Cornelis Bennema, «The Sword of the Messiah and the Concept of Liberation in the Fourth Gospel», Vol. 86 (2005) 35-58
This article elucidates the Johannine concept of Jesus’
"sword" as the means of liberation against a background of Palestinian messianic
apocalypticism. It is argued that the Johannine Jesus is depicted as a messiah
who liberates the world at large from the spiritual oppression of sin and the
devil by means of his Spirit-imbued word of truth. In addition, Jesus also
provides physical, social, religious and political liberation. Jesus’ programme
of holistic liberation is continued by his disciples through the transference of
his "sword" in the form of their Paraclete-imbued witness.
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The Sword of the Messiah 41
In conclusion, the hope for the liberation of â€œIsraelâ€ from bondage
to foreign and domestic oppressors lies for the author of Psalms of
Solomon in the concept of a future Davidic messiah that is strongly
rooted in Isaiah 11. The messiah will sift the righteous and the sinner
by his Spirit-imbued word of wisdom and power that has a twofold
effect: for the righteous it will bring cleansing, liberation and
restoration; for the sinner it will announce judgment and destruction.
Some scholars contend that the psalmist portrays a â€œspiritualâ€ messiah
rather than a political militant one (17). However, although the messiah
in Psalms of Solomon certainly has a spiritual side (his source of
liberation is divine), we cannot dichotomize this from the political
dimension (liberation from the Romans and illegitimate Jewish rulers)
and militant dimension (the violent aspect can hardly be denied in,
e.g., 17,24-25.35) (18). Hence, the traditional picture of a political
warrior-messiah is still present, but it has been supplemented with that
of a Spirit-empowered teacher-messiah.
The Essene community at Qumran might have originated as a
faction within the anti-Seleucid coalition (the Hasidim?) of the
Maccabean period during the latter part of the second century B.C.E.,
but was destroyed during the first Jewish revolt in 66-70 C.E., and
most of the sectarian scrolls can be dated to the first century B.C.E.(19).
In the Qumran literature, we find the conceptualization of three
eschatological figures â€” occasionally a prophet like Moses, and more
often the messiahs of Aaron and Israel (1QS 9,11 is the locus classicus
for this expectation, but cf. CD 7,17-21; 1Q28a col 2,11-22; 4Q174
(17) DE JONGE, â€œPsalmsâ€, 174; J.H. CHARLESWORTH, â€œMessianology in the
Biblical Pseudepigraphaâ€, Qumran-Messianism. Studies on the Messianic
Expectations in the Dead Sea Scrolls (eds. J.H. CHARLESWORTH et al.) (TÃ¼bingen
1998) 30-31; cf. HORSLEY â€“ HANSON, Bandits, 106.
(18) Cf. J.J. COLLINS, The Scepter and the Star. The Messiahs of the Dead Sea
Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (New York 1995) 54-55.
(19) MURPHY, World, 188-189; J.J. COLLINS, The Apocalyptic Imagination. An
Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (Grand Rapids â€“ Cambridge 21998)
146-150. See also G. Boccacciniâ€™s challenging thesis that the Essenes at Qumran
were an offshoot of Enochic Judaism (Beyond the Essene Hypothesis. The Parting
of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism [Grand Rapids 1998]).
References to Qumran literature are taken from F. GARCÃA MARTÃNEZ â€“ E.J.C.
TIGCHELAAR, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (Leiden â€“ Grand Rapids 1997-