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Category Archives: faith

Governments Going Too Far

You have probably heard about this story already– Oregon Seizes Children From Parents Who Have Low IQ– and you may already taken sides on this issue. You can read about it here:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/oregon-seizes-children-from-parents-who-have-low-iq-192929/

While governments have a certain amount of rights guiding them concerning this issue there is a point where they can go too far.  I am not going to make this a Liberal thing for conservatives have been known to do the exact same thing here. They all think they get to decide for other people on different issues. That is not right. No laws were being broken here, the children were not in danger and no matter what opinion to the contrary any one holds, these people have the right to have and raise their own children.

We feel strongly that Christians should stand up for these parents because they are innocent people. Being mentally slow is not a biblical criteria to deprive anyone of having and raising their own family.  It i snot what the government thinks, it is not what some people think it is what God thinks that matters most and there are a host of verses that tell the believer how they should respond in this situation and those verses do not tell them to side with the government.  Obeying the government does not mean we ignore God’s words , commands or instructions. The government has to be held in account for their actions. If they are not then there is no telling how far they will go. One bad example is found in Ontario, Canada where the ruling administration has decided that it can pull children out of a home simply because the parents will not support the child’s misguided gender feelings.

That is evil at work not God’s government and we are to oppose evil not support it. The government does not have a divine right to go too far, even though they do. It was once said evil abounds if good men do nothing or something like that. Good people do need to stand up and oppose the government follow God’s leading when they do so. Not like the do in the emotional issues like abortion where they do picket lines and violent acts but with God leading the way. People like that couple need intelligent Christians to stand up for those parents’ rights and fight for them.

Christians have to lead the way to what is right not to blindly supporting the secular government who does not care about God, his people or his ways.

 

Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland

Printed, 1611.

{This information is taken from the AGES Electronic Library and placed here for educational and edification purposes only}

A DECLARATION, ETC.
 
WE believe and confess: —

1. That there are three which bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and

the Spirit; and these three are one God, in all equality: by whom all things are

created and preserved, in heaven and in earth. <620507>1 John 5:7; <501405>Philippians

2:5, 6; Genesis 1.

2. That this God in the beginning created all things of nothing, and made man

of the dust of the earth, in his own image, in righteousness and true holiness;

yet being tempted, fell by disobedience. Through whose disobedience, all men

sinned: his sin being imputed unto all; and so death went over all men.

<010101>Genesis 1:1; 2:7; 1:27; <490424>Ephesians 4:24; 3:1, 7; <450512>Romans 5:12, 19.

3. That by the promised seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, [and by] his

obedience, all are made righteous, all are made alive: his righteousness being

imputed unto all. <450519>Romans 5:19; <461522>1 Corinthians 15:22.

4. That notwithstanding this, men are by nature the children of wrath, born in

iniquity, and in sin conceived; wise to all evil, but to good they have no

knowledge. <490203>Ephesians 2:3; <195105>Psalm 51:5; <240422>Jeremiah 4:22. The natural

man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. <460214>1 Corinthians 2:14. And

therefore man is not restored unto his former estate. But that as man, in his

estate of innocency, having in himself all disposition unto good, and no

disposition unto evil, yet being tempted might yield, or might resist; even so

now being fallen, and having all disposition unto evil, and no disposition or

will unto any good, yet God giving grace, man may receive grace, or may

reject grace, according to that saying; I call heaven and earth to record this

day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and

cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.

<053019>Deuteronomy 30:19.

5. That God before the foundation of the world hath predestinated that all that

believe in him shall be saved, and all that believe not shall be damned; all

which he knew before. And this is the election and reprobation spoken of in

the scriptures, concerning salvation, and condemnation; and not that God hath

predestinated men to be wicked, and so to be damned, but that men being

wicked shall be damned. <490104>Ephesians 1:4, 12; <411616>Mark 16:16; <450820>Romans

8:20. For God would have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the

truth, and would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to

repentance, and willeth not the death of him dieth. <540201>1 Timothy 2:1, 2. <610309>2

Peter 3:9; <261832>Ezekiel 18:32. And therefore God is the author of no man’s s

condemnation according to the saying of the prophet; Thy destruction, O

Israel, is of thyself; but thy help is of me. <281309>Hosea 13:9.

6. That man is justified only by the righteousness of Christ, apprehended by

faith; yet faith without works is dead. <450328>Romans 3:28; <480216>Galatians 2:16;

<590217>James 2:17.

7. That men may fall away from the grace of God, and from the truth, which

they have received and acknowledged, after they have tasted of the heavenly

gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good

word of God, and of the powers of the world to come; and after they have

escaped from the filthiness of the world, may be entangled again therein, and

overcome. <581215>Hebrews 12:15; 10:26; 6:4, 5; <610220>2 Peter 2:20. That a righteous

man may forsake his righteousness, and perish. Ezekiel 24, 26. And therefore

let no man presume to think, that because he hath, or had once grace, therefore

he shall always have grace. But let all men have assurance, that if they

continue unto the end, they shall be saved. Let no man then presume; but let all

work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

8. That. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second Person or subsistence in the

Trinity, in the fulness of time was manifested in the flesh, being the seed of

David, and of the Israelites, according to the flesh, the Son of Mary the Virgin,

made of her substance, by the power of the Holy Ghost overshadowing her;

and being thus true man, was like unto us in all things, sin only excepted,

being one person in two distinct natures, true God, and true Man. <450103>Romans

1:3; Isaiah 5; <480404>Galatians 4:4; <420135>Luke 1:35; <580415>Hebrews 4:15.

9. That Jesus Christ is mediator of the new testament between God and man,

having all power in heaven and in earth given unto him, being the only King,

Priest, and Prophet of his church. He also being the only Lawgiver, hath in his

Testament set down an absolute and perfect rule of direction, for all persons, at

all times, to be observed; which no prince, nor any whosoever, may add to, or

diminish from, as they will avoid the fearful judgments denounced against

them that shall so do. <540205>1 Timothy 2:5; <402818>Matthew 28:18; <420133>Luke 1:33;

<580724>Hebrews 7:24; <440322>Acts 3:22; <662218>Revelation 22:18, 19.

10. That the church of Christ is a company of faithful people, separated from

the world by the word and Spirit of God, being knit unto the Lord, and one

unto another, by baptism, upon their own confession of the faith, and sins.

<460102>1 Corinthians 1:2; <490101>Ephesians 1:1; <470617>2 Corinthians 6:17; <461213>1

Corinthians 12:13; <440837>Acts 8:37; <400306>Matthew 3:6.

11. That though in respect of Christ the church be one, yet it consisteth of

divers particular congregations, even so many as there shall be in the world;

every of which congregation, though they be but two or three, have Christ

given them, with all the means of their salvation; are the body of Christ, and a

whole church; and therefore may, and ought, when they are come together, to

pray, prophesy, break bread, and administer in all the holy ordinances,

although as yet they have no officers, or that their officers should be in prison,

sick, or by any other means hindered from the church. <490404>Ephesians 4:4;

<401820>Matthew 18:20; <450832>Romans 8:32; <460322>1 Corinthians 3:22; 12:27; 14:23;

<600410>1 Peter 4:10; 2:5.

12. That as one congregation hath Christ, so hath all. And that the word of God

cometh not out from any one, neither to any one congregation in particular, but

unto every particular church, as it doth unto all the world. And therefore no

church ought to challenge any prerogative over any other. <471007>2 Corinthians

10:7; <461436>1 Corinthians 14:36; <510105>Colossians 1:5, 6.

13. That every church is to receive in all their members by baptism, upon the

confession of their faith and sins, wrought by the preaching of the gospel,

according to the primitive institution and practice. And therefore churches

constituted after any other manner, or of any other persons, are not according

to Christ’s testament. <402819>Matthew 28:19; <440241>Acts 2:41.

14. That baptism, or washing with water, is the outward manifestation of dying

unto sin, and walking in newness of life; and therefore in nowise appertaineth

to infants. <450602>Romans 6:2, 3, 4.

15. That the Lord’s supper is the outward manifestation of the spiritual

communion between Christ and the faithful, mutually to declare his death until

he come. <461016>1 Corinthians 10:16, 17; 11:26.

16. That the members of every church or congregation ought to know one

another, that so they may perform all the duties of love one towards another,

both to soul and body. <401815>Matthew 18:15; <520514>1 Thessalonians 5:14; <461225>1

Corinthians 12:25. And especially the elders ought to know the whole flock,

whereof the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. And therefore a church

ought not to consist of such a multitude, as cannot have particular knowledge

one of another. <442028>Acts 20:28; <600502>1 Peter 5:2, 3.

17. That brethren impenitent in any one sin, after the admonition of the church,

are to be excluded the communion of the saints. And therefore not the

committing of sin doth cut off any from the church, but refusing to hear the

church to reformation. <401817>Matthew 18:17; <460504>1 Corinthians 5:4, 13.

18. That excommunicants, in respect of civil society, are not to be avoided.

<530315>2 Thessalonians 3:15; <401817>Matthew 18:17.

19. That every church ought, according to the example of Christ’s disciples

and primitive churches, upon every first day of the week, being the Lord’s day,

to assemble together, to pray, prophesy, praise God, and break bread, and

perform all other parts of spiritual communion for the worship of God, their

own mutual edification, and the preservation of true religion and piety in the

church. <432019>John 20:19; <440242>Acts 2:42; 20:7; <461602>1 Corinthians 16:2. And they

ought not to labour in their callings, according to the equity of the moral law;

which Christ came not to abolish, but to fulfil. <022008>Exodus 20:8, &c.

20. That the officers of every church or congregation are either elders, who by

their office do especially feed the flock concerning their souls; or deacons,

men and women, who by their office relieve the necessities of the poor and

impotent brethren, concerning their bodies. <442028>Acts 20:28; <600502>1 Peter 5:2, 3;

<440601>Acts 6:1, 4.

21. That these officers are to be chosen when there are persons qualified

according to the rules in Christ’s testament, by election and approbation of that

church or congregation whereof they are members, with fasting, prayer, and

laying on of hands; and there being but one rule for elders, there-fore but one

sort of elders. <540302>1 Timothy 3:2, 7; <560106>Titus 1:6, 9; <440603>Acts 6:3, 4; 13:3;

14:23.

22. That the officers of every church or congregation, are tied by office only to

that particular congregation whereof they are chosen. And therefore they

cannot challenge by office any authority in any other congregation whatsoever,

except they would have an apostleship. <441423>Acts 14:23; 20:17; <560105>Titus 1:5.

23. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are written for our

instruction; and that we ought to search them, for they testify of Christ; and

therefore to be used with all reverence, as containing the holy word of God,

which only is our direction in all things whatsoever. <550316>2 Timothy 3:16;

<430539>John 5:39.

24. That magistracy is a holy ordinance of God; that every soul ought to be

subject to it, not for fear only, but for conscience’ sake. Magistrates are the

ministers of God for our wealth, they bear not the sword for nought. They are

the ministers of God, to take vengeance on them that do evil. That it is a fearful

sin to speak evil of them that are in dignity, and to despise government. We

ought to pay tribute, custom, and all other duties. Romans 13.; <610210>2 Peter 2:10.

That we are to pray for them; for God would have them saved, and come to the

knowledge of his truth. <540201>1 Timothy 2:1, 4. And therefore they may be

members of the church of Christ, retaining their magistracy; for no ordinance

of God debarreth any from being a member of Christ’s church. They bear the

sword of God; which sword, in all lawful administrations, is to be defended

and supported by the servants of God that are under their government, with

their lives, and all that they have, according as in the first institution of that

holy ordinance. And whosoever holds otherwise, must hold, if they understand

themselves, that they are the ministers of the devil, and therefore not to be

prayed for, nor approved, in any of their administrations; seeing all things they

do, as punishing offenders, and defending their countries, state, and persons by

the sword, is unlawful. That it is lawful in a just cause, for the deciding of

strife, to take an oath by the name of the Lord. <580616>Hebrews 6:16; <470123>2

Corinthians 1:23; <500108>Philippians 1:8.

25. That the dead shall rise again, and the living be changed in a moment;

having the same bodies in substance, though diverse in qualities. <461552>1

Corinthians 15:52; <183819>Job 38:19; 15:28; <422430>Luke 24:30.

26. That after the resurrection, all men shall appear before the judgment scat of

Christ, to be judged according to their works. That the godly shall enjoy life

eternal; the wicked, being condemned, shall be tormented everlastingly in hell.

<402546>Matthew 25:46.

 

Basic Bible Information

Introduction:

On this page we have included three articles from the Ages Electronic Library, the last two are taken from CLAVIS BIBLICA by Adam Clarke and the first one from The Heart of the Old Testament

by John R. Sampey, D.D., LL.D.

They are placed here for educational and instructional purposes to help you grow in your faith

I. A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF THE BIBLE

THE Bible is a history of Redemption. It is not a history of the world, nor even a

history of the Hebrew people. Whatever bears on the redemption of sinful man finds

a place in the Bible. All else, however interesting and valuable for other purposes, is

passed by in silence.

1. THE BEGINNINGS

The first eleven chapters of Genesis lie at the foundation of the Bible. They tell us that

God created the universe; that man, the crowning work of the creation, at first

enjoyed fellowship with God; that the old serpent tempted our first parents and led

them into sin, that God announced final victory to the seed of the woman in the long

struggle with the serpent; that sin grew among men until God felt impelled to destroy

all the race except one righteous family; that sin continued among the descendants of

Noah, the progenitor of all the families and nations of earth. This foundation section

of the Bible leads up to the birth of Abram, whom Jehovah elects to be a blessing to

all the world. It covers far more time than all the remainder of the Bible; perhaps far

more than the common chronology would suggest.

2. THE PATRIARCHAL PERIOD

God makes a new era to begin with Abraham, the father of believers. Rich

revelations of the character and purposes of Jehovah are made to Abraham and his

descendants. The inspired writer portrays the patriarch’s life and character vividly

and fully. In the history of redemption Abraham holds a large place. The lives of

Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are also exceedingly instructive. God waited a long time

while His plans were maturing, and then advanced His redemptive purpose rapidly

through the great patriarchs. Genesis is truly one of the world’s great books.

3. THE ERA OF MOSES AND JOSHUA

The family of Jacob had grown into a nation in Egypt. They are enslaved by the

Egyptians and sorely oppressed. Jehovah calls Moses to be the deliverer, leader,

and lawgiver of Israel. The character of Jehovah is revealed in much of its glory

through Moses. The chosen nation is placed under the dominion of righteous statutes

and ordinances. The ethical character of Jehovah becomes the model after which His

people are to shape their lives. Much redemptive teaching is wrapped up in the

symbols and types of the Mosaic Law.

Moses led Israel to the borders of the Promised Land. It was reserved for Joshua to

conquer Canaan and to assign to the various tribes their inheritance. The era began

with Israel in bondage in a foreign land; it closed with Israel in possession of a land

flowing with milk and honey. Israel is called to be a holy nation, and this chosen

nation are intrusted the oracles of God. Jehovah redeemed Israel by a mighty arm

from the bondage of Egypt. He claims Israel as His own personal property. He is

Israel’s king. Through Israel He wishes to reveal His character and purposes to all

mankind.

The life and work of Moses are described in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and

Deuteronomy. Joshua gives an account of the conquest of Canaan and of the

allotment of the land among the tribes of Israel. During this period the Pentateuch

was written.

4. THE PERIOD OF THE JUDGES

After the death of Joshua, heathenism repeatedly attacked and threatened to engulf

the religion of Abraham and Moses. Here we come to the Dark Ages of Israel’s

history. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Even the best men of the

time were on a plane far below that on which Moses and Joshua and their associates

had lived. It looked as if the knowledge of Jehovah’s character might fade from the

minds of men. But there were a few faithful souls who kept alive the knowledge of

the holy and merciful God, Samuel, the last of the Judges, became the first of a long

line of prophets. Under the guiding hand of Samuel a great revival breaks out, and

Israel comes into an era of political power and of moral and spiritual energy.

The story of the period is told in Judges, Ruth, and 1 Samuel 1-7. The Book of

Joshua was probably composed in this period.

5. THE UNITED KINGDOM

Under Samuel the transition from a pure Theocracy to a Constitutional Monarchy is

made. An earthly king is seated on Jehovah’s throne over Israel. When Saul proves

a failure, Jehovah chooses a man after His own heart and places David on the

throne. David as king becomes significant in the revelation of Jehovah’s redemptive

purpose. The promise of God attaches itself to David’s house. The Ideal King of the

future will be a second David.

