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 The Scroll community was a splinter group deeply impregnated with Judean culture that criticized some of the Temple's teachings. After the execution of their Teacher in Jerusalem, the community was facing a very serious problem: how to save the sacred alliance and retain the hopes of everlasting life? The most immediate answer was to endorse the Teacher with a messianic stature. This ensured a form of leadership continuity. The Teacher became a virtual leader, supervisor over his orphaned flock and his advice solicited. The situation will then evolve.


Sociology teaches us that nothing is more common than community divisions after the death of a charismatic leader. The community is pro-Teacher and anti-Temple and the new leaders will try to differentiate the Messiah Teacher from the Elijah Temple Messiah. This is where the first set of tandem Messiahs intervenes. They are testing new Messianic identities, Aaron and Israel, and both have the ability to shed their spirit on their bygone leader. Taken separately or both together, singular or plural, they have the same basic and consensual meaning: Elijah is banned from the community. Consensus is a fragile state and the more active members will explore how far anti-Temple they can go. They will reject all the prophets and leaders between Abraham and the Teacher who were blind on the promise of eternal life. A Qumran avant-garde is going to gather under the banner of a Priestly Messiah, opposed to a more traditionalist group claiming a Davidic Messiah. This second lot of tandem Messiahs is going to fight for influence and the Priestly group is going to win, as announced in the Qumran "Messianic fragment" where the Priestly Messiah overpowers the Messiah of Israel. The sectarians are giving a pie-chart of their local assembly. The two separate Messiahs are obviously not real people, but invented to identify community clans.


How do the tandem Qumran Messiahs connect with the Gospels?


The Gospels have the same internal structure, with two Messiahs. A winning Messiah Jesus and a loser John the Baptist. The Baptist, an ascetic model dressed in camel clothes is an allegory of Elijah and represents a tradition abiding group that remained close to Temple teachings. The first Gospel writer, Mark, is a marionettist who animates the strings of his rising puppet Jesus and entangles the strings of the one who must fall. This means that the Gospel Messiahs were invented by the first evangelist to deliberate between two tendencies. Both were fictional characters, just as the elephant and the donkey represent two sides of American democracy. Being written around 75 AD, also shows that the Galilean and Jerusalem background were only a historical niche that suited the writer's purpose.


As with any initial clash, the situation would evolve. Turncoats, compromise, new balance. Matthew will include the losing group of traditionalists within a more federating project. Just compare the interactions between the two Messiahs and you will understand that the traditionalists are no longer rejected, but accepted as belonging to their community history. That is what the baptism of Jesus by the Baptist stands for. This community 'shake-hand' is so central that it was retrospectively re-injected into Mark's composition.


The Gospels give us an account of successive phases of community quarrels and mending.



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