The Judean cultural context of community of goods in the early Jesus movement: Part I
Capper, B. 2016. The Judean cultural context of community of goods in the early Jesus movement: Part I. Qumran Chronicle. 24 (1-2), pp. 29-49.
Summary of the Argument of the Whole Study
Luke’s account of the community of goods of the earliest community in Jerusalem is clearly idealised with popular philosophical catchphrases. However, instances of formal community of property were a pronounced feature of Palestinian Jewish culture, and had persisted for approaching two centuries amongst the sect of the Essenes prior to the events which Luke purports to describe. By New Testament times communities of Essenes which practised complete sharing of property were to be found in most of the villages and towns of Judaea. There was also a significant community of fully property-sharing Essenes by the ‘Gate of the Essenes’ on Jerusalem’s southwest hill, close to the traditional site of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, the Pentecost events of Acts 2, and the first recorded occasions of the sharing of property and daily corporate spiritual life amongst the early community of believers in Jesus in Jerusalem after his death and resurrection. Features of Luke’s account of property-sharing in Acts 2–6 suggest the employment in the community of believers in Jesus of linguistic usages and organisational forms employed in the legislation for Essene community of goods revealed in the Rule of the Community discovered in Qumran cave 1. Other elements of Luke’s account are illuminated by the practicalities of Essene property-sharing arrangements revealed in the accounts of the Essenes given by Philo and Josephus. These clues point to the probable Judaean origins of the tradition and suggest that a group within the earliest Jerusalem Church practised formal property-sharing. Luke’s portrayal of earliest Christian community of goods can be taken seriously as an historical account.
|Keywords||Essene Community; Gospel of Luke; New Testament; Jesus; Early Christians; Christianity; Judaism; Qumran caves|
|Journal citation||24 (1-2), pp. 29-49|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||28 Feb 2017|
|Accepted||02 Feb 2016|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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