Perhaps David’s harp was more important to the plan of Redemption than his

scepter. Through the many psalms which he composed he has brought men of all

succeeding ages into a closer fellowship with God.

Solomon contributed out of his stores of worldly wisdom many proverbs to guide the

young to success and honor.

The period of the United Kingdom was one in which real advance was made in the

redemptive plan of Jehovah. Prophets and psalmists and sages united in promoting

faith and morality and spirituality in Israel, Times of reaction and moral declension

may be traced in the later history of Israel, but never any long period in which Israel

is without prophets or other leaders to keep alive the knowledge of Jehovah.

The account of the events of this period is found in 1 Samuel 8 to 1 Kings 11; also in

1 Chronicles 10 to 2 Chronicles 9. Judges, Ruth, and 1 and 2 Samuel were probably

composed in this period; also many psalms and proverbs and the Song of Solomon.

6. THE DIVIDED KINGDOM

The taxes were heavy under Solomon. His foolish son refused to make them lighter,

and the northern tribes revolted. This brings us to the period of the Divided Kingdom

(931-587 B.C.). In 722 B.C., Samaria was captured by the Assyrians, and the

kingdom of Israel (or Ephraim) ceased to be. The kingdom of Judah was destroyed

by Nebuchadrezzar in 587 B.C. and the people carried captive to Babylonia. As

early as 605 B.C., captives were taken from Jerusalem to Babylon. Daniel and

others were carried into exile in that year. In 598 B.C. Jehoiachin and many of his

people were transported to Babylon.

The ministry of Elijah and Elisha in the Northern Kingdom made memorable the

period from 870 B.C. to 800 B.C. In Judah, Obadiah and Joel were probably

contemporary with Elisha. Jonah, shortly after 800 B.C., prophesied first to his own

people and then to heathen Nineveh. Amos (about 760 B.C.) thundered at Bethel

against the sins of Israel, and Hosea (about 750-725 B.C.) pleaded with Israel to

return to Jehovah. In Judah, Isaiah and Micah filled the period from 740 to 695 B.C.

with brilliant ministries. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah made prophecy a mighty

power in the eighth century B.C. To Isaiah it was given to picture the Messianic King

in His glory and to describe the character and achievements of the Suffering Servant

of Jehovah. Hezekiah, one of Judah’s best kings, led his people to turn from idols to

the worship of Jehovah. Isaiah and Micah found in him a sympathetic hearer.

With the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C., the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes passed away.

No doubt pious individuals of these tribes later united with their brethren of Judah, so

that the Ten Tribes were not wholly lost to history.

After the death of Hezekiah and Isaiah, Judah lapsed into gross idolatry under

Manasseh. There was a notable reformation under Josiah about 623 B.C. Jehovah

raised up a group of faithful prophets at this crisis. Nahum (about 640-630 B.C.)

announced the approaching downfall of cruel Nineveh. Zephaniah (about 630-625

B.C.) described the terrible day of Jehovah’s wrath against sin, but predicted that a

remnant both of Jews and Gentiles would be saved. Habakkuk (about 609-600

B.C.) gave voice to the longing for justice in a time of oppression. Jeremiah

commenced about 628 B.C. a faithful ministry that was continued in the face of

multiplied discouragements and dangers until after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

He announced the transition to a new era in which Jehovah would write His law, not

on tables of stone, but on the hearts of His people. He preached the doctrine of

individualism. God will deal with each person as a separate entity. The Kingdom of

God as represented by the people of Judah as a nation was about to go to pieces,

but only as a preparation for a higher stage in the history of Redemption. The

spirituality of the Kingdom of God received new and helpful interpretation from

Jeremiah. Long before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., Jeremiah had

committed to writing the substance of Jehovah’s messages through him. The roll of

his prophecies was completed in the early years of the Babylonian Exile. During the

discouraging experiences of the Exile devout men were heartened by his earnest

words, and the spiritual element kept alive the hope of ultimate victory for the people

of Jehovah.

During this long period the singers of Israel made additions to the Psalter, and the

sages continued to put forth proverbs embodying worldly wisdom. It is possible that

the author of the Book of Job lived in this period. Of the writing prophets, Amos,

Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah certainly belong in this

period; and it seems to the writer that Obadiah, Joel, and Jonah should be placed in

the early part of this period.

7. THE BABYLONIAN EXILE

As already stated, the Exile was a process beginning in 605 B.C. with the captivity

of Daniel and others, continuing with the captivity of Jehoiachin in 598 B.C., and

leading up to the great captivity at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

Ezekiel, a priest carried off with Jehoiachin in 598 B.C., was called to prophesy in

593 B.C. among the captives by the river Chebar in lower Babylonia. He continued

his ministry until 571 B.C. Through Ezekiel Jehovah emphasized the doctrine of

individual responsibility. Every man is treated justly, and every man is a separate’

entity before God. He may even break away from his own past life, and will be

judged as he is, and not as he was before he changed his course. Ezekiel is a

prophet of hope, picturing the growth of the kingdom of God in his image of the

stream of life-giving waters that issued from under the altar of God.

Daniel as a statesman and wise man gave his testimony before kings and courts. God

also made through him wonderful disclosures of the future struggles of Jehovah’s

people. Daniel teaches the doctrine of the resurrection of individuals to everlasting

life or everlasting shame, and gives a great promise to soul-winners.

During the Exile were composed the Books of 1 and 2 Kings; Jeremiah (completed),

Lamentations, and Ezekiel.

8. FROM THE RESTORATION TO THE MACCABEAN REVOLT

The return from captivity had been foretold by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. When

Cyrus conquered Babylon, he gave permission to the Jews to return to their own

land and to rebuild their temple. In 535 B.C. Zerubbabel led a company of about

fifty thousand exiles back to Palestine. The worship of Jehovah through sacrifice was

resumed, and plans were laid for rebuilding the temple; but, owing to opposition

from their heathen neighbors, the work was discontinued for fourteen years. Then

Jehovah sent Haggai and Zechariah, in 520 B.C., to stir up the spirits of the rulers of

the people to undertake the task of building the temple. The work was completed in

516 B.C., and the temple was dedicated with joy.

Many Jews remained in Babylon and Persia. The Book of Esther relates how, in the

reign of Xerxes (about 478 B.C.), the Jews of the world were threatened with

extermination, and how they were saved by the intercession of Esther.

In 458 B.C., Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to lead a caravan of Jews from Persia

to Jerusalem. Ezra came to Jerusalem and wrought important reforms among the

people.

In 445 B.C., Nehemiah, the cupbearer of Artaxerxes, asked permission to return to

Jerusalem and to rebuild the walls of the city. He accomplished his difficult task

speedily, in spite of many serious dangers. On his return from Persia, about 432

B.C., he wrought several important reforms in Jerusalem. He was a wise and

efficient governor. Ezra and Nehemiah coöperated to keep the Jews separate from

the heathen world, which threatened to assimilate them to its low religious and moral

life. Ezra and Nehemiah paved the way for the development of Judaism.

The prophet Malachi was probably contemporary with Nehemiah, as he attacks the

abuses which Nehemiah overthrew in Judah.

The Jews continued under the comparatively mild Persian rule until 331 B.C., when

they passed under the yoke of Alexander the Great. From 320 to 198 B.C. the Jews

were subject to the Ptolemies of Egypt. Then they became subject to Antiochus the

Great of Syria, and continued tributary to Syria until the revolt against Antiochus

Epiphanes in 167 B.C. Mattathias and his brave sons led their countrymen in a

desperate struggle for the right to worship God according to the laws of Moses.

They refused to become hellenized and heathenized.

During the period from 535 B.C. to 166 B.C. were composed the prophetic Books

of Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; the historical Books, 1 and 2 Chronicles,

Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther; also some Psalms, and probably Ecclesiastes, which

describes the lessons to be learned from Solomon’s experiences, Several of the

Apocryphal Books, such as Tobit and Ecclesiasticus, were also composed in this

period.

9. FROM THE MACCABEAN REVOLT TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS

For this period we are dependent upon sources other than the Bible. From 1

Maccabees and Josephus we learn that the Maccabees, after many battles, won

independence for the Jews. Native kings arid queens once more ruled over the

Jewish people. But in 63 B.C, Pompey captured Jerusalem, and in 37 B.C. Herod

the Great became king, and held the office until after the birth of our Lord. The

chronology computed in later times seems clearly to have put the birth of Jesus about

five years too late. Hence modern chronologers usually assign that event to 5 B.C.

During this period the Jewish sects developed, so that in the New Testament we

hear of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Judaism hardened into Pharisaic legalism.

10. THE LIFE OF OUR LORD JESUS

Here we come to the heart of the Bible. Fortunately the story is so familiar that we

do not need to repeat it. Our Lord’s public ministry probably lasted a little over three

years. After the early Judean ministry He passed through Samaria to enter upon the

great Galilean ministry, which took Him three times over that populous district. Then

He withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon and other districts around Galilee.

During the last six months He seems to have visited all parts of the land on both sides

of the Jordan. Then came the discourses of the last week, the crucifixion, the

resurrection, and after forty days the ascension.

Jesus wrote no books, but He promised the Twelve the gift of the Holy Spirit that

He might bring to their remembrance the words they had heard from His lips. Never

man spake like this man. Jesus Christ made atonement for sin on the cross. In Him

were fulfilled the Scriptures of the Old Testament. All the New Testament sets forth

His life and death and resurrection as the hope of the world. Whatever in the Bible

has no relation to Him may be safely ignored but take care lest the relation be missed

through inattention.

11. LABORS OF PETER AND OF HIS ASSOCIATES

(CHIEFLY AMONG THE JEWS.)

The most probable date for the ascension of our Lord is the late spring of 30 A.D.

Ten days later the Holy Spirit fell with mighty power on the disciples in the upper

room. In one day three thousand souls were converted to personal acceptance of

Jesus as Christ and Saviour. The progress of the revival thus begun is sketched in the

early chapters of the Acts. Of course, the adversary stirred up opposition and

persecution, but the church grew wonderfully. The believer found the gospel

sufficient for all his needs. Years passed by, The apostles seem to have forgotten the

command to make disciples of all the nations. Suddenly persecution becomes more

violent, and the believers are scattered abroad, preaching, however, as they journey.

God calls Peter to receive into the church the first Gentile converts. Presently others

are won at Antioch through the labors of other men. Meantime Saul of Tarsus has

been converted to the new faith. He is busy preaching and teaching in Cilicia, the

province in which he was born. Fourteen or fifteen years have passed away since

our Lord left the earth, and the time is ripe for a great ingathering of the Gentiles. The

gospel of Christ has been tested by many, and it has stood the test.

12. MISSIONARY LABORS OF PAUL AND OF HIS ASSOCIATES

(GENTILES AND JEWS.)

Barnabas, seeing that there was a great door opened in Antioch, went forth to

Tarsus to seek Saul. He found his man and brought him face to face with a great

opportunity. These were busy days in Antioch. Presently the Holy Spirit designated

Barnabas and Saul for work on a wider field. Then follows the great missionary

journey to Cyprus, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. Many converts are won from among the

Gentiles. Now the question is raised whether Gentiles becoming Christians should

not also become Jews and keep the law of Moses. At the Council in Jerusalem in

A.D. 50, Gentile freedom was won, largely through the efforts of Paul and Barnabas.

About 48 or 50 A.D., it is supposed, James wrote his Epistle.

In A.D. 51-54 followed the second missionary journey. Paul and Silas were called

into Macedonia, and thence into Greece. From Corinth, in A.D. 52 or 53, Paul

wrote the two letters to the Thessalonians.

During the period from A.D. 54 to A.D. 58, Paul was engaged in the third

missionary journey, spending much time at Ephesus. Toward the close of this

campaign he wrote a group of great letters, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and

Romans. This group belongs to the years 57 and 58 A.D.

Finally Paul falls into the hands of his enemies, and lies in prison at Cæsarea for two

long years. Then he goes to Rome as a prisoner. During his confinement in Rome he

probably wrote Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians, another group of

great letters.

It seems that Paul finally was released, and had opportunity to resume his missionary

labors. But once more he was arrested, about A.D. 67, and is said to have suffered

martyrdom in A.D. 68. During his last imprisonment he wrote 1 Timothy, Titus, and

2 Timothy. Hebrews is probably not directly from the hand of Paul, although

reminding one a good deal of the great Apostle. It was probably composed between

60 and 70 A.D.

1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter probably date from 65 to 67 A.D.

Mark, Matthew, and Luke probably wrote the Gospels bearing their names before

A.D. 70, though some good scholars think them later.

13. CLOSING LABORS OF JOHN AND OF HIS ASSOCIATES

When Peter and Paul passed away, John, the beloved disciple, became easily the

foremost Christian in the world. He was great and influential while these mighty men

lived, but he seems to have been willing to yield to Peter as spokesman. John is said

to have lived to a ripe old age in Ephesus. For a while he was exiled to Patmos.

Between A.D. 80 and A.D. 95 he probably wrote the Gospel of John, the three

Epistles of John, and the Revelation. The heart of God is revealed in these writings.

They form a fitting close and climax to the revelation contained in the Bible. The

ultimate triumph of Christ over all foes is predicted in the Revelation. God’s plan of

redemption will not fail. The Son of God shall reign forever. Satan shall be locked up

in the bottomless pit, no more to tempt the saints.

The Bible is a unity. The style and manner of each book contain elements that give it

a right to a place in God’s great Book. Every part of the Book contains the red

blood of Redemption. The Bible is an organism. Cut it and it will bleed. It contains

the progressive revelation of God’s will. Holy men wrote it as they were borne along

by the Spirit of God.

II. PRINCIPLES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION

1. There Is One God, who is self-existing, uncreated, infinitely wise,

powerful, and good: who is present in every place; and fills the heavens,

and earth, and all things. Now, as THIS ONE God is eternal, that is, without

beginning or end, and is present everywhere, and fills all space, <234406>Isaiah

44:6-8, there can be only ONE such Being; for there cannot be two or more

eternals, or two or more who are everywhere and fill all things. To suppose

more than one supreme Source of infinite wisdom, power, and all

perfections, is to assert that there is no supreme Being in existence. A

plurality of eternal beings would resemble a plurality of universes,

eternities, and infinite spaces; all which would be contradictory and absurd.

<234406>Isaiah 44:6, 7, 8.

2. This one infinite and eternal Being is a Spirit: i.e., he is not compounded,

nor made up of parts; for then he would be nothing different from matter,

which is totally void of intelligence and power. And hence he must be

invisible; for a spirit cannot be seen by the eye of man: nor is there any

thing in this principle contradictory to reason or experience. We all know

that there is such a thing as the air we breathe, as the wind that whistles

through the trees, fans and cools our bodies, and sometimes tears up

mighty trees from their roots, overturns the strongest buildings, and agitates

the vast ocean; but no man has ever seen this air or wind, though every one

is sensible of its effects, and knows that it exists. Now it would be as

absurd to deny the existence of God, because we cannot see him, as it

would be to deny the existence of the air or wind, because we cannot see it.

As to reason and sense, the wind is known to exist by the affects which it

produces, though it cannot be seen; so God is known by his works; and a

genuine Christian is as conscious that this divine Spirit works in,

enlightens, and changed his heart, as he is that he breathes the air, and feels

the action of the wind upon his body; and is either chilled, cooled, or

refreshed, by its breezes. <430424>John 4:24; 3:8.

3. In this God there are found three persons, not distinctly or separately

existing; but in one infinite unity; who are termed Father, Son, and Spirit; or

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; all existing in the

one infinite and eternal God; neither being before or after the other, neither

being greater or less than the other. These three divine persons are

frequently termed among Christians, The Trinity. <620507>1 John 5:7; <420322>Luke

3:22.

4. This God is the Creator, Governor, and Preserver of all things: all

creatures, animate and inanimate, owe their being to him; and by him they

are all supported. <430103>John 1:3; <160906>Nehemiah 9:6.

5. The works of creation show God to be infinitely powerful, wise, and

good. His power is seen in the vastness or magnitude of his works; his

Wisdom is seen in the skill and contrivance so evident in each, and in the

whole; and his Goodness is seen in the end for which each has been

formed: for he has made all intelligent and animate beings capable of

happiness; and he has so contrived their bodies, minds, and different parts,

as well as the things by which they are surrounded, that this happiness is, in

general, within their reach. <19A424>Psalm 104:24.

