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Historical Roots Of The Eschatological Priesthood

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the historical background of the concepts of messianic and eschatological priesthood. The expanded role of the priesthood in the Second Temple period is noted. Sectarian criticisms of the Jerusalem temple and priestly establishment are examined alongside non-sectarian ones as a means of determining the peculiar social context that nurtured sectarian hopes in an end-time priesthood. Special attention is paid to the issues of moral and ritual purity, and the motivating factors for the physical separation of the community from Jerusalem are re-examined. Numerous sources, both non-sectarian and sectarian, specify the defiling offences committed by the Second Temple priesthood as well as the laity. The study of the Qumranite liturgical texts illustrates that community members entered and even became the material of the most important temple, the imaginal temple. There they joined the angels in perfect praise of God, which was of cosmic importance.

Keywords: eschatological priesthood; Jerusalem; Qumranite liturgical text; ritual purity; Second Temple period; sectarian writing



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