Excursus: Double Predestination Was Nothing New for a Jew For some of you, this is probably the very

first book you’ve ever picked up that had an excursus. You’re probably asking, “what in the world is an excursus and should I even be reading one?” It sounds weird, I know, to suddenly interrupt the flow of a book with something like this. But it’s quite alright, I assure you! Just think of it this way. An excursus is like an excursion. It is a field trip outside the classroom. In short, an excursus is a scholar’s legitimate way of taking a rabbit trail. That’s sort of what I want to do here. This excursus was added in to sort of legitimize my ADD tendencies when it comes to theological issues! The ending of the last chapter on Romans 9 is as good a place as any to bring up something many Christians are ignorant of. To be sure, their ignorance stems not from their desire to be so, but simply from their lack of access, many times, to research materials. So let me begin this short excurses by asking you, if you are one who holds to predestination, have you ever asked yourself why it is that those who read the same Bible you do don’t read it the same way you do? This becomes even more evident when you both are reading a text like Romans 9:11-13. It says what it says. How can it be saying something different? The problem is that we are all prone to read our own culture back into the culture of the Bible. That was undoubtedly Alex’s problem. He was such a product of his culture that he confessed he just couldn’t see how Paul could believe something like double-predestination, or even predestination for that matter. Instead of letting Paul speak for himself, Alex had inserted himself as the mouthpiece of Paul. This was another truth I wanted to show to Alex. I began by attempting to show him how he was allowing his own culture to be read back into the text. I showed how he did not do this with other texts, but that he was doing so with texts that speak to this issue. He still didn’t see it. Again, the culture of individualism that is so prevalent in American Christianity, formed a cloud over his mind, as it does so many other minds. But I’m honestly afraid that it is a selected cloud that allows them to see and agree with only those portions that don’t put their individualism at risk. But there is no individualism with Paul, nor can I find it among the Jews. They had a corporate view of themselves. Individualism is simply destroyed in a cursory reading through the OT. Therefore, when we view things from their culture rather than from our own, it becomes easier to digest this following truth: the concept of double-

predestination was nothing new for a Jew. This was another truth I didn’t get to explain to Alex. He had already tuned me out, so I just decided to quit while I was behind! For those of you who are finding it hard to see Paul as a theologian who believed in this kind of stuff, you need to know that his theology is merely reflective of the standard Jewish understanding of his day. An ordinary Jew had no problem at all with this thinking process. They considered God to be a sovereign God who determined not only who He would save and who He would condemn, but also a God who determines every single event that has ever happened and will ever happen. What I want to do in this brief excurses is attempt to show you from other contemporary sources outside the Scriptures that this concept of double-predestination would not have been foreign to a Jew. In other words, by looking at other books and documents from their era, we can gain some insight into their theological perspectives. These documents are found in the Qumrani or Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, the Psuedepigrapha, and Rabbinic traditions. Now, if you are wondering what in the world these documents are, or if you are tempted to put this book down because you think I’m now going to start quoting from anti-biblical or heretical stuff, hang in there! I have no doubt that some readers will have a problem with me relying on sources outside of the Bible to help interpret the Bible. That may seem odd. But I assure you it is a normal and ordinary part of exegesis and interpretation. Many times we can get a better picture of what a word of phrase means by looking at how it was used outside the Bible. To be sure, sometimes these books and documents are in fact blatantly contradictory to the themes and concepts in Scripture. But that doesn’t mean they are completely useless to us. In the very least they give is an accurate picture of what people were thinking and studying and talking about in those days. I think you will find that in the portions I am going to quote, they simply confirm for us what we have already seen in passages like Romans 9, and in other texts like the one from Proverbs we will look at next. So if you can hang with me on this point, and if you’re daring enough, read on brother and sister. The Dead Sea Scrolls Let’s start first with the Qumrani library, also called the Dead Sea Scrolls. These texts were initially discovered about sixty years ago by a shepherd boy who, after throwing a few rocks around, happened to land one of those rocks into a small cave. When the rock pelted the opening of the cave it shattered something pretty big, as was evident by the