6. Man is one of the chief works of God. His soul was created in the image

of God, i.e., in righteousness and true holiness: and his body was formed

out of the dust of the ground. There was no imperfection in his body, a

machine of the most complicate, curious, and difficult contrivance: and no

sinfulness in his mind; for God, who is all perfection, could make nothing

that is imperfect; and He who is infinitely holy could make nothing that is

impure. <010127>Genesis 1:27.

7. But from this state of perfection and purity man fell, by his disobeying

the commandment of God; and so became liable to sickness, death,

corruption, and dissolution in his body; and became ignorant, sinful, and

vicious in his soul; which imperfections and sinful propensities he

communicated to all his posterity: for as the stream must ever be the same

with the fountain from whence it flows, so all generations of men must

necessarily have the same kind of nature with those from whom they are

descended. Adam, the first man, was made in the image and likeness of

God; but, when he sinned, he lost that divine image; and then, when he

begat children, it is said in the sacred writings that he begat them in his own

image, <010503>Genesis 5:3, i.e., sinful and corrupt like himself. And in this state

all human beings that are born into the world are still found: and their sinful

dispositions lead them unto sinful practices; so that the whole human race

are fallen, and all are sinners against God and their own souls. <191403>Psalm

14:3.

8. God, who is infinitely good, showed his mercy to fallen, sinful man by

promising him a Savior who was to come in that time which God should

see to be the most suitable. <010315>Genesis 3:15.

9. This Saviour was no less a person than the Lord Jesus Christ, who in

that suitable time was to take upon him the nature of man, by assuming a

human body; which he subjected to death, that he might make a sacrifice

and atonement for all those who were partakers of the same nature, i.e., for

the Whole Human Race. <400121>Matthew 1:21, 28; <580209>Hebrews 2:9.

10. Jesus Christ, as man, could suffer and die; as God, he was incapable of

either, but it was necessary that his human nature should suffer in order to

make an atonement; and it was necessary that his Deity should be united

with that humanity, in order to make its suffering of infinite value, that

thereby a suitable atonement might be made for the sins of the world. <600318>1

Peter 3:18.

11. The law which God gave to men was given to human nature. That

nature transgressed this law; on that nature, therefore, divine justice had a

claim; and from it that justice had a right to demand satisfaction. To have

destroyed that human nature existing at the time of the transgression in the

first human pair only, would have been inconsistent with the innumerable

purposes of divine justice, mercy, and providence; therefore God permitted

them to live and propagate a posterity upon the earth: but in his infinite love

he found out a Redeemer for this fallen nature. But this Christ or Redeemer

took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, that is,

human nature, that in the nature which sinned he might make the expiation

required. <580216>Hebrews 2:16.

12. It was also necessary that this Redeemer should be infinitely divine and

perfect; as the end of his great undertaking was not only to purchase pardon

for a world of offenders, but to merit eternal happiness for mankind. Now

an infinite happiness cannot be purchased by any price less than that which

is infinite in value; and infinity of merit can only result from a nature that is

infinitely divine or perfect. <510117>Colossians 1:17.

13. Accordingly we find that, about 4000 years after the creation, this Jesus

Christ was born in Judea, of a virgin, whose name was Mary, in whose

womb his human nature was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost;

and about thirty-three years afterward, having wrought multitudes of

miracles, the most astonishing and beneficent, and preached that heavenly

doctrine called the gospel or good news, he gave up his life at Jerusalem as

a sacrificial offering for the lives of all mankind. He was buried; rose again,

by that divine power which could not suffer death, on the third day,

according to his own predictions; and gave commission to his disciples,

(holy men to whom he had taught the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,)

to go into all the world, and preach his gospel to every creature; which they

and their successors have done, and are doing: and by these means

Christianity has been spread and established in the earth; and will finally

prevail in every nation of the world according to his own most positive

declarations. <420211>Luke 2:11; <235309>Isaiah 53:9; <540206>1 Timothy 2:6; <411615>Mark 16:15.

14. God has assured mankind that there is and can be no salvation but

through Jesus Christ: that for the sake, and on the account, of his sacrificial

sufferings and death he can forgive sins; and on no other account will he

show mercy to any soul of man. <490107>Ephesians 1:7.

15. As all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are

consequently exposed to endless punishment, and no man can make an

atonement for his own soul, God has commanded all who hear the gospel

to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, to believe on him as having died

for them, and to believe that his sufferings and death are a sufficient

sacrifice for their sins; and, consequently, to offer this sacrificial death of

the Lord Jesus Christ as a ransom price for their souls, <411616>Mark 16:16.

16. But it is not likely that any person will feel his need of Jesus Christ as

his Savior, unless he feel that he is sinful, guilty, and cannot help himself:

hence the Holy Scriptures require men to repent; that is, to turn from and be

deeply sorry for their transgressions, to mourn and be distressed for having

sinned against God, and to implore his mercy through Christ Jesus, by

fervent and continued prayer. <440319>Acts 3:19; 18:30.

17. Scripture gives no hope to any man, that his sins can be blotted out, or

his soul saved, by anything he can do, or has done, or by any sufferings

through which he can possibly pass: every man, therefore, must come to

God through Christ, to be saved by free grace and mere mercy alone.

<450324>Romans 3:24; <490208>Ephesians 2:8.

18. When a sinner comes thus to God, with a broken and contrite heart,

believing and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, God

freely pardons him; and he knows and feels that he is pardoned, because his

darkness and distress are all taken away; and the Spirit of God bears

witness with his spirit that he is a child of God: this God has promised;

and, therefore, it is the privilege of every Christian to know that his sins are

forgiven him for Christs sake: and of this fact there are thousands of living

witnesses in the Christian church. Let it ever be remembered that genuine

faith in Christ will ever be productive of good works; for this faith worketh

by love, as the apostle says, and love to God always produces obedience to

his holy laws. <450505>Romans 5:5; 8:16.

19. Pardon or forgiveness of sin implies that the mans guilt is taken away;

and that he is no longer in danger of falling into endless punishment: but it

does not imply that the evil of his nature is wholly removed; for this is a

separate work of Gods mercy. <450501>Romans 5:1; 8:1.

20. Hence God promises his Holy Spirit to sanctify and cleanse the heart,

so as utterly to destroy all pride, anger, self-will, peevishness, hatred,

malice, and every thing contrary to his own holiness. <520523>1 Thessalonians

5:23; <450813>Romans 8:13; <263625>Ezekiel 36:25-27.

21. The work of pardon on the conscience is called Justification; the work

of holiness in the heart is termed Sanctification: these two comprise the

whole salvation of the soul in this world. He who is completely sanctified,

or cleansed from all sin, and dies in this state, is fit for glory. <660305>Revelation

3:5.

22. Let it be therefore remembered, that Repentance must go before

Justification; that Justification must go before Sanctification; and that

Sanctification must go before Glorification. Consequently, he who does not

repent and forsake sin can not be justified; he who is not justified cannot be

sanctified, and he who is not sanctified cannot be glorified.

23. As the grace that produces any of these states may be lost through sin,

or carelessness; hence the necessity that the true penitent should continue to

watch and pray till he is justified that, when justified, he should continue to

watch and pray, and deny himself, and take up his cross, till he is sanctified;

and, when sanctified, he should continue the same course, believing, loving,

and obeying, till he is glorified. As he will be in danger as long as he lives

of falling from grace, so he should continue to watch and pray, believe, and

maintain good works, as long as he breathes; for while thus employed,

humbly trusting in the Lord Jesus, he cannot fall. <460927>1 Corinthians 9:27;

<610218>2 Peter 2:18; <411438>Mark 14:38; 13:37; <610210>2 Peter 2:10.

24. Jesus Christ has ordained only two sacraments, or religions

ceremonies: The first Baptism, by which we enter into his church; and the

second the Lords Supper, often called the Sacrament, by which we continue

members of his church. The former implies being dipped in, or sprinkled

with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy

Ghost. The water is an emblem of the cleansing and purifying influence of

the Holy Spirit; and the whole of the act itself signifies a consecration of the

person to the endless service and glory of the ever blessed Trinity, that is,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in whose name he has been baptized.

The

second or holy sacrament is an emblem of the sacrificial death of Christ; the

Bread which is used signifying his Body that was crucified, and the Wine

his Blood that was shed for the sins of the world. But the bread and wine

are only emblems of this body and blood; not changed into that of our

blessed Lord, as some have erroneously imagined. He, therefore, who

receives the holy sacrament professes thereby that he expects salvation only

through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

<402802>Matthew 28:29; 26:26, 27, 28.

25. The body is mortal, and must die and mingle with the earth, out of

which it was made: but it shall be raised again by the power of Christ, in

what is called the Resurrection from the dead. But the soul is immortal, and

can neither die nor perish; but in the resurrection the body and soul shall be

again united, both of the just and of the unjust. <580927>Hebrews 9:27; <461551>1

Corinthians 15:51, 52; <430528>John 5:28, 29; Ecclesiastes 13:7.

26. After the resurrection comes the general Judgment, in which God shall

render unto every man according as his works have been: those who have

lived and died in sin shall be sent into hell, and be thus for ever banished

from God and the glory of His power: those who have here received the

grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and have been faithful unto death, shall be

brought into the kingdom of glory, and be eternally with the Lord. <430529>John

5:29; <660210>Revelation 2:10.

27. In the interim, from death to the resurrection, all souls shall be in a state

of conscious existence; the wicked having a foretaste of the misery that

awaits them, and the good having a foretaste of the blessedness which is

prepared for them. But neither can be supremely happy or wretched till the

souls are joined to their respective bodies; otherwise a day of judgment

would be rendered unnecessary: for as the works for which they shall be

punished or rewarded were done in the body; so they must be joined to

their bodies before they can be capable of bearing the due degree of

punishment, or enjoying the fulness of eternal glory. <422343>Luke 23:43.

28. Those who, at the day of judgment, are sentenced to punishment shall

never escape from perdition; and those who are taken to glory shall never

fall from it. Both states shall be eternal. <402546>Matthew 25:46.

29. The Bible, from whence the above principles are drawn, is a revelation

from God himself; and declares his will relative to the salvation of men.

The words contained in it were inspired by the Holy Spirit into the minds of

faithful men, called Prophets and Seers in the Old Testament; and

Evangelists and Apostles in the New. These all spoke as the Spirit gave

them utterance. <661201>Revelation 12:19; <610121>2 Peter 1:21.

30. This Bible, or the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, are the

only complete guide to everlasting blessedness: men may err, but the

Scripture cannot; for it is the Word of God himself who can neither

mistake, deceive, nor be deceived. <550316>2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

31. From this Word all doctrines must be derived and proved; and from it

every man must learn his duty to God, to his neighbor, and to himself.

<230820>Isaiah 8:20.

32. We have, therefore, three grand gifts, for which we should incessantly

magnify God: First, His Son, Christ Jesus. Second, The influence of his

Holy Spirit. And, Third, His blessed word <620410>1 John 4:10; <421113>Luke 11:13;

<430539>John 5:39.

33. This word shows us that God is Love: that he hateth nothing that he

hath made; that he is loving to every man, and is not willing that any should

perish, but that all shall come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.

<620416>1 John 4:16; <19E509>Psalm 145:9.

34. It shows us that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man, and that the

whole human race may believe in him to the saving of their souls.

<580201>Hebrews 2; <540206>1 Timothy 2:6; <261803>Ezekiel 18:33; <263302>33:2; <610301>2 Peter 3:19.

35. It shows us that God sends his Holy Spirit into the hearts and

consciences of all men, to convince them of sin, righteousness, and

judgment; and that his light is to be found, even where his word has not yet

been revealed. <430119>John 1:19; <431608>16:8, 9, 10, <450214>Romans 2:14.

36. On this ground the Bible informs us, God will judge the heathen who

have never been favored with this divine revelation. Those who have acted

conscientiously, according to the dictates of this heavenly light in their

minds, shall not perish eternally; but have that measure of glory and

happiness which is suited to their state; while those who have acted contrary

to it shall be separated from God and happiness for ever. <450212>Romans 2:12;

<421247>Luke 12:47, 48 <441034>Acts 10:34.

37. By this light even the heathens are taught the general principles of right

and wrong; of justice and injustice: not to injure each other: to be honest and

just in their dealings; to abhor murder, cruelty, and oppression; and to be

charitable and merciful according to their power. <430109>John 1:9; <450214>Romans

2:14

38. Those who have been favored with divine revelation shall be judged

according to that revelation. They have received much, and from them

much shall be required; for the Bible assures us that those who have the

gospel, and do not obey it, shall be punished with an everlasting separation

from the presence of God, and the glory of his power, in that place of

misery where their worm, the accusation and self-reproaches of a guilty

conscience, shall never die; and their fire, the instrument of the torment,

shall never be quenched. <530109>2 Thessalonians 1:9; <410944>Mark 9:44.

39. Thus we find that God will judge the heathen by the law which he has

written in their minds; and he will judge the Jews by the law which he has

given them by Moses and the prophets; and he will judge the Christians by

the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he has given them by the evangelists and

apostles; and he will judge the Mohammedans according to the

opportunities they have had of knowing the gospel, and the obstinacy with

which they have rejected it. And this will be an aggravation of the

punishment of the Jews, Mohammedans, and other unbelievers, that the

gospel which would have made them wise unto salvation, has been rejected

by them; and they continue blasphemously to deny the Lord that bought

them.

40. As the sacred Scriptures were mercifully given to man to promote his

present as well as his eternal happiness; hence they contain directions for

every state and condition of life: on husbands and wives, parents and

children, masters and servants, they enjoin mutual love, affection,

obedience, and fidelity. To governors and the governed they prescribe their

respective duties; kings and magistrates, as the representatives of God, they

enjoin to use their authority for the protection and comfort of the people: the

people they command to love, honor, obey, and pray for their secular

rulers;, to submit to those laws which are formed for the peace, good order,

and prosperity of the state; and to hold in abhorrence every thing that might

tend to disturb the peace of the community. In a word, they require all men

to love their neighbor, every human being, as themselves; and in all

circumstances to do unto others as they would that others should do unto

them.

<400712>Matthew 7:12; <421031>Luke 10:31; <450301>Romans 3:1-7; <490521>Ephesians

5:21 -33; 6:1-9; <510318>Colossians 3:18-25; <540201>1 Timothy 2:1-3; <560201>Titus 2:1-6

<560301>3:1, 2; <600301>1 Peter 3:1-7; <600501>5:1-5.

41. From the foregoing principles we see that whatsoever is worthy of the

infinite perfections of the One Eternal Being and whatsoever is calculated to

produce the present and everlasting happiness of mankind, is taught in the

Bible; and that these truths have never been fully nor clearly taught, and

most of them not at all, in any system of religion which has been adopted

by even the wisest of the heathen nations; that where this book of divine

revelation has been received, there is found the greatest portion of wisdom

and true greatness; and the largest share of political, domestic, and personal

happiness; and that none in such nations are wretched, ignorant, or

miserable, but those who do not obey its dictates.

42. As this religion positively commands its professors to love God with

all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and their neighbor, any and

every human being, as themselves, hence it is the duty of all Christian

nations and people to exert themselves in every possible and reasonable

way to send this glorious light of revelation to all the nations of mankind

who have not yet received it; and while they continue to use that prayer

which Jesus Christ has mercifully taught them, in which is contained this

petition, Thy kingdom come, they should keep a constant eye on the

condition of the heathen, and labor to send them that gospel so essential to

their peace, their comfort, and their happiness.

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that

believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall he

damned. <411616>Mark 16:16.

And I saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the Everlasting

Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth; and to every nation, and

kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and

Give Glory to Him. <661406>Revelation 14:6, 7.

III. DIRECTIONS FOR PROFITABLY READING THE

WORD OF GOD

Having thus laid down at large the principles of the Christian religion, and

the reasons on which they are founded, and given a general view of that

divine revelation from which they are extracted, it may be necessary to give

a few directions to those who seriously ask the question, How may we

profit most, and grow wise unto salvation, by reading the sacred writings? I

answer:

1. Deeply consider that it is your duty and interest to read the Holy

Scriptures.

2. When you read, consider that it is Gods Word which you read; and

that his faithfulness is pledged to fulfill both its promises and

threatenings.

3. Read the whole Bible, and read it in order; two chapters in the Old

Testament and one in the New, daily if you can possibly spare the time;

and you will have more time than you are aware of; if you retrench all

needless visits, and save the hours spent in useless or unimportant

conversation.

4. Think that the eye of God is upon you while you are reading his

word: and read and hear it with that reverence with which you would

hear God speak, were he to address you as he did the prophets and

people of old; for, be assured, that he considers it as much his word

now as he did when he first spoke it.

