shall be last," "these little ones"/"simple ones," the Messiah as "wine-bibber" (presumably therefore distinguished from such well-known life-long Nazirite types as his brother James, John the Baptist, the mysterious "Banus," and probably the Qumran Righteous Teacher). (Price review)

As we indicate, this James is the "messiah" - until his extra-judicial killing in 62 - and hence the biblical parody:
7 And God considered their works; for they sought Him with a perfect heart
And He raised them up a Teacher of righteousness
To lead them in the way of His heart.
8 And He made known to later generations
what He had done [to a later generation] to a congregation of treacherous men:
Those who turned aside out of the way. (The Damascus Document)

Comments