sound. So when the boy was lowered into the cave, the most incredible archaeological find of the twentieth century was begun. Between 1947 and 1956 thousands upon thousands of complete scrolls (like the Hebrew scroll of Isaiah among others) and scroll fragments (representing portions of every book of the OT except for Esther) were recovered in many other Qumran caves. These various documents represent a massive body of Jewish documents, a library by all rights, dating from the third century B.C. to 68 A.D. What this means is that this library reflects the rich literary activity of a period of Jewish history called Second Temple Judaism, that era of Jewish history beginning after Ezra, Nehemiah and their group rebuilt the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar to the time just before it was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Because of the historical time period in which these documents were written, scholars can now have some serious insight into the centuries which were pivotal to both Judaism and Christianity. They provide a wonderful background, then, against which we can compare our interpretations of various Biblical texts. Per one teacher, “The scrolls indicate that many doctrines that would later take hold in Christianity grew out of the soil of an older Jewish tradition. Predestination, belief in angels, a welldeveloped concept of hell and the devil (Sheol/Abaddon and Belial, in the scrolls), and even (possibly) the belief in a divine messiah who would suffer at the hands of his doubters are all found in the scrolls.”1 The Dead Sea Scrolls were written by a community of families called the Essenes. They were the first of three biblical scholars and scribes during this day and time. The other two were the more familiar Pharisees and Sadducees. All three of these groups were mentioned by name by the famed first century historian Josephus. In his work entitled Antiquities, he writes the following explanation which is very helpful in understanding predestination as held by these three groups of Jewish teachers. “At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power,
Robert Jones. “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity” from Sunday School Courses on the internet at: www.sundayschoolcourses.com/deadsea/deadmain.htm.

and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. However, I have given a more exact account of these opinions in the second book of the Jewish War.”2 The Essenes then were the group who was totally sold out to complete predestination, over against the compatibalistic view of predestination and free-will held by the Pharisees, and the anti-predestinarian view held by the Sadducees.3 With this background in place, allow me, if you will, to “scroll through” some of the scroll fragments which provide some incredibly helpful insight into how the Essenes would have thought about this subject of predestination as well as double-predestination, and of God’s sovereign involvement and direction of all things. The first quotation comes from 1QS 3:15-17. “From the God of knowledge comes all that is and shall be, and before (beings) were, He established all their design. And when they are, they fulfill their task according to their statues, in accordance with His glorious design changing nothing within it. In His hand are the laws of all (beings) and He upholds them in all their needs.” 4
2 Flavius Josephus. The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. by William Whiston (London, England: George Virtue, 1843), p. 397. Book 13, Chapter 5, Paragraph 9. Especially helpful to note is that Josephus himself was a Pharisee (see The Life of Flavius Josephus, section 2). The translator points out in a footnote on this quoted section that “his account of this doctrine of the Pharisees is for certain agreeable to his own opinion, who ever both fully allowed the freedom of human actions, and yet strongly believed in the powerful interposition of Divine Providence.” See also Book 18, Chapter 1, Section 3; as well as Jewish Wars, Book 2, Chapter 8, Section 14. 3

Per Gerhard Maier in his book, Mensch und frier Wille nach den jeudischen Religionparteien zwischen Ben Sira und Paul (1971), pages 351-81 contain, among much useful information for making comparisons between Paul’s theology of predestination and Old Testament tradition, Maier’s conclusion that “Paul formulated his own position in Romans 9 in conscious opposition to the pharisaic insistence…that free will is a prerequisite of accountability if God is to be righteous” (John Piper, The Justification of God, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993. Page 72). No, I don’t read German! That’s why I rely on other scholars instead of playing the part!