5. Remember that the word of God is not sent to particular persons, as

if by name; and do not think you have no part in it, because you are not

named there. It is not thus sent: it is addressed to particular characters;

to saints, sinners, the worldly minded, the proud, the unclean, the

dishonest, the unfaithful, liars, Sabbath-breakers, the penitent, the

tempted, the persecuted, the afflicted, &.c., &c.

6. Therefore examine your own state, and see to which of these

characters you belong, and then apply the word spoken to the character

in question to yourself; for it is as surely spoken to you as if your name

were found printed in the Bible, and placed there by divine inspiration

itself.

7. When, in the course of such reading, you meet with a threatening,

and know from your own state that this awful word is spoken against

you, stop, and implore God, for the sake of the sufferings and death of

His Son, to pardon the sin that exposes you to the punishment

threatened.

8. In like manner, when you meet with a promise made to the penitent,

tempted, afflicted, &c., having found out your own case, stop, and

implore God to fulfill that promise.

9. Should you find, on self-examination, that the threatening has been

averted by your having turned to God; that the promise has been

fulfilled, through your faith in Christ; stop here also, and return God

thanks for having saved you from such sore evils, and brought you into

such a glorious state of salvation. Thus you will constantly find matter

in reading the book of God to excite to repentance, to exercise faith, to

produce confidence and consolation, and to beget gratitude; and

gratitude will never fail to beget obedience. He who reads the Bible in

this way must infallibly profit by it.

10. It is always useful to read a portion of the Scriptures before prayer,

whether performed in the family or in the closet. In doing this, mark

some particular passages, that they may become a subject for your

petitions; by attending to this, all formality and sameness in this sacred

duty will be prevented; and you will have an abundance of materials for

petitions, supplications, thanksgiving, &c. And thus your prayers will

never be tedious, unsatisfactory, or unedifying, either to yourself or to

others.

11. Remember that in reading, you keep the eye of your mind steadily

fixed upon Him who is the end of the law, and the sum of the gospel;

for even the Holy Scriptures can make you wise unto salvation only

through faith in Christ Jesus. <550315>2 Timothy 3:15.

12. Let the Scriptures, therefore, lead you to that Holy Spirit by which

they were inspired: let that Spirit lead you to Jesus Christ, who has

ransomed you by his death. And let this Christ lead you to the Father,

that he may adopt you into the family of [God. FINIS.]

 

Basic Christian Doctrines

Introduction:

The following information is taken from the book: Anders, M. E., & Anders, M. E. (1998). 30 days to understanding the Christian life in 15 minutes a day (p. 11). Nashville: T. Nelson.

and is not to be mistaken for deep theological teaching. These excerpts are placed here as an introduction only and it is advised that our readers get solid Christian books on biblical doctrine for further study and growth.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE BIBLE

The story of the Lady Be Good is a microcosm of life. We are all on the Lady Be Good, and we are all in flight. In making the determination on where and when to land we have to make decisions. And for those decisions we must choose whether we look outside ourselves . . . whether we trust our gut-level hunches or whether we look for an instrument panel.

The Bible offers itself as the source of truth. The Bible presents itself as the great, cosmic “instrument panel.” It tells us where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. It is up to us to decide whether we accept the “readings” we get from it.

The Bible does not defend itself. It was written to people who accepted its message and therefore spends little time convincing its readers of its authenticity. Charles Spurgeon once said, “The Bible does not need to be defended any more than a caged lion needs to be defended. All we need to do is let it out of its cage, and it will defend itself.”

The fundamental assertion that the Bible makes concerning itself is that, in spite of the human collaboration in the writing of it, the Bible is a revelation of God to man, it was written without error, and it can be trusted to reveal truth to us regarding God, man, life, and death…

God made known to man that which He wanted man to know. Some of the information related to present-day instruction on how to live and be rightly related to God and one’s fellow man. Other information related to prophetic statements about the future….

Gaining a deeper grasp of the Bible is a two-way street. It is true that it will not happen unless the Holy Spirit illumines the mind of the Christian, but neither will it happen unless the Christian is diligent in pursuing biblical knowledge. The more the Christian reads and studies the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit will illumine his or her mind, which encourages the student to read and study further…

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD

God is not to be found in the laboratory. He cannot be proved. But then, love is not to be found in the laboratory. Neither is courage, nor longing, nor hope. God is to be found in the courtroom. While data cannot be garnered to prove His existence, evidence can be amassed to demonstrate the probability of His existence. There is a gap between the probable and the proved. But then, few things can be proved to the unbelieving mind. Unbelief never has enough proof…

If you look for God in the laboratory, you will not find Him. If you look for Him in the courtroom, the amount of evidence can be very satisfying—enough to give a reasonable doubt about a universe without Him and make it reasonable to believe in Him.

In a scientific culture, some are reluctant to believe in a being they cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. However, God cannot be dealt with in the laboratory.  He must be dealt with in the courtroom. It is impossible to generate proof of His existence, so we must look for evidence of His existence. While the Bible simply assumes that God exists, it also provides excellent evidence, so that believing in His existence is an intellectually reasonable thing to do…

God is a personal being, and as such has individual characteristics that distinguish Him from all other beings. These characteristics are called “attributes.” Some of His attributes are shared by mankind, since God created man after His personal image. These are called “personal” attributes. He has other characteristics, however, which go beyond man and are true of Him alone. These are the attributes that define “deity” and are called “divine” attributes. We will look more closely at them later…

God is all powerful and has the ability to do whatever He wills. This sovereignty is only exercised in harmony with His goodness, righteousness, and other attributes, and it extends to the entirety of creation for all time. In His sovereignty, He has determined everything that has happened and will happen, and yet has done so in such a way that man has true “volition,” or choice. This is one of the mysteries, or “unexplainable” things, of Scripture…

Another mystery of the Scripture is the Trinity. The Bible says distinctly that there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4). But it also seems to say with equal clarity that there was a man, Jesus Christ, who claimed equality with God the Father, and there is someone called the Holy Spirit who is also equal with God the Father. How do you put that together? Historically, the concept has been termed the “Trinity.” There is one God who exists in three persons. While it is impossible to give an illustration of the Trinity, the evidence remains and has been embraced as a fundamental teaching of Christianity from the beginning…

THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST

Attitudes about Jesus are varied and often are strongly held. From denying that a person named Jesus of Nazareth ever existed to believing that He was God incarnate, people demonstrate their conviction about Him by ignoring Him or worshiping Him.

Perhaps the most popular concept of Jesus is that, while He was not divine, He was a great moral teacher and leader. While He is no more God than you or I, He is a wonderful example to follow…

The position of the Bible is straightforward in presenting Jesus as divine, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He is fully man and fully God. If He were not man, He could not have died for our sins, and if He were not God, His death would have accomplished nothing.

To understand the Bible’s position on Jesus, it must be grasped that Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the Savior of the world who was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, who would come to die for the sins of the world and who would come again to establish righteousness in a new heaven and new earth…

Though Jesus was man, He was also God. The second member of the Trinity existed before He was born as Jesus of Nazareth. Christ was active in the creation of the world and during the Old Testament. When the timing was right, the Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth but did not forfeit His divinity at any time…

Though Jesus was God, He was also a man. Christ took on the form of humanity, and though He did not sin He tasted all other human experiences, including hunger, fatigue, and sorrow, etc. He was supernaturally conceived, was born of a virgin, and lived a fairly normal early life as a carpenter’s son in Nazareth of Galilee. As a man, He was crucified, died, and was buried.

The picture of the Messiah in the Old Testament was an uncertain one. Some of the prophetic passages spoke of a humble-servant Messiah, while other passages spoke of a glorious and powerful king. So stark was the contrast between these two kinds of passages that some Old Testament scholars thought there would be two Messiahs. With the additional revelation in the New Testament, we now know how to reconcile these passages. Jesus came the first time as a humble servant and died for the sins of mankind. After He was resurrected, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. Some day in the future, and according to biblical prophecy it could be soon, Jesus will return to earth as a powerful and glorious king to institute righteousness on the earth.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We all have shortcomings and weakness. We all want to be more than we are. But we need help. Sometimes we need information. Sometimes we need assistance. Sometimes, we need to be challenged or confronted to change. This is a primary role of the Holy Spirit . . . to work with us in a mystical sort of way to become Christians and then to grow as Christians. He transforms us from what we were like in the past to what we should be like in the future. He is a friend, indeed, because He knows all about us and loves us anyway. He commits Himself to us to help us change . . . to be the sort of man or woman we long to be deep down in our souls…

The Holy Spirit is sometimes perceived as the religious equivalent of school spirit. This is not accurate. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is treated as a person and given the attributes of personality, such as emotions, actions, intellect, and relationships…

Not only is the Holy Spirit a personal being, He is also divine. He possesses divine attributes, such as omnipresence and omnipotence. He performed miracles only God could do, such as the creation of the world and the miraculous conception of Jesus. In addition, He is associated on an equal plane with the other members of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit plays the instrumental role in the personal salvation of individuals who become Christians. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to see our sinfulness and realize that we should turn from sin. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us see that, in order to become Christians, we must believe in Jesus, ask Him to forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life, and commit our lives to living for Him.

God wants to use each of us to minister to others. The Holy Spirit gives us a special spiritual “gift” to minister to others. It is something we enjoy doing and something at which we are effective. However, since God is working through us with this gift, the results must always be attributed to Him and not to ourselves. We must guard against two imbalances. We must not become discouraged if our results are meager, and we must not become inflated if our results are abundant. For in the true exercise of spiritual gifts, it is God who produces the results, whether meager or abundant.

THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS

Mr. Graham also tells the story of John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One evening, natives surrounded the missionary compound with the intent of burning down the compound and killing Mr. Paton and his wife. The missionaries prayed fervently all night and were surprised and relieved to witness the natives leaving the next morning.

A year later, the chief of the hostile tribe was converted to Christianity. He told the Patons that he and his tribe had fully intended to destroy the compound and kill the Patons that fateful night a year ago but had been stopped by the army of men surrounding the compound. “Who were all those men you had with you there?” the chief asked. “There were no men there; just my wife and I,” replied Mr. Paton. The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard—hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack.

Again, angels?

When the brilliant scholar Mortimer Adler undertook to edit Great Books of the Western World for the Encyclopedia Britannica Company, he included “Angels” as one of the great themes. Personally curious, Mr. Adler went on to write a book on angels, and in doing so, discovered that from before Aristotle’s time to the present day, scholars and philosophers have taken angels seriously.

It is difficult to prove the existence and work of angels. They are not usually perceived by our five senses and are therefore not subject to scientific scrutiny. Nevertheless, they are found throughout the Bible, interwoven into many of the major events of Scripture…

Bible teaches that God uses a numberless army of angels to help execute His will in heaven and earth, and that among their duties is ministering to Christians. Perhaps this is where the concept of guardian angels came from. They are personal beings, spirits that God created before Adam and Eve, and are not “ghosts” of people who have died…

The Bible teaches that a large number of the “righteous angels” rebelled against God and now form an evil army under the command of the devil, who uses them to further his will, which is counter to the will of God. This corruption is often referred to as the “fall ” of these angels.

The Bible teaches that Satan was originally the highest angel, but because of pride he fell, rebelling against God and leading many lesser angels to rebel against Him also. In doing this he became evil and corrupt. He is a real entity who oversees the forces of darkness in the world and seeks to neutralize and overthrow the will of God.

In the Bible, Satan is called the deceiver and the destroyer. He deceives in order to destroy. A primary strategy is to make that which is wrong look right and that which is right look wrong. The Bible teaches that protection from Satan is available to the Christian. These spiritual defenses will be dealt with in greater detail later

THE DOCTRINE OF MAN

If the full power of the human mind were manifested by an individual, the world would assume that person was a god. The power of the brain is beyond comprehension. Scientists estimate that the most brilliant among us use perhaps 10 percent of its capacity. Yet that might be wildly overstated when we ponder glimpses of its potential…

The indications from Scripture suggest that man’s capacity before the fall and his capacity once restored and glorified in heaven are unimaginable. Someone once wrote that if we were to see our glorified selves walking down the street toward us, we would be tempted to fall at our feet and worship ourselves. Such is the future of humanity in Christ…

Man’s purpose is to “know God and enjoy Him forever.” Man was created in perfect fellowship and harmony with God, in His image. This does not mean physical likeness, for God does not have a physical body. But it means in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual likeness of God…

Man is spiritual as well as physical. Man’s earthly physical body is destined to die. The moment he is born, the process is set in motion for him to die. His spirit, however, lives forever and transcends his physical limitations. After man dies, he receives a new body that lives forever

Man possesses intellect, emotion, and will. With intellect he can know, reason, and think. With emotion he can feel, empathize, and experience. With will he can choose. These are all characteristics of God and, as such, are part of the “image of God” within man. They also separate man from the animals. In addition, man has the capacity for self-awareness, an awareness of God, an awareness of afterlife, and the ability to envision life in the future under different scenarios such as heaven and hell, etc. Man certainly has characteristics that overlap with the animals, but his capacities not only go beyond those of animals, he has capacities that no animals have…

Though man’s spirit inhabits a body at all times, that body changes after death on earth.  A new body is received, depending on his destiny, in which he will continue to live forever…

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN

When it comes to sin, we’re a little like the pigs. The smell of sin doesn’t seem so bad to us. We don’t even notice a lot of it. But to God, it smells like a thousand pigs that were kept in His living room for the winter.

Man does not and cannot grasp the awfulness of sin to the degree God does. But for two reasons we must try to grasp as much as we can. First, sin is harmful to us; it is self-destructive. All sins are boomerangs; they come back to hurt us every time. Second, sin grieves God, and if we hope to live a life pleasing to Him, we must try to live a life of righteousness…

All that is good, right, and pleasant comes from God. Anything that does not come from God is the opposite. By definition, it must be bad, wrong, and unpleasant. We are creatures who sin. When we do, we bring bad, wrong, and unpleasant things into our lives, we diminish the reputation of God as His children, and we decrease the interest the non-Christian world might have in God because they do not see the difference between being Christian and not being Christian…

All the pain, all the evil, all the suffering that is in the world, that has ever been in the world, and that will ever be in the world can be traced back to one event: when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden. Because of the cataclysmically negative effects of that event, it has been referred to as the fall of man…

Sin entered mankind, and now all men are corrupted with sin. It is not that man is not capable of doing good (for certainly some people do wonderful things), or even that he is as bad as he could be (many people could be much worse than they are). It is just that he cannot keep from doing that which is bad, because his essential nature has been corrupted. David said, “in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). This does not mean that his mother sinned, but that all men are born sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners…

Man’s heart has been corrupted, and therefore he commits individual, personal sins. Some of these sins are sins of commission (things we ought not to do, but do) and some are sins of omission (things we ought to do but don’t). They may be tangible acts, or they may be deficient attitudes, motives, or perspectives. When we compare ourselves with other people on external things, we might not do so badly. But when we compare ourselves with Jesus, who had no imperfections in act, thought, motive, word, or deed, we see that we fall short…

THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION

In studying the matter of man’s destiny, we actually overlap with our overview of the Doctrine of Salvation. We saw earlier that man has a spirit as well as a body and that he will live forever in heaven or hell. The immediate concern, then, is what determines his destiny? The Bible appears to teach that children who die before the age of accountability, that is, the age at which they have the intellectual capacity to accept or reject God, go to heaven. After they reach that age, if they do not accept God’s salvation before they die, they will go to hell. How, then, does man avoid that destiny? What is the basis of God’s salvation?

