We also talked through some false framing stories, both from Scripture, and from our current context:
The Story of Progress
Out of the chaos and darkness of history comes the order of Rome. Through conquest, rule, and organization, Roman power will bring peace, security, and prosperity to the entire world.
This story answered questions about purpose and value, and gave significance and direction to the various peoples, castes, and situations of the Empire. It was a great story, unless you belonged to the throng of unfortunate slaves and subjugated peoples upon whose backs the Roman empire was built!
The Jewish people were one such subjugated people, and so the beginning of the various stories they told were often identical to each other. Because they were Jews, with a common hope and vision for the future, the end of the stories they told were often similar as well. The middle, however, was quite distinct for each of the major groups of Jews we meet in the New Testament...
The Story of Rebellion
The Zealots told the story of Roman Oppression. God had allowed the Romans to place their boots on Jewish necks; He was waiting for the Jews to rise up, take a stand for their God, and stab a Roman in the belly with sword or spear. When they did this, God would reward them by ushering in His Kingdom. The Jewish people would live in peace and prosperity...
The Story of Purity
The Pharisees told the story of Roman Oppression. God had allowed the Pagan Romans to invade and interfere with Jewish culture and religious practice; He was waiting for His people to live holy and righteous lives. The people of God simply needed to impose the law upon themselves and the sinful people in their midst. When they did this, God would reward them by ushering in His Kingdom. The Jewish people would live in peace and prosperity...
The Story of Isolation
The Essenes too told the story of Roman Oppression. If they would retreat from the pagan culture, leaving behind the other apostate Jews, they would be able to create an alternate society of true believers in the caves and deserts. When they did this, God would reward them by ushering in His Kingdom. The Jewish people would live in peace and prosperity...
Many of these exact stories are told today; stories of progress and purity, or isolation, or rebellion. The Zealots were simply the ancient version of Al-Qaeda, bombing bridges and assassinating dignitaries. Many of these stories are even told in the Christian church; we isolate from our culture like modern day Essenes...