The second quotation picks up shortly where this passage leaves off. It comes from 1QS 3:25-4:1. “Truly, the Spirits of light and darkness were made by Him; upon these (Spirits) He has founded every work, upon their [counsels] every service, and upon their ways (every Visit)ation. The one, God loves everlastingly, and delights in all his deeds forever, but the counsel of the other He loathes, and He hates all his ways forever.” The final text I’ve chosen from the Dead Sea Scrolls is found in 1 QH 15:12-22. It is more difficult and reads as follows. And I, because of Your understanding, I know that [the righteousness of man] is not in the hand of flesh [and] that man [is not] master of his way and that mankind cannot strengthen his step. And I know that the inclination of every spirit is in Your hand [and that] You have ordained [the way of every man] before creating him. And how can any man change Your words? You alone have created the just and established him from his mother’s womb unto the time of good will that he may be preserved in Your covenant and walk in all Your way…And You have raised up his glory from among flesh whereas You have created the wicked [for the time of] of Your [wr]ath and have set them apart from their mother’s womb for the Day of Massacre…You have created all [them that despise] Your [will] to execute judgment against them in the eyes of all Your works that they may serve as a sign, and wo[nder unto] everlasting [generations] that [all] may know Your glory and awful might. If my bet is right, that’s probably the first time you’ve ever read anything from the Qumran texts. For some it may sound a little like Bible. For others, references to the sons of light and 1QS and 1QH may cause them to wonder if the Dead Sea Scrolls were the original inspiration for George Lucas’ Star Wars movies! Perhaps the ‘sons of light’ Jedi Knights, and 1QS and 1QH prototypes of CP3O and R2D2? Naahh…probably not. The reference to “sons of light” is actually a synonym to refer to the righteous, while the “sons of darkness” was used to refer to the unrighteous. And the reference to 1QS is merely a way of cataloguing the scrolls – 1QS referring to the first Qumrani scroll. w

My edition of the Dupont-Sommer translation The Essene Writings from Qumran (Oxford, England: Oxford Press, 1961), p. ??

From these texts, however, it is clear that the other side of predestination – that of predestining some for His wrath – is so evident that it would represent a common understanding of God’s predestinating activity during that day and time. What is more, I was personally astounded that these ancient documents saw an inseparable link between this activity of God and His glory. Look again at the last sentence of that last text quoted. “You have created all [them that despise] Your [will] to execute judgment against them in the eyes of all Your works that they may serve as a sign, and wo[nder unto] everlasting [generations] that [all] may know Your glory and awful might.” There it is! This is something that greatly excites me, and it is a truth I will touch upon in Part 4. But for now, I just wanted to whet your appetite for the fact that this extra-biblical source shows us that not only did Jews understand double-predestination, but many of them saw the necessity of the divine link between this act of His sovereignty and His glory and might. God doubly predestines for His glory! More on that later. There are a few other Qumrani texts that also reveal the same truth. You can look these up if you have time and opportunity. I do want to summarize what we have just read by considering a few thoughts from a scholarly source.

“The belief of an absolute determinism is related to the ethical dimension of the text. 1QS 3:15 states that God is the sole creator of all things, and that before they came into existence, He had 'made all their plans,' while 1QS 3:16 asserts that once things come into being, they will 'execute all their works in compliance with his instructions…without altering anything.' 1QS 4:24 states that men walk in the ways of truth or injustice, respectively, 'in agreement with man's birthright.' “These passages emphasize a strong belief in predestination with the implication that the 'sons of light' did not choose their way of life, but had been appointed by God at their creation. The righteous are righteous only because they have been chosen by God. Therefore, free will does not factor into whether or not an individual falls into the lot of the righteous or the wicked.”6

If you want to read more, see 4:24-26; 11:10,11; 1 QH 7(15):16-26.

Among the many scrolls and fragments found at Qumran, one of them is called the Manual of Discipline. This document was basically a collection of rules and teachings which governed the community of Essenes at Qumran, the scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A complete Hebrew scroll of this document exists, having been written somewhere between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100.7 In short it outlines the communal lifestyle headed up by a strictly organized hierarchy of Masters, Levites, and priests. From what we have been able to learn about the Essenes, they were probably one of the most disciplined scribes of the Hebrew Bible ever to live. It is in this Manual of Discipline that we find clear reference to the fact that this community believed in double-predestination. At the top of this theology is basic predestination, which teaches, of course, that “God established the design of everything before it occurred; all happens according to his predetermined plan. All individuals fall under the power of light or darkness in line with that divine blueprint (cols. 3-4).”8 The first translator of the Manual of Discipline, Millar Burrows, has given us his translation of part which clearly points to their belief in divine predestination as being the very foundation for their rules and teachings. “In these two spirits are the origins of all the sons of man, and in their divisions all the hosts of men have their inheritance in their generations. In the ways of the two spirits men walk. And all the performance of their works is in their two divisions, according to each man’s inheritance, whether much or little, for all the periods of eternity.”9 Another document from the Dead Sea Scrolls which clearly teaches predestination is the text of Jubilees. This is a document
“Dualism in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Part 4: Instruction on the Two Spirits (IQS),” an article giving an overview of the dualism (light/dark, good/evil) within the Dead Sea Scrolls Corpus. It is available in seven parts online through Delirium’s Realm at http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/delirium/religion/dualism.asp.
7 “Community Rule.” Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, edited by Jacob Neusner and William Scott Green (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), p. 129. 8