There are several commonly held beliefs about how to get to heaven. One belief suggests that if no really terrible sins are committed, God will overlook the small ones. Another suggests that if your good works outweigh your bad works at the end of your life, you will make it to heaven. Still another suggests that God will line up all the people in the world who ever lived, from the worst to the best, and divide that line in half. The worst go to hell, and the best go to heaven. All these beliefs are incorrect. Good and bad works have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you go to heaven…

We cannot earn our salvation. We are imperfect, and we cannot make ourselves perfect. Yet God demands perfection. Therefore, all we can do is cast ourselves on God’s mercy. In His mercy, God offers to forgive our sin and give us a new nature of holiness so that we can be in perfect relationship with Him. The completion of that relationship is not realized until we die and we shed the “body of sin” in which we live. God’s offer has one condition: that we believe in and receive Jesus as our Savior…

God’s solution to man’s inherent dilemma is to offer him forgiveness of his sins and to give him a new nature that is not flawed. Man still languishes under the impact of sin until his flawed body dies and he receives a new body. Then he is free to serve God forever in heaven in undiluted righteousness…

Sin brings death. Since all have sinned, all have died, spiritually, and are separated from God. Jesus was without sin, and He willingly died with the understanding that His death could count as a substitution for our own. If you believe in Jesus and receive Him as your personal Savior, God will then count His death for yours and give you eternal life…

Man is body and spirit. Upon becoming a Christian, a person’s spirit is born again and he is given eternal life. His body, at that point, remains unchanged. It is corrupted by sin, is susceptible to disease and death, and is inclined to sin. The brain, which is part of the physical body, is still encumbered with old programming that is counter to biblical truth. Because of this, the Christian experiences a continuous struggle between the new inner man who wishes to serve God and the outer man who feels the pull to sin (see Romans 7). This conflict continues until the death of the body, at which time the spirit of the Christian is transported immediately to heaven to receive a new body, untouched by sin. (Rom. 8:23)

Fortunately, until our salvation is completed with “the redemption of the body,” when we sin after having become a Christian “we have an advocate with the Father,  Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God does not want us to sin, but He recognizes that as long as we are in this body, we will. When we do, He cleanses us. The death of Christ on the cross was sufficient for all our sins, past and future. God is continuously working in our lives, however, to lead us to a more righteous lifestyle. If we resist this work of God, He chastens us, as any loving father would a child, to correct inappropriate behavior…

THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

The Church is to be the physical representation of Christ on earth now that He has returned to heaven. What Christ said, we are to say. What Christ did, we are to do. The message Christ proclaimed, we are to proclaim, and the character Christ manifested, we are to manifest. The world can no longer see Christ living on earth. He is removed, physically, though He lives in the hearts of His children. Because the world can no longer see Christ living on earth, it should be able to get a pretty good idea of Christ by looking at His Church.

The Church is a wonderfully important institution that has fallen into some disregard in the United States lately, even among Christians. It happened partially because many in the mainline denominations abandoned the historic fundamentals of the faith for a form of Christianity that denied the very things that were distinctive to Christianity. When that happened, the church lost its justification for its existence, and attendance began to drop precipitously.

Then a remnant church exerted itself; it was made up of largely newer denominations and independent churches as well as some churches and denominations that had held firm or renewed themselves. The renewed churches disdained the theological shallowness of churches that had denied their faith and, as a result, they “threw the baby out with the bath water.” Out with the theological shallowness went deep respect for tradition, church authority, and the clergy…

The Universal Church, also called the Body of Christ (Col. 1:24), refers to all people in all parts of the world who have become Christians since the beginning of the Church and who will become Christians before Christ returns. The Church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and will culminate when Christ returns. Christ is the head of the Church (Col. 1:18), and the Universal Church is to be the representation of Christ on earth, collectively doing His will…

The church is not a building, but people. At any given time and place, Christians are to band together to carry out the responsibilities of the Universal Church. As such, they organize to govern themselves, select spiritual leaders, collect money for ministry, observe baptism and communion, exercise church discipline, engage in mutual edification and evangelism, and worship God…

Leadership in the local church is invested in pastor-teachers, elders, and deacons and deaconesses. The Scripture appears to give freedom as to how this leadership is organized and functions, but it is quite specific about the spiritual qualifications. Only spiritually mature people are to be given high positions of spiritual leadership in the church…

When a person becomes a Christian, he or she immediately and automatically becomes a member of the Universal Church, the Body of Christ. Throughout church history, local churches have had varying requirements for membership that range from very limited to very strict. This appears to be a point of freedom given local churches in the Scripture. An important point, however, is that everyone should be a part of a local church. God never intended for Christians to try to make it alone. Placing oneself under spiritual authority and in mutual ministry with others is essential to spiritual health…

THE DOCTRINE OF FUTURE THINGS

The Bible presents a picture of a future that is difficult to imagine. Power, glory, wealth, and honor are ours. But in large measure, we must wait until we get to heaven to experience it. For now, the limitations of earth are very much with us. Until we cross the Atlantic, the life of Lord Fauntleroy will have to wait.

The information the Bible presents about Future Things is sketchy. The prophetic information in the Bible is not given to satisfy our innate curiosity about the future, but to encourage us to live like royalty while we are still here on earth. It is given, not to impact our curiosity, but our lifestyle.

Therefore, while the information is incomplete as to details we might desire to know, it is adequate for us to take our present life seriously. We are royalty with a celestial inheritance, but we are presently misplaced…

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, buried, and resurrected about A.D. 30. He ascended into heaven, where He has remained for the last two thousand years. At some time in the future, and from prophetic information it could be at any time, He will return to earth. When He does, it will not be as a carpenter’s son but in power and glory, revealing His true cosmic sovereignty. During His first visit to earth, He came as a servant with an emphasis on His humanity. During His second visit to earth He will come as a king, emphasizing His deity…

At two different times and places, God will conduct audiences with all humanity to confirm our eternal destiny. Those who believed in Jesus and received Him will then be confirmed to eternity in heaven with Him. Those who did not believe in Him and receive Him will be confirmed to eternal separation from Him in hell…

The present universe was flawed with sin at the time of the “fall” of man. While much of nature is beautiful, much of it is also destructive and uninhabitable. The universe will be destroyed with an apocalyptic cosmic fire and replaced with a new universe and a new earth that will have no harmful features…

Jesus will reign in absolute righteousness. Only goodness and beauty will exist. Believers will rule with Him forever as vice-regents. They will govern angelic beings. They will be beings of beauty and power who will participate in glorious celestial ceremonies. Believers themselves will receive much personal glory by the grace and goodness of God, as well as spend generous time worshiping and praising God. Intellect, beauty, power, and talent will be virtually limitless as believers both serve Jesus the King and rule with Him in a world that progressively glorifies God and brings great joy and individual satisfaction…


 

Pharisees, Sadducees & Essenes

There are 7 articles on this page

This section will provide different articles on the differences between the Pharisees, Sadducees & Essenes. It will also provide a little history to each group as well as provide documentation for one theory on the ‘scribes’ mentioned by Jesus.

#1http://www.gotquestions.org/Sadducees-Pharisees.html

The Sadducees: During the time of Christ and the New Testament era, the Sadducees were aristocrats. They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and they held the majority of the 70 seats of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin…Religiously, the Sadducees were more conservative in one main area of doctrine. The Pharisees gave oral tradition equal authority to the written Word of God, while the Sadducees considered only the written Word to be from God. The Sadducees preserved the authority of the written Word of God, especially the books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy). While they could be commended for this, they definitely were not perfect in their doctrinal views. The following is a brief list of beliefs they held that contradict Scripture:

1. They were extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God’s involvement in everyday life.

2. They denied any resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8).

3. They denied any afterlife, holding that the soul perished at death, and therefore denying any penalty or reward after the earthly life.

4. They denied the existence of a spiritual world, i.e., angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

The Pharisees: In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees were mostly middle-class businessmen, and therefore were in contact with the common man. The Pharisees were held in much higher esteem by the common man than the Sadducees. Though they were a minority in the Sanhedrin and held a minority number of positions as priests, they seemed to control the decision making of the Sanhedrin far more than the Sadducees did, again because they had the support of the people.

Religiously, they accepted the written Word as inspired by God. At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, this would have been what is now our Old Testament. But they also gave equal authority to oral tradition and attempted to defend this position by saying it went all the way back to Moses. Evolving over the centuries, these traditions added to God’s Word, which is forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:2), and the Pharisees sought to strictly obey these traditions along with the Old Testament. The Gospels abound with examples of the Pharisees treating these traditions as equal to God’s Word (Matthew 9:14; 15:1-9; 23:5; 23:16, 23, Mark 7:1-23; Luke 11:42). However, they did remain true to God’s Word in reference to certain other important doctrines. In contrast to the Sadducees, they believed the following:

1. They believed that God controlled all things, yet decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life.

2. They believed in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6).

3. They believed in an afterlife, with appropriate reward and punishment on an individual basis.

4. They believed in the existence of angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

#2http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-sadducees-and-vs-pharisees/

Sadducee was a Jewish sect; in fact, a socio-political group that was prominent during 3rd and 2nd century BC and which was characterized by its elite and priestly class. This group of Jews disappeared after the destruction of the Temple, and even the literature written by prominent writers of this group got destroyed with this destruction…Sadducees believed only in the written Law of Moses and did not approve Oral Torah. They did not believe in after life and opposed priesthood to be given to any other class of people other than themselves.

Pharisee was a socio-political group among the Jews that was made up of common people. This class of people was prominent during the Hasmonean Dynasty…Because of the weight of the oral Torah among the group, this group became prominent after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The modern Judaism traces its roots to this group or class of people that was referred to as Pharisee…

#3http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/sadducees_pharisees_essenes.html

The Essenes

A third faction, the Essenes, emerged out of disgust with the other two. This sect believed the others had corrupted the city and the Temple. They moved out of Jerusalem and lived a monastic life in the desert, adopting strict dietary laws and a commitment to celibacy.

The Essenes are particularly interesting to scholars because they are believed to be an offshoot of the group that lived in Qumran, near the Dead Sea. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd stumbled into a cave containing various ancient artifacts and jars containing manuscripts describing the beliefs of the sect and events of the time.

    The most important documents, often only parchment fragments that had to be meticulously restored, were the earliest known copies of the Old Testament. The similarity of the substance of the material found in the scrolls to that in the modern scriptures has confirmed the authenticity of the Bible used today.

#4http://www.thenazareneway.com/pharisees_sadducees_and_essenes.htm

Essenes

The Essenes were a Jewish religious sect not actually mentioned in the Bible, but described by Josephus, Philo, and mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most members lived communal, celibate lives. They observed Jewish Law very strictly. They practiced ceremonial baptisms. Essenes were apocalyptic, and they opposed Temple priesthood.

Pharisees

The Pharisees were a prominent sect of Jews in Christ’s time. They opposed Jesus and His teachings. They plotted His death (Matt 12:14). They were denounced by Him (Matt 23). Their characteristic teachings included: belief in oral as well as written Law; resurrection of the human body; belief in the existence of a spirit world; immortality of the soul; predestination; future rewards and punishments based upon works. Matt 9:11-14; 12:1-8; 16:1-12; 23; Luke 11:37-44; Acts 15:5; 23:6-8.

Sadducees

The Sadducees were another prominent Jewish religious sect in the time of Christ. Their beliefs included: acceptance only of the Law and rejection of oral tradition; denial of bodily resurrection; immortality of the soul; existence of a spirit world (Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). They supported the Maccabeans. The Sadducees were a relatively small group, but they generally held the high priesthood. They denounced John the Baptist (Matt 3:7-8) and Jesus (Matt 16:6,11,12). They actively opposed Christ (Matt 21:12ff; Mark 11:15ff; Luke 19:47) and the apostolic Church (Acts 5:17,33).

…The Sanhedrin did not, and could not, originate charges. It only investigated those brought before it. It is quite true that judgment upon false prophets and religious seducers lay with it…

Without entering on the principles and supposed practices of ‘the fraternity’ or ‘association’ (Chebher, Chabhurah, Chabhurta) of Pharisees, which was comparatively small, numbering only about 6,000 members, [a Jos. Ant. xvii. 2. 4.] the following particulars may be of interest. The object of the association was twofold: to observe in the strictest manner, and according to traditional law, all the ordinances concerning Levitical purity, and to be extremely punctilious in all connected with religious dues (tithes and all other dues). A person might undertake only the second, without the first of these obligations. In that case he was simply a Neeman, an ‘accredited one’ with whom one might enter freely into commerce, as he was supposed to have paid all dues. But a person could not undertake the vow of Levitical purity without also taking the obligation of all religious dues. If he undertook both vows he was a Chabher, or associate….

#5http://www.bible-history.com/pharisees/PHARISEESOrigin.htm

During the time of Zerubbabel and Ezra there was a clear call to separation from foreigners and anything unclean. Some verses that clearly indicate separation during this time period is:

Ezra 6:21 “Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel.”

Neh 9:2 “Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.”

Although it is not absolutely clear when the name of “Pharisees” had actually been given to a religious group within Judaism, it seems like during these early times there were those who had intended to preserve the Law by having a stricter view of uncleanness, not only from the uncleanness of the heathen but from that with which they believed had affected the great portion of Israel.

As the priests and scribes were attempting to determine the inner development of Judaism after the captivity they apparently became more and more separated from the ways of the foreigners as the Lord had prescribed.

Sometime during the Maccabean period, groups within Judaism had sharply contrasted with each other and two religious parties were developed from them. The Sadducean party came from the ranks of the priests, the party of the Pharisees from the scribes. The Pharisees were more concerned with legal issues and the Sadducees with their social position.

It appears that during the Greek period, the chief priests and rulers of the people began to neglect the law; the Pharisees united themselves and became an association that made a duty of the law’s meticulous observance…

The Pharisees

“Pharisee” is from a Greek word (pharisaios) taken from the Heb/Aramaic “Perisha” meaning “Separated one.” In the time of Jesus the Pharisees were one of the three chief Jewish sects, the others were the Sadducees and the Essenes. Of the three, the Pharisees were the most separated from the ways of the foreign influences that were invading Judaism, and from the ways of the common Jewish people in the land…

The sect of Pharisees is thought to have originated in the 3rd century B.C., in days preceding the Maccabean wars, when under Greek domination and the Greek effort to Hellenize the Jews, there was a strong tendency among the Jews to accept Greek culture with its pagan religious customs. The rise of the Pharisees was a reaction and protest against this tendency among their fellow kinsmen. Their aim was to preserve their national integrity and strict conformity to Mosaic law. They later developed into self-righteous and hypocritical formalists. Later they were among those who had condemned Jesus to death…

The Mishnah, compiled by the Patriarch Judah (200 A.D.), which is the final work of these rabbis, began a final work in the history of Jewish scholarship. It is a monument of Pharisaic scholarship and a testimony to the final triumph of Pharisaism, which now is compiled into the Talmud which has become synonymous with Judaism….

About The Sadducees?

Probably the name ‘Sadducee’ is derived from the name Zadok, a notable priest in the time of David and Solomon (2 Samuel 8:17; 15:24; 1 Kings 1:34). His descendants long played the leading part among the priests, so that Ezekiel regarded them as the only legitimate priests (Ezk 40:46, 43:19, 44:15, 48:11). About the year 200 B.C., when party lines were beginning to be drawn, the name was chosen to point out the party of the priests. That is not saying that no priest could be a Pharisee or a Scribe. Neither is it saying that all the priests were Sadducees. In the time of Jesus many of the poor priests were Pharisees. But the higher priestly families and the priests as a body were Sadducees. With them were joined the majority of the aristocratic lay families of Judaea and Jerusalem. This fact gives us the key to their career. It is wrapped up in the history of the high priesthood. But in Jesus’ time its leadership lay far back in the past. Its moral greatness had been undermined.

The Levitical priesthood was a close corporation. No man not born a priest could become a priest. More and more, as the interests of the nation widened and deepened, the priesthood failed to keep pace. Its alliance with the aristocratic families made thing worse. The Sadducees did not deny the immortality of the soul. But they lingered in the past, the period when the belief in immortality was vague, shadowy, and had not yet become a working motive for goodness. The Sadducees also denied the Pharisaic doctrine regarding angels and ministering spirits (Acts 23:8 — “For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”)..

About The Essenes?

In the life of a modern nation a great war has large results. Far greater were the effects of the Maccabaean War upon a small nation. The Essenes appear as a party shortly after the war. It is not necessary to suppose that at the outset they were a monastic order. It is more likely that they at first took form as small groups or brotherhood of men intent on holiness, according to the Jewish model. This meant a kind of holiness that put an immense emphasis on Levitical precision. To keep the Torah in its smallest details was part and parcel of the very essence of morality..

The groups of men who devoted themselves to the realization of that ideal started with a bias against the Temple as a place made unclean by the heathenism of the priests. So these men, knit into closely coherent groups, mainly in Judaea, found satisfactions of life in deepening fellowship, and an ever more intense devotion to the ideal of Levitical perfection. In course of time, as the logic of life carried them forward into positions of which they had not at first dreamed, the groups became more and more closely knit, and at the same time fundamentally separatistic regarding the common life of the Jews. So we find, possibly into the 1st Century B.C., the main group of Essenes colonizing near the Dead Sea, and constituting a true monastic order..

