What are the symptoms of false humility? How do they display in religiosity and different cultural contexts? How do they mislead from true spirituality? This study begins a contrast between Christ’s example, teachings, and Judaism around him.
CONTRASTING CHRIST WITH JUDAISM REGARDING CHILDREN
One of the unique things in Jesus’ teachings…that you don’t find somewhere else in the Judaism of his day, is a regard for children…. Kids are basically unimportant…. Sure, there are synagogue schools, but they should not interrupt a rabbi. They should not be near where the sermon is going on. If you bless them, you put a hand on their head…. Jesus put his arms around the children to bless them…. That was an unusual way of blessing, but for kids that is so much more meaningful…. He didn’t mind the kids being around when he spoke. The disciples think they are helping.Jesus the Teacher
False humility is perhaps more easily exposed in the presence of children. They’re so trusting and vulnerable. But for children, false humility can also be more destructive.
DESCRIBING MUCH OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) make frequent mention of Israel’s great heroes. They serve as models of piety and faithfulness and are rarely criticized, even when their failings are quite serious. The heroes are also co-opted to serve as authors of additional biblical-like books, that is, the books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. There was no better way to win a readership than to present your book as if someone like Moses or Enoch had endorsed or even written it.Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls
ADAM AS “NOT SO BAD”
Adam is famous by virtue of being the first human…. Since he sinned and broke God’s law, the writers of the scrolls understandably give Adam mixed reviews. He is a hero of sorts, but also an example of failure…. The commentary on Psalm 37 also mentions Adam…in this case appears to be positive. Those who have lived in the wilderness (perhaps signifying the men of Qumran?) have lived in virtue. To them and their descendants “belongs all the heritage of Adam forever.” The “heritage of Adam” may refer to…paradise forever.Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls
Elsewhere we find an interesting interpretation of Adam and Eve in a scroll comprising various laws. The author explains the role the garden of Eden played in making Adam and Eve holy: “In the first week Adam was created but he had no holiness until he was brought to the Garden…because the Garden of Eden is holy, and every growing thing in its midst is holy.”
Another scroll prayerfully recalls Adam’s creation and fall: “You fashioned Adam…set him to rule over the garden…he guarded it. You enjoined him not to turn aside from your commands…. Flesh is he, and to dust he shall return.”
NOAH’S DRUNKENNESS OVERLOOKED
Given his rather ambiguous moral portrait… (recall his drunkenness), it is surprising that Noah is the subject of so much attention among the DSS, and yet there are books…that bear the name of Noah or are about him…. 1Q19-20 may have been originally titled “Book of the Words of Noah” …. According to Jubilees 10:1-14, Noah wrote a book. Possibly that was a reference to this book, making it pseudepigraphal…. The Genesis Apocryphon devotes 4 large columns of text to the birth of Noah…written from the perspective of his father, Lamech. Another 12 columns are devoted to his life….Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls
Several scrolls mention Noah’s flood…. The…Damascus Document appeals to the event in order to teach that hearts that refuse to obey God are the cause of judgment and annihilation.
ABRAHAM’S DECEPTION MADE TO APPEAR BETTER
Abraham is the Jewish hero par excellence…the ethnic fountainhead…exemplar of faith…. He answered God’s summons, showed remarkable faith and patience, and received from God covenant promises…. Not surprisingly the DSS take great interest in him. His name (either as Abraham or…Abram) occurs some 100 times in the DSS….Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls
Abstracting the famous man’s life in a column and a half of text…the author of a work usually called Patriarchal Narratives begins the story of Abraham…makes clear that Pharaoh would have killed Abraham had he suspected that Sarah was his wife rather than his sister. Relating the event himself, Abraham says, “He sought to kill me, but Sarah said to the king, “he is my brother….”
Abraham knew of the danger because of a dream in which he had been warned of Pharaoh’s evil intentions…. Such dreams were interpreted as warnings from God. In mortal danger, Abraham had no choice but to deceive Pharaoh.
FALSE HUMILITY TODAY
Victorian cultural values were popular about a generation ago. My dad was particularly influenced by this while I was quite small. Thankfully Dad was sorry later and gradually changed as he realized how damaging it was. But his austerity used to always replace the welcoming smiles children cling to, and the impact of this was quite difficult for me to recover from.
Have you noticed in the above-quoted scrolls all the misleading things assumed to be “truly spiritual” or “holy”? To lessen the evilness of any sin, or excuse it, is itself a serious sin. Next week I’ll cover more about putting people on pedestals.