Second Temple Period

For our Jewish and Christian readers:

Conflicts during Second Temple Period and their
Influence on Prophetic Literature

In this book an attempt has been made to remove the cloak of mystery over the
early statges of Second Temple period. Researchers are now convinced that the
Second Temple Period is the formative period of present five books of Torah. The
author proposes that not only Torah but also the prophetic literature is actually an
outcome of political rifts and religious divisions in this period.
There is a growing awareness of importance of the Second Temple Period
among the Judo-christian scholars. We can see number of books published in
recent years which are devoted to this important era of Jewish history. The focal
point of this study is also the Second Temple politics. If one reads prophetic
literature, one would find that pre-exilic prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah etc
have discussed issues related to early second temple period. For example walls
surrounding Jerusalem and mixed marriages issues which were actually the point
of strife in the early second temple period. Authors thus projected themselves
in the pre-exilic period and tried to change the present. Because of these political
and religious contentions, bible and prophetic literature become the corpus of
conflicting prophecies and ideas. Later Jews and Christians used the same conflicting
prophesies for the arrival of Messiah figure. The concept of two messiahs
was present among Qumran community as revealed by dead sea scrolls  and the
second coming of the Christ is also deduced from the similar conflicting verses of
the prophetic books.
A natural question arises that why these prophets are discussing issues which
occurred in early second temple period, though they claimed they belong to different
ages. The reason of development of biblical literature was priestly differences
in the early second temple period. There are number of questions for example:

 Why the author of Book of Jeremiah did mistakes in calculating the period
of captivity?
 How the visions of Ezekiel are related to second temple period?
 Who was the true root of Davidic dynasty?
 How Messianic ideas are weaved into biblical literature to fulfill some political
needs?
 What differences in priestly lines caused the murder of the Prophet Zechariah?
 How the Nehemiah and Ezra high-lighted their political agenda in the Torah?
 What caused the Samaritan schism?

It is explained in this book that the authors of book of Jeremiah, Amos, Zephaniah,
Ezekiel belong to the group supporting Ezra and Nehemiah whereas the
authors of books of Haggai and Zechariah were supporters of Zerrubabel i.e. they
belong to anti-Ezra group. The bloody feud resulted in murder of the prophet
Zechariah son of Iddo, as informed by Jesus in gospel of Mathew. The scribal
editions and ”corrections” have masked the influence of the Persia on Judean politics.
The question of credibility of prophetic literature in bible is evaluated under the
light of internal evidences present in the historical books like Kings, Chronicles,
Ezra, Nehemiah and prophetic literature.
To correct the history, in the book of Nehemiah, it is informed that Ezra the
scribe recited the whole Torah with verses never heard before. The complex characters
of Ezra and Nehemiah have caused the Samaritan schism in Judaism. Further
if we analyze the bible through Grafian Hypothesis- the doctrine that the
Levitical Law and the connected parts of Pentateuch were not written till after the
fall of kingdom of Judah, and that the Pentateuch in its present compass was not
publicly accepted as authoritative till the reformation of Ezra, the compilation of
bible would become a human endeavor to win over the opponents. 1
The most noteworthy exploration of this Hypothesis is by Richard E. Friedman.
His research is now available in books titled Who wrote the Bible? and
The Bible with Sources revealed. The hypothesis is now called Documentary hypothesis.
Elliot has proposed that the bible especially the so called five books of
Moses are composed of different writings. These writings were created under the
influence of different political conditions and tastes. For example the details of
Temple services in Bible comes from Priestly Writings. Then there are writings
which have clear influence of politics of southern and northern kingdoms. Some
parts of the biblical text we have today are made up of the interweaving done by
the Redactor. Not only that but the last book Deuteronomy has three different
writings called Dtr1, Dtr2 and the text ranging from chapter 12 till chapter 26 of
Deuteronomy, which has not been specified to any body.2 In a recently published
book ’The origins of the Second Temple’ author claims that the editors of Haggai
and Zechariah had mistakenly set the event of building of Second Temple under
Darius I. The basis of this conclusion is the presumption that the prophetic literature
like Ezekiel and Jeremiah was present before the end of Babylonian captivity.

However there is no need of these corrections as the text itself speaks out in opposite.
The conflicting voices of Zerrubabel and Ezra in the Second Temple Period
cannot be silenced by mere readjustment of the dates.
It is proposed in the present work that one can go back even further down in
history to know the motives behind these writings. Early stages of Second Temple
Period thus become the starting point of the analysis. The theory proposed may
helps in explaining not only the complexity of the Pentateuch but also the so called
prophetic literature along with it.

Abu Shahiryar
2006

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