The stricter Essenes adjured private property and marriage in order to secure entire attention to the Torah. The Levitical laws of holiness were observed with great zeal. An Essene of the higher class became unclean if a fellow-Essene of lower degree so much as touched his garment. They held the name of Moses next in honour to the name of God. And their Sabbatarianism went to such lengths that the bowels must not perform their wonted functions on the Seventh Day..

At the same time, there are reasons for thinking that foreign influences had a hand in their constitution. They worshipped towards the sun, not towards the Temple. This may have been due to the influence of Pharism. Their doctrine of immortality was Hellenic, not Pharisaic. Foreign influences in this period are quite possible, for it was not until the wars with Rome (circa 70 AD) and the Diaspora had imposed on Judaism a hard-and-fast form, that the doors were locked and bolted. Yet, when all is said, the foreign influence imparted nothing more than minor modifications in Essen Doctrine. Its innermost nature and deepest motive were thoroughly Jewish…

About The Scribes?

The scribes were the writers, copyists, ‘bookmen’ and consequently the interpreters of the sacred writings of the Old Testament, as their professional occupation gave them unusual familiarity with these books. Among the forerunners of the scribes were also to be reckoned ‘wise’ teachers of Israel who produced and handed on a body of oral teaching and eventually the compendium of Wisdom Literature..

After the Exile, the scribe tended to take the place of the priest as teacher of the Law. In the Gospels the scribes are sometimes referred to as ‘lawyers’, i.e. Experts in the sacred Mosaic Law which was in theory the sole legislation, civil and religious, governing the Jewish people. They were usually associated with the Pharisees. Many of the scribes became members of the Sanhedrin, the highest legal administration body in the Jewish theocratic state. Among them were Gamaliel in Ac 5, Nicodemus in Jn 3 and 7. They sat ‘on Moses’ seat’ (Mt 23:2) as official interpreters of the Law. They had the power of ‘binding and loosing,’ i.e. Of issuing authoritative judgments or decisions upon the legality or illegality of actions..

Their services, both educational and judicial, were rendered freely and without compensation. Unless he possessed independent means the scribe had to earn a livelihood in other ways and then teach as an avocation. It has been suggested that the rule grew out of the danger of bribery, cited in Ex 23;8 and Dt 16:19 {where ‘judges’ were ordered not to accept fees or gifts}.
#7. The Scrolls and The Scribes of the New Testament by Joseph H. Dampier, Bulleting of the Evangelical Society 1.3 (Summer 1958): 8-19
 

The following are excerpts from this journal article

… This does not answer the question of the silence of the New Testament on these contemporary religious movements or sects. A possible solution to this problem is that Qumran and/or the Essenes may have been known under more than one name and that they are present in the New Testament under a different name than in Josephus and Philo….

… The first question that must be answered is whether the Scribes were a party or a profession. In the Old Testament the Soferimwere writers, keepers of the records, and in some cases evidently official recorders. The LXX translated this as Scribe grammateus. By the time the New Testament was written, writing must have been a more general skill, and the word ‘scribe’ had taken on other meanings. That some had become teachers and lawyers and doctors of the law is not to be denied. But, that the word did not have a single meaning is indicated by such terms as “Scribes of the Pharisees” (Mk. 2:13-17, Lk. 5:27-32) and “Scribes of the people” (Matt. 2:4). The inter-testament period may have worked a change in the use of the word…

… The term ‘scribe’ in the New Testament does not refer to a trade or profession of copying manuscripts or acting as amanuens is for illiterate sections of the population. It is rather obvious that the term ‘scribe’ is never used to describe in any way these activities, but the term itself grammateus would indicate at least such an origin for the word; but, of [p.9] course, the use of a term at any given time is not necessarily the same as the origin of the same word. We use the term ‘Mason’ (Freemason) for group that are not now connected with the building trades, but we still continue to use it for those who are so employed…

… The scribes appear in the Synoptics about fifty-five times,1 The term does not appear in John except in John 8:3. The term is only used five times in the rest of the New Testament. In nine of the fifty-five appearances of the Scribes in the Synoptics Scribes and Pharisees are identified together…

… In ten instances this group is linked with the priests, chief priests, elders, etc. But, with the exception of the one instance of the nativity (Matt. 2:4), this relationship always appears after the triumphal entry…

… Scribes alone without alliances appear ten times in the Synoptic accounts. (It should be noted here that the discrepancy of the above numbers is due to some variation of terminology in the Gospel accounts.)…

… First: It is almost always in the plural form. This was not true in the Old Testament where it was usually in the singular. The plural would indicate a group name. Second: It appears with a frequency that would indicate a party. In the Synoptics the Pharisees appear 64 times; the Sadducees 8; and the Herodians 3; but the Scribes appear 61 times. This is even more significant when compared with the more common profession: Publicans 22 times; husbandmen 14 times; fishers or fishermen 5 times, and merchants 5 times. The frequency of appearance would indicate a group far more numerous than would be likely for a professional group…

… Fifth: The Scribes were known not as writers but as teachers (Mk. 1:22 and Matt. 7:29), with a developed and recognized system of [p.10] instruction and doctrines that were peculiarly their own. (Matt. 17:10 and Mk. 9:11) “Elijah must first come” is attributed to Scribal doctrine. Sixth: In Matt. 5:2 Jesus demands a righteousness that shall exceed the Scribes and Pharisees. Why name two groups if these groups had a doctrinal identity? And, why do so and leave out other parties and groups whose standard of righteousness he also condemned on other occasions?…

… Eighth: The Scribal party seems to have been known among the church fathers, for evidence is found for it in several of them. ORIGEN―(Tr 24 in Matth and in Matth 13 52 ed H. 1, 1, P. 218) “The Scribes do not deviate from the letter of the Law, but the Pharisees, who separated from others because they thought themselves much holier, pretend to interpret it.”

EPIPHANIUS―(Epih. Haer 1, 1 H. 15) “He makes of the Scribes a particular sect for which he hath been blamed by the critics who knew no other scribes but those who had a public employ in the Synagogue.” In Panarion he lists a number of Judaistic sects. The first three are Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees, in that order.

RECOGNITIONS OF CLEMENT. (Recognition 1. 1, C54) Characterizes the Scribes as a particular sect of the Jews.

ST. JEROME―Refers to Shommay and Hillel as heads of two sects of Scribes and Pharisees.

…Epiphanius in the Third Century said that the Essenes had been known under various names…

…A comparison of the teachings and condemnations of Jesus that were particularly directed to the Scribes rather than the Pharisees shows us a community whose doctrinal and community life is also found in the Manual of Discipline and other documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls…

… [p.12] Second: The practice of Lustration or Baptism attributed to the Scribes is found in the Qumran Community. (Mk. 7:1-23 and Matt. 15:1-20)…

… Would this not indicate that at least a part of the group who raise the question about washing of hands were those who practiced a form of self-immersion and also cooking vessels, and that the Damascus Document and the Manual of Discipline indicates the same practice? To this should also be added the archaeological evidence of purification indicated in the excavation at Khirbet Qumran.

The Essenes seem to have had such a custom because Hippolytus said that if they touched a member of any other sect they immediately washed. Both Scribes and Essenes were self-baptizers. This differs from both the baptism of John and Christian baptism because these require a baptizer…

… [p.13] Third: The teaching of the Scribes concerning the nature of evil appears in the Qumran Community…

… Fourth: The organization of the community explains the denunciation of the Scribes in the last public discourse of Jesus. Mk. 12:38-40, Matt. 23: 1-39 and Lk. 20:45-47…

… [p.14] Mark and Luke direct this at the Scribes alone, while Matthew would seem to include Pharisees in at least part of it. The denunciation of this group includes a number of things that would seem to find likeness in the Qumran community…

… The Christ also denounces the Scribes for seeking chief seats (Mk. 12:38 and Lk. 20:46) It is condemned as hypocrisy rather than bad manners. The matter of seating was of vital importance to the community…

…The scribes are denounced for making long prayers. [p.15] The Manual of Discipline provides: “The masters shall keep watch together a third of all the nights of the year, reading the book and searching for justice and worshiping together.” (378) The Scribes are denounced as those who compass sea and land to make a proselyte. If this does not mean making a gentile a proselyte to Israel, then the entire Qumran community is one that is built up by a system of proselytism. The denunciation against devious oaths is connected with the system. “He shall take it upon himself by a binding oath to turn to the law of Moses.” (377) Did they have oaths that were not considered binding?///

… Fifth: In Mark 12:28-38, a Scribe raises the question of the greatest commandment of the Law. All the religious parties are here represented. The Pharisees and the Herodians try to trap Jesus on the question of tribute money. The Sadducees with their case of a woman with seven husbands (Matthew) apparently see the Scribes and Pharisees uniting on the question of the greatest commandment, but Mark identifies it as a Scribal question… The Qumran community had such a doctrine, “The Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel,” (383 etc.) If the Messiah was to be of Aaron, then he would be of the tribe of Levi; but if he was of the house of David, he would be of Judah…

… Sixth: When the Scribes appear to question him in Galilee, why designate them as being from Jerusalem? (Matt. 15:1, Mk. 3:22 and 7:1),

Seventh: A Scribe offers to follow Jesus (Matt. 8:19). Jesus warns him that the “foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests but the Son of [p.16] Man has not where to lay his head”. Does this mean that a Scribe had security that he would have to renounce if he followed Jesus? Perhaps a monastery and a community with communal wealth?…

… This shift can be logically explained if we accept the premise that Scribes were a separate party. Not only that, but if we accept the possibility of an identity of the Scribal party with the Qumran community it is a very probable arrangement. That the devotion to scrupulous details of the Law of Moses and the devotion to Sabbath keeping and other ceremonies are common to Pharisees and the Qumran community goes without saying. It can perhaps be safely assumed that the doctrinal affinity of the community would be with the Pharisees…

…[p.17] Ninth: While many explanations might be found, it is one of the peculiarities of John’s Gospel that Scribes do not appear under that name. This is, unless you count John 8:3…

… The preceding implications based upon the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest the possibility that the Essenes were, as some have suggested, a combination of parties with each party having its own name and peculiar doctrines and government. If this is accepted, then the Scribes might be one of a number of such groups….

… The third suggested solution by many competent writers is that the Essenes, Pharisees, etc. were all parties that grew out of the ‘Hasidim’, “the pious ones”. About sixty of these were murdered by Alcimus, who has been suggested as the “wicked priest”. There is also the suggestion that an anonymous member of the sixty was the “teacher of righteousness”, but the interesting point in the discussion of the idea of a scribal party is that in I Mac. 7:12 the term ‘scribes’ is used of the same people that are called Hasidim. While we may infer that the Essenes were originally ‘Hasidim’, we have here a statement that directly connects the Scribes with the Hasidim…

… [p.18] This claim that the Koraites were originally scribes, lawyers, and doctors of the law coupled with such obvious likeness to the government of the Qumran sectaries needs further investigation. Particularly in light of the fact that while Prof. Millar Burrows does not believe that the Koraites were of such ancient origin as to have produced the Dead Sea Scroll, he does see evidence that the Damascus Document probably had Koraite origin. And, since the Koraites were in possession of documents that were supposed to have come from a cave near Jericho in the ninth century, he adds this interesting paragraph:…

… Some objections to be considered:

1. Did the Qumran community live and work beyond the confines of the monastery? References to wages, etc. in the Manual of Discipline would make it feasible.

2. Is it necessary to assume a close identity between the Scribes and the Manual of Discipline? The Manual must have been written very early in the history of the community. Given time, any such group is bound to change. Enlargement of numbers and increasing wealth have always had their effect on monastic orders, sects, and denominations. The Manual of Discipline may represent the primitive concept of the community and the Scribes the ultimate outgrowth, having , therefore, points of similarity and differences.

3. Considering the high moral standards of the Manual of Discipline, why would the denunciations of Jesus be directed at them.

The natural changes that time makes in any religious group would account for some of them. In Matt. 23:1-3 he seems to make it clear that he was not quarreling with the basic principles of the group but with the hypocritical conduct.

The Qumran community had a built-in system to encourage hypocrisy. A man was examined each year

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls 4

The Impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. (2009). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Introduction:

We are going to start at chapter 3 and spare our readers what we have had to endure almost every time we read a book or article on these Scrolls. That means that we will not be placing the story of their discovery on this page.

It has become beyond annoying over the years to pick up different works by many different authors, all who felt the need to repeat the story as if no one had ever heard about it in the past 70 years (approx.).

We will try to place the most pertinent information here and encourage you to purchase this book in order to get all the information that author provides.

III. THE PALESTINIAN JEWISH SECT OF THE ESSENES:

The Jews who wrote or used the collection of documents known today as the Qumran Scrolls are not easy to identify. Their origin in pre-Christian times is certain, as the archaeological evidence from Khirbet Qumran, ‘Ain Feshkha, and the caves in which the texts were found makes clear.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in any of the documents that reveals who they were; the members of the sect do not reveal their name(s), except by indirect appellations, such as yaḥad, “community” (literally, “unit”), which occurs in the title of its rule book (DJD 1. 107; p1. XXII); bĕnê Ṣādôq, “sons of Zadoq” (1QS 5:2, 9); ’anšê hayyaḥad, “men of the community” (1QS 5:1); bĕnê ’ôr, “sons of light” (1QS 1:9; 1QM 1:1); bĕrît haḥădāšāh, “the new covenant” (1QpHab 2:3; CD 6:19 [name derived from Jer 31:31]); bā’ê habbĕrît, “those who enter the covenant” (1QS 2:18); ‘ēdāh, “congregation” (1QSa 1:6); ‘ădat hā-’ebyônîm, “congregation of the poor” (4QpPsa [4Q171] 2:10); šābê Yiśrā’ēl, “the returnees of Israel” (CD 4:2); ḥibbûr Yiśrā’ēl, “the company of Israel” (CD 12:8); or qāhāl, “assembly” (1QSa 1:25). None of these symbolic titles, however, tells us anything about their historical name.

Consequently, many attempts have been made by modern scholars to identify the inhabitants, using names derived from other historical documents that have revealed the different kinds of Jews who lived in ancient Palestine or Judea…

The historical name “Essene” is passed on in various spellings in Greek and Latin sources. One finds the Greek spelling Essēnoi in some manuscripts of Josephus’s writings, and Essaioi in others. Writers of the patristic period (e.g., Epiphanius) sometimes have the Greek spelling Ossēnoi or Ossaioi (a copyist’s confusion of Ɛ with O?). In Latin, the name is given as Esseni (so Pliny the Elder [Nat. Hist. 5.15.73]). Even though this name is used for Jews, no one has ever found such a name in Hebrew or Aramaic texts. Some scholars have tried to explain Essēnoi as an adjective (with the common Greek gentilic ending -ēnos) derived either from the Hebrew root ‘sy, “do, make” (hence “Doers” [i.e., those that do the will of God]), or “heal” (hence “Healers”), or ḥasayyā’, “pious ones” (Aramaic). None of these explanations is really convincing.

The reason why most scholars prefer to identify the Qumran sect as Essene is the testimony of the Latin writer Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, A.D. 23–79)…

Two main explanations are current about the origin of the Jewish sect of the Essenes: one traces them to a Palestinian or Judean setting, and the other to a Babylonian background…

The Jews who belonged to the Essene movement were of four sorts: (1) the cenobitic Jews of the Qumran area; (2) those who lived in Jerusalem and other towns and villages of Judea; (3) those still in the camps of “the land of Damascus” (= Babylon); (4) the Therapeutae in Egypt, related to the Essenes of Judea. Here I shall concentrate mainly on the cenobites of the Qumran area.

From the archaeological evidence at Khirbet Qumran, it is clear that the Essenes began to occupy the community center in Phase Ib, about the time that John Hyrcanus I was king and high priest in Judea (134–104 B.C.). Prior to that time, when they withdrew to Qumran, they were a disorganized group, such as described in the Damascus Document, “In the period of wrath, three hundred and ninety years after He delivered them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, He visited them and made a shoot of planting sprout from Israel and Aaron to take possession of His land” (CD 1:5–8)…

IV THE LANGUAGES OF THE SCROLLS

Being documents of ancient Jews living in Judea in the last pre-Christian centuries and during the first century A.D., the Qumran Scrolls were written in three languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Each of these languages appears in forms that were little known prior to the discovery of the scrolls.

(1) Hebrew. The vast majority of the texts retrieved from the Qumran caves were written in Hebrew. The various biblical texts discovered there were copied in the consonantal form of Biblical Hebrew that was characteristic of the given book, either preexilic or postexilic Biblical Hebrew. At times, however, these copies display the fuller spelling found in many other Qumran Hebrew texts, for example, qwdš (= qôdeš) instead of merely qdš (pronounced in the same way). That fuller spelling is called scriptio plena, which means the use of certain consonants to indicate vowels (e.g., aleph or hē for a; waw for u or ô; yodh for i); such consonants were called matres lectionis (lit., “mothers of a reading”).