“Predestination.” Dicitonary of Judaism,, p. 499. This is an extremely helpful article in narrowing down and summing up the basic understanding on predestination in Jewish thought. It is highly recommended. 9 Millard Burrows. The Dead Sea Scrolls (The Viking Press, 1961), p. 375

originally written in Hebrew, but is only preserved for us in a secondary translation. But when archaeologists discovered fragments of Jubilees among the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was concluded that Jubilees was actually much older than originally thought. Therefore, scholars use it today to spot-check the accuracy of ancient Hebrew translations, as well as to understand the context and culture of life during Second Temple Judaism.10 It is in this particular document that we can find“the history of Israel, is apostasy and eventual return, already recorded on heavenly tablets (Jubilee 1).”11 The Apocrypha The second extra-biblical source to be considered is the Apocrypha. The word “apocrypha,” was originally used by the fifthcentury church father and scholar Jerome. He used the word to refer to those books which were included in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint, abbreviated as LXX) but not in the Hebrew Bible. On the whole, though, the term is generally used to refer to any writings that are outside the biblical canon (sometimes referred to as “pseudepigrapha” or “false writings.”). The writings that make up the Apocrypha contain several works ranging from the fourth century B.C to New Testament times. These include the books of Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, First and Second Maccabees, the two Books of Esdras, various additions to the Book of Esther (10:4-10), the Book of Daniel (3:24-90;13;14), and the Prayer of Manasseh. If you’ve ever picked up copy of a Catholic Bible you’ll notice that there are several extra books inserted between the Old and New Testaments. The Roman Catholic Church would consider these books as part of the inspired Scriptures (calling them “deuterocanonical” or “second canon”). I do not share this view, and for good reasons. The primary two reasons are because (1) much material in these writings contradicts the rest of the Old Testament, and (2) those who canonized the OT before it was translated into Greek did not recognize these books as divinely
1 10

See J. Davila’s, “A Best Case Scenario: The Book of Jubilees,” a lecture summary given at St. Andrews University on February 13, 1997. Available online as a link from Early Jewish Writings at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sd/jub1.html. A highly useful piece of research called “The Book of Jubilees” is available as online course outline from Atlantic Baptist University. It is available at http://www.abu.nb.ca/Courses/NTIntro/InTest/Jubilees.htm.
1 11

Neusner, p. 499.

inspired. Oddly enough, however, and probably to the chagrin of King James’ only advocates, these writings were included in the original 1611 edition of the KJV. The text I want you to consider comes from the Revised Standard Version’s translation of the Apocrypha. It is found in Sirach 33:7-15. “(7)Why is any day better than another, when all the daylight in the year is from the sun? (8) By the Lord's decision they were distinguished, and he appointed the different seasons and feasts; (9) some of them he exalted and hallowed, and some of them he made ordinary days. (10) All men are from the ground, and Adam was created of the dust. (11) In the fulness of his knowledge the Lord distinguished them and appointed their different ways; (12) some of them he blessed and exalted, and some of them he made holy and brought near to himself; but some of them he cursed and brought low, and he turned them out of their place. (13) As clay in the hand of the potter -- for all his ways are as he pleases -- so men are in the hand of him who made them, to give them as he decides. Good is the opposite of evil, and life the opposite of death; so the sinner is the opposite of the godly. Look upon all the works of the Most High; they likewise are in pairs, one the opposite of the other.”12 I’m sure you’ll notice that the italicized phrase uses a concept already introduced in our first texts. This is a reference back to Isaiah 29:16, 45:9, and 64:8 written a few hundred years earlier. This Apocryphal text then lands in between the original usage in Isaiah and Romans, filling in the time gap, and proving a continuity of thought regarding God’s sovereign freedom over all men as His creatures.13 The Pseudipigrapha There is yet another group of writings known as the pseudepigrapha. They are generally categorized into two sections: Old
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version (Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ, 1946, 1952, 1973). Quoted in BibleWorks.
1 13 12

Neusner’s comments on the text of Romans 9-11 is particularly helpful. “Paul is the writer who comes closest to treating the issue [of predestination] and its implications in a more systematic way. He deals with the complex of questions while treating the problem of the change place of Israel in God’s plan (Rom. 9-11). Form Malachi, he quotes the statement that God loved Jacob but hated Esau – a decision made before they were born. Yet he defends the deity form the charge of injustice by asserting his right and power to act according to his will. To the objection that God ought not therefore to find fault with those whose actions he predestines, he responds that humans are not in a position to argue with their Maker. Moreover, they do not see the full breadth, splendor, and mystery of his plan” (p. 499).

