The survivors of Israel : attitudes towards the national salvation among late Second Temple Jewish protest groups, and implications for the literature and beliefs, and for the definition, of pre-Christian Judaism
The predominant view among scholars that pre-Christian Judaism was essentially nationalistic in its election theology has recently been given new momentum. This view, however, continues to create difficulties for an historical understanding of Christianity. Moreover a reconsideration of this view is demanded by indications of an important judgement-of-Israel theme and an exclusivist soteriology among a number of important pre-Christian Jewish groups. A valid approach to such groups must take into consideration their perception of, and protest against, widespread apostasy in Israel throughout the Second Temple period. Adopting a defensive in group/out group posture and mentality their theology tends to embrace highly individual, conditional and dualistic understandings of covenant, and their literature and beliefs are influenced by a dominating 'soteriological dualism', seen in their pneumatology, their growing corporate consciousness, their literary forms, their messianology and their eschatology. Far from evidencing an essentially nationalistic perspective, literature and beliefs function socially to define and legitimize the division in Israel which has resulted from the apostasy of the nation, and to validate and vindicate the view that these groups represent the faithful in Israel. This consciousness of being the elect comes to clearest expression in the nuanced view of Restoration sustained by these groups, and in their unique Destruction-preservation soteriology, which climaxes in the view that the group of righteous represents the sole remnant or 'survivors' of Israel. All of this demands a radical reconsideration of many former comparative approaches to the NT.