The nonbiblical Qumran texts, however, were written in a consonantal form of Hebrew that is later than the postexilic biblical form but not identical to what was used in the earliest of the rabbinical writings, known as Mishnaic Hebrew, which is a form of the language that appears about A.D. 200–220. Many of the sectarian and parabiblical literary writings used by the Essenes were composed in Qumran Hebrew.1 This is strange, because at that time most of the Jews in Judea would have been speaking Aramaic. It is often thought that the Essenes resuscitated the use of spoken Hebrew because it was regarded by them as lĕšôn haqqōdeš, “the language of the Sanctuary.”…

2) Aramaic. Aramaic is a sister language of Hebrew, using the very same consonants but vocalizing them differently. For instance, “the king” would be hammélek in Hebrew, but malkā́ in Aramaic, having the same three consonants, mlk, the root of the verb “to rule, reign.” Qumran Aramaic, however, is a form of the language later than Biblical Aramaic but not identical to the form that appears later in rabbinic writings of the fourth century A.D. Some fragments of Daniel and Ezra from the Qumran caves preserve the Biblical Aramaic form of those biblical books, but often with fuller spelling..

(3) Greek. Although most of the writings found in the Qumran caves were composed in a Semitic language, either Hebrew or Aramaic, some were discovered that were written in Greek These include texts of the Septuagint, that is, the translation of the Hebrew OT into Hellenistic Greek

V THE SCRIPTURES IN THE SCROLLS

The discovery of copies of the Hebrew Scriptures in the Qumran caves gives concrete evidence of what Josephus wrote about the Essenes’ esteem for Moses and his writings: “After God, they hold most in esteem the name of their lawgiver, any blasphemer of whom is put to death” (J.W. 2.8.9 §145). Moreover, the Qumran copies have revolutionized not only the critical study of those biblical writings (i.e., textual criticism), but also the study of the canon and ancient translations (in Aramaic, Greek, and Latin). They have proved to be so important because, before they were discovered, the oldest manuscript of a Hebrew biblical text, the Ben Asher Codex of the Prophets, was dated to A.D. 895.1 The manuscript of Isaiah from Qumran Cave 1 (1QIsaa) is dated 125–100 B.C. and is roughly a thousand years older than the Ben Asher Codex.

Most of the biblical texts have been inscribed on animal skin (of a lamb or a kid), which was prepared for writing in the basins of ‘Ain Feshkha. Some texts of Kings, Daniel, and Tobit are found on papyrus, which may have come from reeds grown locally or from Lake Huleh in Galilee. The skin was inscribed usually on the hair side…

The majority of the biblical books written in Hebrew were found in Qumran Cave 4, but Caves 1–3, 5–8, and 11 also yielded a goodly number of them. All told, they number about 202, a little less than a quarter of all the texts retrieved from the 11 Qumran caves. Almost 20 more come from other sites, such as Murabba‘at and Masada. Most of the documents are fragmentary, but a complete copy of all 66 chapters of the Book of Isaiah was among the seven big texts from Qumran Cave 1 (1QIsaa), from which another sizable, but not complete, copy was retrieved (1QIsab). The only books not represented among the fragments are Esther and Nehemiah. There is, however, a fragmentary text of Ezra (4QEzra [4Q117]), which may offset the loss of Nehemiah, because in antiquity Ezra and Nehemiah were considered at times as one writing…

Many of these biblical texts were copied by Essene scribes at Qumran, and often they can be detected by the distinctive mode of writing and spelling. Some texts are dated palaeographically to a time before the Essene community began to live at Qumran; they show that they were copied elsewhere and were brought to the desert retreat when the Essenes came there. Thus, the oldest text, 4QExodf is dated 250 B.C. …

The chapters of the Book of Daniel and of Ezra that are preserved in Aramaic in the Masoretic Text in use today are represented in fragmentary texts from Qumran…

A few fragments of the Greek translation of the Pentateuch, commonly known as the Old Greek or Septuagint version, have turned up in Qumran Cave 4…

Emanuel Tov has summarized the contribution that the Qumran texts have made to biblical research.9 For instance, he has emphasized readings previously unknown, which now enable one to understand better details in the traditional Masoretic Text that had been obscured by omissions…

Tov has also shown how some of the Qumran biblical texts reveal the reliability of ancient translations, such as the Old Greek (or Septuagint), because some copies of the Hebrew text agree more with the Septuagint than with the traditional Masoretic Text…

This is a difficult topic to discuss, because “canon” is a Greek word (kanōn) that came to be used of authoritative biblical writings in the early Christian church. In the later rabbinical tradition, the idea of such writings was expressed by the formula, “writings that render the hands unclean”: “The [Aramaic] version that is in Ezra and Daniel renders the hands unclean. If an [Aramaic] version [contained in the Scriptures] was written in Hebrew, or if [Scripture that is in] Hebrew was written in an [Aramaic] version, or in [paleo-] Hebrew script, it does not render the hands unclean” (m. Yadaim 4:5).

It is not known, however, whether there were such authoritative writings (or a canon of Scripture) in pre-Christian times or even how the Qumran Essenes then regarded such writings, which we call today apocryphal, deuterocanonical, or protocanonical writings…

VI THE USE AND INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE IN THE SECT

The Essenes differed from the Pharisees in that they did not have an oral tradition governing their understanding of the written Word of God. The Pharisaic oral tradition came to be called tôrāh šebĕ‘al peh, “the Law according to the mouth,” and differed from the tôrāh šebiktāb, “the Law that is in writing.” The oral tradition of the Pharisees was written down eventually in the rabbinic period, about A.D. 200–220, under R. Judah Han-Naśi’ (or Judah the Prince). That tradition thus began with the Mishnah and ended with the Talmuds, Palestinian and Babylonian. Lacking such an oral tradition, the Essenes resorted rather to a variety of ways of biblical exegesis or interpretation, among which the most important were written commentaries that they called pĕšārîm…

In most instances, the Essene interpretation of Scripture assumes the form of literal exegesis, which is unlike that of Philo and other Alexandrian interpreters, whose interpretation is often allegorical, figurative, or symbolic. The Essene interpretation was known as “the exact interpretation of the Law” (pĕrûš hattôrāh, CD 4:8) and “the study of the Law” (midraš hattôrāh). The passage in the Manual of Discipline that explains why the Essenes were in their desert retreat says, “When these have become a community in Israel … and walk to the desert to open there His path, as it stands written, ‘In the desert prepare the way of ••••, make straight a path for our God’ (Isa 40:3). This is the study of the Law, which He ordered through Moses” (1QS 8:12–15). The Essenes considered such study a way of discerning the will of God: what God had hidden from Israel of old, but was discovered by “the Interpreter of the Law” (dôrēš hattôrāh, 1QS 8:11–12), who may have been the Teacher of Righteousness…

VIII BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF THE SECT:

In the eschatological writings that were discussed toward the end of the preceding chapter, it was found that the Essenes of Qumran believed that they were already living in the end-time. Such a belief not only called for a mode of conduct or behavior that was appropriate to it but also set them apart from other contemporary Jews such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The life and conduct of the Essenes relied very much on the data of the Scriptures, which they interpreted exactly and strictly, but they were governed also by their eschatological convictions.

On the one hand, the belief of the Essenes did not differ from the teachings of other Jews, in that they too affirmed monotheism and the observance of the Mosaic Law and the writings of the Prophets. The Essenes likewise uttered, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh, is our God, Yahweh alone” (Deut 6:4), and pledged “to seek God with all one’s heart and with all one’s soul and to do what is good and upright before Him, as He ordered through Moses and all His servants, the Prophets” (1QS 1:1–3). So they expressed their reverence and respect for “the God of Israel” (1QS 3:24), the God of their ancestors. In the Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11, which was like a prayer book of the community, the Essenes sang to God with many of the psalms of the canonical psalter. Yet it contains also a “Hymn to the Creator” and uses phrases from Jer 10:12–13 and Ps 135:7…

These different ways of writing the name of God not only reveal the reverence the Essenes had for the Creator, but also show the way they tended to avoid pronouncing His sacred name as Yahweh. The common vocalization of the four consonants is known from Origen’s Hexapla, where he transcribed the pronunciation of the Hebrew in Greek as IAB€. The tetragrammaton, written in Hebrew characters, was employed even in Greek translations of OT books, when those translations were made by Jewish scribes. Christian scribes, however, translated the tetragrammaton in the Septuagint as ho Kyrios, “the Lord,” and that became the common practice for centuries….

Besides the main theological tenets that have been singled out in §§1–3 above, the Essenes cherished various other convictions about angels, the holy Spirit, justification by grace, the New Jerusalem, and astrology.

(a) Angels. The main word in Hebrew for “angels” is mal’ākîm (lit., “messengers,” who bring God’s word to human beings); but other names are used too: qĕdôšîm, “holy ones,” rûḥôt, “spirits,” ’ēlîm, “divinities,” and even ’ĕlôhîm, “gods.” In Aramaic, one finds mal’ākîn, “messengers,” ‘îrîn, “watchers,” and qaddîšîn, “holy ones.” Many of the Hebrew titles can be found in a text that is called sometimes “The Angelic Liturgy,” or more usually 11QShirShabb (11Q17), cols. 1–5.

Besides the angels mentioned in the OT, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (1QM 9:15–16; 4QEna 1 iv 6), the Essenes venerated also Sariel (1QM 9:16) and other angels, whose names are listed in 4QEna 1 iv 1–4: Shemiḥazah, Ḥermoni, Baraq’el, Kokab’el, Ziqi’el, Aratteqoph, Shimsṓḥi’el, Sahri’el, Asa’el. Another list of twenty angels is provided in 4QEna 1 iii 5–12.3 Not all the angels were good, however, since Belial also had his mal’ākîm, “angels” (1QM 1:15)…

The Holy Spirit. Borrowing from the OT, especially from the Book of Ezekiel, the idea of “the Spirit of the Lord” (37:1), the Essenes used it often to express their awareness of God’s presence among them: “You have spread over me Your holy Spirit so that I may not stumble” (1QHa 15 [old 7]:7); “You have delighted me with Your holy Spirit” (1QHa 17 [old 9]:32); “I have heeded faithfully Your wondrous secret through Your holy Spirit” (1QHa 20 [old 17]:12)…

IX THE SCROLLS AND CHRISTIANITY

In approaching this topic, I must issue a warning at the outset. This topic is not being discussed in any apologetic sense, as if it were more or less important than it really is. There is, first of all, a need to be aware of a Christian tendency, often subconscious, to color details in these thoroughly Jewish scrolls or magnify them unduly in a Christian sense. Second, some years ago, shortly after the publication of the first scrolls from Cave 1, the Jewish scholar Samuel Sandmel warned those who were studying them about “Parallelomania.”1 Parallels there are indeed; but perhaps the comment should be, “So what?” The parallels may be sheer coincidence. Third, one often sees quoted the dictum of E. R. Goodenough about parallels: A parallel by definition consists of straight lines in the same plane that never meet, however far they are extended in any direction. That definition, however, is derived from mathematics and is being applied to literature. To repeat the dictum as if it closes all discussion or absolves one from investigating the literary relationship of authors to some sources is only a form of obscurantism—something little better than parallelomania or pan-Qumranism. It also enables one to avoid asking the question, when a literary parallel might cease to be such and prove actually to be a contact…

John, the son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5), is mentioned nowhere in any of Qumran Scrolls or in any of the Dead Sea Scrolls (in the broad sense), even though he is known to have been a contemporary of the Qumran Essenes. The Jewish historian Josephus knew of John and reported that some Jews claimed that God had destroyed the army of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, “because of the execution of John, called the Baptist” (Ant. 18.5.2 §§116–19; see Mark 6:16–29, the Gospel account of John’s death)…

There is no mention of Jesus of Nazareth anywhere in the QL. Since most of the scrolls date from the first century B.C., it is not surprising that he is not named in any of them. Those that are dated palaeographically to the first century A.D. come usually from such an early time in that century that there is little likelihood that they would say anything about him.

That Jesus knew of the Essenes of Qumran is not unlikely. That he taught some of the same things that they espoused is not impossible, but there is no way of being certain about either question, mainly because the Essenes are not mentioned in the NT…

One of the names found in the NT for the primitive Christian community is “the Way” (hē hodos), in Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 23. Commentators on Acts have said either that they could not find out where this name came from or that it was a shortening of “the way of the Lord/God,” as in Acts 18:25–26. Hadderek, “the Way,” however, occurs a number of times at the designation of the Essene community at Qumran: tikkûnê hadderek, “the regulations of the Way” (1QS 9:21); lĕbôḥôrê derek, “those who choose the Way” (1QS 9:17–18); sōrĕrê derek, “those who turn aside from the Way” (CD 2:6). This evidence might suggest that early Christians, in using “the Way” as a name for their members, were imitating the Essene designation of their community…

In Qumran Cave 7, nineteen fragments were found, all written in Greek; two were biblical texts (7Q1: Exod 28:4–7; 7Q2: Epistle of Jeremy [Baruch 6]:43–44) and the rest (7Q3–19) remained unidentified. In 1972, José O’Callaghan published an article in which he claimed to identify eight of the fragments (7Q4–10, 15) as quotations of NT verses. He considered 7Q4 to be part of 1 Tim 3:16; 4:1, 3; 7Q5 as Mark 6:52–53; 7Q6/l as Mark 4:28; 7Q6/2 as Acts 27:38; 7Q7 as Mark 12:17; 7Q8 as Jas 1:23–24; 7Q9 as Rom 5:11–12; 7Q10 as 2 Pet 1:15; and 7Q15 as Mark 6:48.3

If O’Callaghan had been right, one would have had to change the interpretation of many of the finds at Qumran and revise the dating of many NT writings: for example, Christians would have been among the people resident at Qumran; 2 Peter would have been written before the fall of Jerusalem.

Many scholars and students of the Qumran scrolls, however, remained quite skeptical about his identification, because most of the 7Q fragments are so small and contain so few letters that they almost defy identification. O’Callaghan continued to insist on the NT identification until his death…

X THE SCROLLS AND THE WRITINGS OF PAUL OF TARSUS

The chief difference between the QL and the NT lies in the Christian gospel, the good news of what Jesus of Nazareth achieved for humanity in his life, passion, death, and resurrection. There is nothing like that news in the QL. An important secondary difference, however, is the eschatology of the two groups. The Essenes, who seem to have been convinced that they were living already in the end-time, were looking forward predominantly to the end of that period, to the coming of a Prophet and the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel and to the final battle of the sons of light against the sons of darkness. The early Christians, however, who also may be thought of as already living in the end-time, predominantly looked backward to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah who has already come.

The earliest NT writer who wrote about Jesus was not one of the evangelists, but Paul of Tarsus. Even before any of the Gospels, the narratives of what Jesus did and said, were composed, Paul was interpreting the meaning of what Jesus did and said. So the interpretation preceded the narrative. Paul is known to Christians of a later date from his letters and the account of his ministry that Luke later composed in the Acts of the Apostles…

Various features of Pauline theology have been detected as similar to that of the Essenes: justification by grace, interpretation of Hab 2:4, curse of the law, lists of vices and virtues, and dualism…

XI THE SCROLLS AND JOHANNINE WRITINGS

By “Johannine Writings” I mean the Gospel according to John and the three Johannine Epistles. Even though the Apocalypse (or Book of Revelation) is attributed to John, I shall treat that writing in the next chapter, along with other Christian writings of the NT.