Testament pseudepigrapha and New Testament. This is mainly because the material contained in a particular pseudepigrapha will generally correspond to either books of the Old or New Testaments. By my count there are some sixty-six books in the Old Testament collection. Kind of strange, huh? The books were written at various times throughout history by men claiming to be a person of biblical fame. That’s why these writings are called pseudepigrapha – from the Greek pseudo meaning false, and grapha meaning writings – they are writings written by a falsely named person. There are two sections I wanted to put before you for consideration. The first comes from the Jewish psuedepigrapha of 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. Scholars think these books were written around A.D. 100. It is clear that the authors of these books are wrestling with the same sort of problems as was Paul in Romans 9-11, regarding the nation of Israel in the plan of God. With these authors, however, their perspective is coming from their evident experience in the destruction of their temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by Titus, a pagan enemy of Rome. This obviously caused immense suffering for the Jewish people. Those left alive were wondering if and why God had forsaken them. Per one Judaism scholar, what we see in these writings is that, “The protagonists, each in his own way, present probing questions about justice, but in the end the books encourage human submission to the inscrutable ways of God, who alone understands all. There remains a future relation between the Lord and his chosen people.”14 Another particular book in the pseudepigrapha is called The Apocalypse of Abraham. In short, the apocalypse itself, which is mainly found in chapters 9-32, is supposedly a narration by God in which He gives to Abraham the history between the fall of man and the idolatry of Abraham’s descendents. In other words, it is supposed to fill in the historical narrative gap between Genesis 10 and 12. The apocalypse itself is a sort of foreshadow of God’s coming judgment on Abraham’s idolatrous descendents. According to the work itself, the end of the world is near, God’s judgment is close at hand, the pagan nations are about to be destroyed, the trumpet of God is about to sound summoning the Messiah to come and gather His own people and burn the pagans with fire. To be sure, it is very much reflective of a biblical understanding of the end times. But it is far too anachronistic to

Neusner, p. 499.

put such an understanding of the end times all the way back into Abraham’s day. That’s why the Apocalypse of Abraham is not inspired.15 But like the other extra-biblical writings, it does provide a certain sense of perspective regarding the theological thoughts of Jews when it was written, sometime around the last few decades of the first century A.D. Per one source, The emphasis laid on the freedom of will, notwithstanding the fall of man, presupposes a knowledge of the Christian doctrine of sin, against which this passage seems to be directed. But this very opposition to the Christian dogma shows that at the time the Apocalypse was written Christianity was not far removed from Judaism, at least not in Palestine, where, since he used a Semitic language, the author must have lived.16 The text of 22:1-5 from the Apocalypse of Abraham is the text I wanted to bring to your attention in this excurses. Read through it carefully and I think you’ll gain one final perspective on what appears to be a pretty ordinary theology of predestination. I apologize in advance for what will probably be a very boring reading for some of you. I don’t blame you if you just decide to read the italicized lines and move ahead! “And I said, ‘Eternal, Mighty One! What is this picture of creation?’ And he said to me, ‘This is my will with regard to what is in the light and it was good before my face. And then, afterward, I gave them a command by my word and they came into existence. Whatever I decreed was to exist had already been outlined in this and all the previously created (things) you have seen stood before me.’ And I said, ‘O sovereign, mighty and eternal! Why are the people in this picture on this side and on that?’ And he said to me, ‘These who are on the left side are a multitude of tribes who existed previously…and after you some (who have been) prepared for judgment and order, others for revenge and perdition at the end of the age. Those on the right side of the picture are the people set apart for me of the people with Azazel; these are the ones I have prepared to be born of you and to be called my people.”17
1 15

See JewishEncyclopedia.com for more information at http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=361&letter=A 16 Ibid.

In the lines italicized, it is instantly clear that the view of the writer is that God predestines some for “revenge and perdition at the end of the age,” and others “to be called my people.” This is inescapably and unavoidably double-predestination, plain and simple. The Rabbinic Traditions One final collection of writings is known as the rabbinic traditions. They are recorded for us in works like the Talmud and Mishna. The Talmud is a Jewish work in which the various civil and religious laws not found in the Pentateuch, are written along with commentaries on and illustrations of these laws. These are basically rabbinic interpretations of Old Testament texts, and many times even historic layers of rabbinic interpretations of other rabbinic interpretations. The Mishna is more a philosophical code of law completed around A.D. 200. It served to sanctify Israel from worldly things by taking the Torah, breaking it down in detail and then establishing a hierarchical classification of worldly things so that each Jew would know what and what not to use, how and how not to use it, when and when not to use it, why and why not, etc. ad nauseum. In my opinion it is one of the most “nitpicky” religious codes ever written.18 Please understand, that neither of these sets of documents are inspired Scripture. They are only Jewish literature. But they are very helpful, however, for the same purpose of understanding the strain of Jewish thought regarding various theological subjects. When it comes to the theology of predestination, one scholar explains, “The rabbinic literature presents a largely deterministic point of view, expressed in the statement of the Hanina that ‘a person does not hurt his finger on earth unless it has been decreed from above (B. Hullin 7b).”19
1 17

James H. Charlesworth. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 1 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983), p. 700. For another translation of this passage, see The Apocalypse of Abraham by G. H. Box (New York, NY: The MacMillan Company, 1919), pp. 68-69. In this translation, verse is rendered, “And He said to me: ‘These which are on the left side are the multitude of the peoples which have formerly been in existence and which are after thee destined, some for judgment and restoration, and others for vengeance and destruction at the end of the world.”
1 18

See Neusner, “Mishnah,” pp. 432 ff. for more detail. Neusner, p. 499. See also the article entitled “Predestination & ‘Free-Will’ and Calvinism & Arminianism” by Steven Shaw (Copyright 2000), online at apochrypha.tripod.com/Calvinism/predestination_discussion.htm. That article is Shaw’s own personal studies in which he compared the biblical teaching of election with rabbinic traditions. If further interested, compare Shaw’s article with the link at apochrypha.tripod.com/Calvinism/predestination_discussion.htm to walk through his

But lest we think that their view of predestination excluded man’s responsibility, this same scholar acknowledges that, “despite this deterministic point of view, the rabbis imagined the existence of free will and understood people to be responsible for their actions and fate.”20 This statement, I believe, accurately reflects the biblicallybalanced approach to the subject which all Christians must acknowledge as taught in Scripture. They seem contradictory, but they are not. We just can’t understand their harmony. And I don’t feel so bad because, according nto one writer, “It is well established, at least among historians, that the Talmudic sages struggled with the concepts of predestination and freedom of will.” Who doesn’t? I hope that makes you feel better. The bottom line is that the Bible teaches both God’s predetermining activity and man’s responsibility. 21 Conclusion This excurses has attempted to examine four groups of documents to attempt to understand that the theology of predestination, as well as double-predestination, was not something uncommon to their day and time. The point is that as a Jew, and more particularly as a Rabbi, and more specifically as Pharisee, Paul would have known of and read most of all these writings we just observed. As a Pharisee, it seems that we would have expected Paul to adopt the beliefs of his contemporary Pharisees. But it is clear from his own letters that he in fact did not. His theology of predestination was more akin to that of the Essenes, whose theology seems to have been formulated from a more theocentric perspective of the sovereign God of the Old Testament. I personally do not attribute his theology of double-predestination to the Essenes as if he was in some way connected with this group. There seem to be no know connections between Paul and the
own personal journey toward Calvinism.
2 20

Ibid. The editor goes on to say regarding one illustration that “The rabbis here distinguish between material existence, in which everything is predetermined, and spiritual life, in which people have the choice of abiding by or rejecting God’s will” (p. 500).
2 21

Gil Student, “What’s In A Name? The Attitude Towards Names in Rabbinic Literature.” Available online from Aish HaTorah at www.aishdas.org/student/names.htm.

community of Qumran. But the clearest connections are seen in Paul’s own writings, and they are namely the Old Testament. What we can conclude then, is that a theology of predestination and even doublepredestination was not something uncommon for the ordinary Jew from two or possibly even three hundred years before Christ, extending beyond toward the end of the first century.

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