The Gospel according to John, the fourth of the canonical Gospels, was hardly a second-century composition, as has been maintained at times. The Rylands Papyrus (P52), containing parts of John 18:31–33, 37–38, is dated palaeographically to A.D. 100–125, which shows that the Gospel was already in existence at the end of the first Christian century. It is dated commonly to the last decade, A.D. 90–95, and not earlier. The Fourth Gospel is not a reformulation of the Christian good news in philosophical terms, despite its emphasis in the prologue on the Logos and its allegedly Platonic view of the world (“above … below,” ideal vs. real). It contains rather a heavily Jewish Christian formulation that has embedded a primitive tradition about Jesus of Nazareth, along with a clear dependence on OT ideas, customs, and feasts. Hence, it is a late first-century meditative reminiscence of what Jesus once did and said…

As will be seen below, the Johannine Gospel and Epistles manifest contacts with Essene writings that are not just random parallels. It is not known, however, where or how such a contact took place. Ephesus has been regarded traditionally as the place of composition of the Fourth Gospel, and because the Acts of the Apostles speaks of disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus (Acts 18:25–19:5), it has been suggested that the contact was made through such disciples in Ephesus. A recent commentator on the Gospel, however, has proposed rather that its author “was more likely to have been an Essene,” who was converted…

XII THE SCROLLS AND OTHER CHRISTIAN WRITINGS

The Beatitudes. A beatitude or macarism is a saying that begins, “Blessed is/are.… The beatitude as a literary form is found often in the OT (e.g., Ps 1:1; Jer 17:7); sometimes beatitudes are paired (e.g., Ps 32:1–2). There are thirteen beatitudes in the Matthean Gospel, and fifteen in the Lucan. They appear on the lips of Jesus, scattered throughout his teaching. A collection of beatitudes is found in Matt 5:3–10 (eight of them) and in Luke 6:20–22 (four of them, parallel to four woes).

Beatitudes are scattered throughout QL, especially in its Wisdom texts. Thus, “Blessed is the man to whom she [Wisdom] has been given” (4QWisText [4Q185] 1–2 ii 8); “Blessed is the man who makes(?) her [Wisdom], does not deceive her, does not slander against her …” (ibid., 13)…

The NT writing that is so named is recognized today as neither a Pauline composition, nor an epistle, nor addressed to the Hebrews, despite the long tradition that so regarded it. It is an anonymous homily or word of exhortation (logos paraklēseōs, so named in Heb 13:22) with an epistolary conclusion, addressed to a Christian community and seeking to get it to renew its loyalty after considerable backsliding. It contains extensive exhortations, with elaborate interpretations of OT passages.

The Jewish scholar Y. Yadin, in an early article written in 1958, maintained that the Epistle to the Hebrews was addressed to a “group of Jews originally belonging to the DSS Sect who were converted to Christianity, carrying with them some of their previous beliefs.”2 His opinion was adopted by some Christian scholars…

This distinctive book of the NT is called properly by the Greek title, “The Apocalypse” (Apokalypsis), because it is the only complete book in the NT written in the literary genre called “apocalyptic.” This genre designates writings of a revelatory character that were born in ancient Judaism, especially in times when Israel was struggling with occupying powers that were persecuting the Israelites. The purpose of such a writing was to console the Israelites, assuring them that God was still in control of their destiny and history. Examples of such apocalyptic writing can be found in Isaiah 24–27, 56–66; Zechariah 9–14; Daniel 7–12; and in noncanonical Jewish literature such as Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and 4 Ezra…

XIII THE COPPER SCROLL

In Qumran Cave 3, the archaeologists who were scouring the cliffs that line the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the spring of 1952 as they looked for further caves after the discovery of Cave 2 found a strange object. It turned out to be two copper rolls, each about 12 inches long, which had lain in the cave for about 2,000 years. The copper rolls could not be unrolled because the metal had become oxidized and brittle. They have often been called “the Copper Scroll,” the title used in this chapter. They are not really a scroll, but rather two parts of a plaque. It soon became clear that the plaque contained some writing, because some of the letters of the inscribed text showed through on the reverse. A German scholar, Karl Georg Kuhn, who studied the unrolled plaque, determined from the inverse letters that the text had something to do with “digging,” “cubits,” and “gold.” From this he concluded that it probably said something about hidden treasure…

Allegro made a facsimile of the Hebrew letters to accompany the photographs of the columns; the photographs were difficult to read because of the curvature of the strips, and so the facsimile became all important. Allegro finally brought the facsimile, the photographs, and unrolled plaque back to Jerusalem. Then J. T. Milik was assigned to make the official publication of it, which he finally did in 1962, seven years after it was opened…

When the text of 3Q15 was studied, it revealed that it was indeed a list of 64 places were treasure had been buried, as Kuhn had suggested from his study of it in its unopened state. For instance, the first entry of column 1 reads, “At Harubah, which is in the Vale of Achor, under the steps that face eastward, 40 cubits: a box of silver weighing 17 talents. KɛN.” In this entry, the details are somewhat clear, but in many of the 64 entries they are not. The Hebrew text of the first entry just quoted ends with three Greek letters, and nobody has been able to say what they (and a few other instances like them) really mean. What is evident, however, is that the whole text records the hiding places of many precious metals: gold, silver, and other items…

The opened plaque, however, has raised many questions. Does it record places where real treasure has been buried? Was it the treasure of the Qumran community? Or did the treasure belong to someone else? Possibly to the Temple in Jerusalem? Who stored the plaque in Cave 3? Or was it merely a fictional record of “buried treasure”? There are other ancient examples of imaginary buried treasure, but none on a copper plaque. But if it is a fictional record, why would anyone inscribe it on a copper plaque?

Whatever the answers to such questions may be, the text inscribed on the plaque is important for the study of the Hebrew dialect in which it was composed. It is written in a form of Hebrew that is intermediate between the late postexilic Biblical Hebrew (and even Qumran Hebrew) and Mishnaic Hebrew. Milik dated the script palaeographically to A.D. 100. If he is correct, that would mean that the plaque was deposited in Cave 3 after the destruction of the Essene community center at Qumran in A.D. 68 and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It is far from certain that the plaque had anything to do with the Essene community, because its text contains no sectarian terminology and mentions no one or anything connected with the Essenes…

XIV THE END OF THE QUMRAN COMMUNITY

From the archaeological evidence at Khirbet Qumran, it is known that the site was destroyed by fire, and in the ashes created by it were found coins dated to the second and third year of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, along with numerous arrowheads.1 This means that the buildings were destroyed by military action, that is, by the Roman troops that were in the Jordan Valley prior to their advance to the siege of Jerusalem. Hence, the site of Qumran became ruins (a khirbeh) in A.D. 68, and the Essenes had to move on from there. The Romans left a small squadron of soldiers at Qumran, who used part of the site as military post to guard the shore of the Dead Sea and the area around the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some of the Essenes from Qumran must have gone to Masada, a Herodian fortress situated about 25 miles to the south-southwest of Qumran, because copies of some of the same texts that were found in Qumran Cave 4 were also found there, written in the same script. The fortress of Masada fell to the Roman siege of it in A.D. 73–74, and what Essenes from Qumran were there must have either perished or fled elsewhere…

It is not impossible that some of the Qumran community became Christian monks, because from the Manual of Discipline and other sectarian writings we know that the Essenes lived a common life, pooled their earnings, and conducted themselves in obedience to an Overseer (mĕbaqqēr); and some of them lived as celibates. That form of life was thus a Jewish precedent of the life of poverty, chastity, and obedience that characterized monasticism in the Christian church of later days.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls 3

#8. Jesus and the Gospels in the Light of the Scrolls by F.F. Bruce

In any comparison of the Qumran literature with the Gospels there is an initial difficulty to be

taken into account: the historical subject-matter of the Gospels is far more securely

established than that of the Qumran literature. For example, whatever doubt may be

entertained of other elements in the story of Jesus, the fact that he was crucified by sentence

of Pontius Pilate fixes his position in history within narrow limits, for Pilate was prefect of

Judaea from A.D. 26 to 36/37.

If it were possible to fix the death of the Qumran Teacher of Righteousness within ten or twelve years, we should count ourselves fortunate indeed. As it is, two of the most distinguished British scholars who have dealt with this subject assign to the death of the Teacher dates separated from each other by over 230 years: H. H. Rowley identifies him with the high priest Onias III, who was assassinated in 171 B.C., while G. R. Driver identifies him with the Zealot leader Menahem, who was killed in September, A.D. 66.

It must make a difference to a comparative study of Qumran and the Gospels whether we date

the Teacher of Righteousness before Christ or after Christ. But even G. R. Driver, while

maintaining the post-Christian dating of the Scrolls, insists that “they are documents of prime

importance for the understanding of the New Testament and present a challenge which

Christian scholars will neglect at their peril” (The Judaean Scrolls, 1965, p. 6). His words are

still more to be heeded if, as is assumed for purposes of this essay, both the Teacher of

Righteousness and the bulk of the Qumran texts thus far published are pre-Christian…

Let it be said here that the Jesus with whom this essay is concerned is the Jesus of the

Gospels. No attempt will be made to draw a distinction between the Jesus of history and the

kerygmatic Jesus of post-Easter faith, any more than one will (or could) be made to

distinguish the historical Teacher of Righteousness from the Teacher as he appears in the

Qumran texts.

In the Qumran texts and in the Gospels the Hebrew prophets are valued and interpreted in

their own right; they are not relegated (as so often in rabbinical Judaism) to the role of

providing comments or haphtaroth to the Torah. In the Qumran literature those covenantbreakers

are denounced “who will not believe when they hear all that is coming upon the last

generation, from the mouth of the priest [presumably the Teacher of Righteousness] into

whose heart God has put wisdom, to interpret all the words of his servants the prophets,

through whom God told all that was to come upon his people and upon his land” (1 QpHab. ii.

6-10); similarly Jesus chides his disciples, calling them “foolish men” because they were so

“slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24. 25). The time at which

the prophetic oracles would be fulfilled was not made known to the prophets themselves; it

was revealed to the Teacher of Righteousness, and communicated by him to his disciples,

who thus had reason to thank God for divulging to them his “wonderful mysteries” which

were concealed from others. So Jesus thanks God for revealing to babes things that had been hidden from the wise and understanding (Matt. 11. 25; Luke 10. 21) and congratulates his hearers because they see and hear things that prophets and righteous men longed in vain to see and hear (Matt. 13. 16f.; Luke 10. 23f.).

The distinctive theology of each of the two bodies of literature is based in great measure on the interpretation of prophecy characteristic of each.

In the Qumran literature, however, there is a note of hope deferred which is absent from the

Gospels. It may be that at one time the winding up of the old age was expected within the lifetime

of the Teacher of Righteousness, but its postponement beyond his death called for some

reinterpretation of prophecy: “the last time is prolonged, extending beyond all that the

prophets have spoken, for the mysteries of God are wonderful” (1 QpHab. vii. 7f.). This

reminds us of the New Testament problem of the postponement of the parousia, but while this

problem has left its mark here and there in the Gospels (cf. Luke 19. 1; John 21. 22f.) their

dominant theme is that the age of fulfilment is here. “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in

your hearing”, says Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue after reading Isa. 61. If. (Luke 4. 2 I); his

contemporaries should understand that his casting out demons is a sign that the kingdom of

God has arrived (Matt. 12. 28; Luke 11. 20), and if it has not yet arrived “with power”, it will

do so very soon (Mark 9. r); the limitations under which he labours at present will disappear

once he has undergone his coming baptism (Luke 12. 50)—a baptism which, in the light of

Mark 10. 38f., can readily be identified with his death. There is a difference here which is

bound up with the differing roles ascribed to Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness by their

respective disciples….

As the Qumran community owes its character and outlook preeminently to the personality and

teaching of the Teacher of Righteousness, so primitive Christianity owes its being to Jesus.

A comparison of Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness is difficult because of the

allusiveness of the Qumran references to the Teacher and the uncertainty of any

reconstruction of his career; even the most sceptical assessment of the historical element in

the Gospels among contemporary New Testament students leaves us with much more definite

information about the historical Jesus than the Qumran documents provide about the Teacher.

One thing must be said: in any such comparison apologetic motives have no place. It is

foolish to imagine that the significance of Jesus can be enhanced by depreciation of one of the

righteous men who went before him. Yet the words “who went before him” are appropriate in

more than a chronological sense. The formulation of Jesus’ indictment which was fastened to

his cross, “The King of the Jews”, indicates that he was held to have made some sort of

messianic claim for himself, and he was certainly proclaimed by his followers very soon

afterwards as the Messiah of Israel. There is no indication that any messianic claim was made

for the Teacher of Righteousness either by himself or by his followers: his role was rather that

of a forerunner of the messianic age, “to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (cf. Luke

1. 17). Of the manner of his death we have no information, nor yet about any significance that

was attached to it, save that with it a final probationary period of forty years was believed to

begin (CD xx. 14 f.; cf. the implied interpretation of the forty years of Ps. 95. 10 in Heb. 3.

7ff.).

It is quite uncertain whether his resurrection is implied in the reference to the “standing

up of one who will teach righteousness in the end of days” (CD vi. to f.); it is, indeed, quite

uncertain whether the Qumran community held the doctrine of resurrection or not. But it is

nowhere suggested that, if such an expectation was entertained with regard to the Teacher, he

ever did rise again or that anyone thought he did so. Apart from his qualities as an organizer and leader of men, his main service to his followers appears to have been his creative biblical

exegesis. Jesus too taught his followers the principles of a creative biblical exegesis, and

while they might not have regarded this as his main service to them, it provided them with the

framework for understanding and declaring the meaning of his person and work.

Another essay in this collection deals with the messianic doctrine of the Qumran community.

Here it may suffice to say that the messianic doctrine of Qumran, especially as it related to the

Messiah of Israel and his career of conquest, was repudiated by Jesus as decisively as other

current forms of messianic expectation. If analogies are sought in Old Testament prophecy for

Jesus’ understanding and fulfilment of his mission, they may be found more readily in a combination of the Servant of Yahweh of Isa. 42-53 and the “one like a son of man” of

Dan. 7. 13 than in the explicit messianic passages.

While the Servant of Yahweh and the Son of Man do not figure expressly in the Qumran

literature, the influence of the biblical passages where they are portrayed can be discerned in

the thought and language of the community. The speaker in some of the Hymns of

Thanksgiving—whether he is the Teacher of Righteousness in person or an anonymous

spokesman of the community—describes his experiences in terms of the obedient and

suffering Servant. More important still: the community as a whole seems to have regarded

itself as called upon corporately to fulfil the Servant’s role. As the Teacher and his followers

devoted themselves to the study and practice of the law of God, as they endured persecution

and privation for righteousness’ sake, they believed that they were accumulating a store of

merit which would be accepted as an atonement for the polluted land of Israel. But they also

believed that, when the “epoch of wickedness” came to an end, it would be their privilege to

be God’s instruments in the execution of judgement against the ungodly (cf. 1 QpHab. v. 3-6).

These two phases of corporate fulfilment of prophecy may be compared with Jesus’ words

about the Son of Man, on the one hand suffering rejection and giving his life a ransom for

many, on the other hand coming in glory to acknowledge faithful confessors and to disown

the faithless in the presence of God and the holy angels. The corporate aspect is not absent

from the Gospels: Jesus speaks of his followers as both sharing his cup of passion and sharing

his throne of glory with him.

#9. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Doctrine by Matthew Black D.D., F.B.A.

Principal of St. Mary’s College and Professor of Biblical Criticism in the University of St Andrews

The Ethel M. Wood Lecture delivered before the University of London on 8 February 1966

The Dead Sea scrolls ‘are documents of prime importance for the understanding of

the New Testament and present a challenge which Christian scholars will neglect at

their peril’.1 The relevance and importance of the scrolls for the study of Christian

beginnings, doctrinal as well as historical, is now widely recognized. The ‘battle’ of

the scrolls, moreover, seems largely to have moved away from questions of date and

history―though these are still fundamental and few of them yet resolved―to

doctrinal or theological issues where there is every indication that these will be as

hotly contested as the fundamental problems of history and dates.

At the moment, however, the most urgent need is not for controversy, but for clarification; and my

main purpose in this lecture is to seek to clarify some of the debated theological

issues as well as to report several of my own conclusions. The scrolls are important

for Christian doctrine: but there is a very real danger that this importance may be

exaggerated, and a distorted, even false, picture given of their doctrines as well as

their dates. I may add that I am also acutely aware of the difficulties and

complexities of the subject; and these I do not think can be exaggerated.

I have two preliminary remarks to make. Firstly, I assume that the scrolls are to be

dated not later than the end of the first Christian century, or, at the latest, the early

decades of the second. Some of the scrolls, at any rate, must therefore be contemporary with New Testament writings, others are undoubtedly earlier. Secondly, the

favourite identification of the sect is with the Essenes, a large body of whom is located by

ancient historians near the Dead Sea. The theory has been challenged, most recently by

Professor Driver,2 and can no longer, it seems to me, be maintained without qualification. The

modification I would accept is that the Essene group who held the fort at Qumran at the

outbreak of the First Revolt (and thus the last custodians of the scrolls) had ceased, at least in their leadership and dominant elements, to be the pacific ascetics idealized by Josephus and

Philo; they had by then thrown in their lot with Zealot and Pharisaic groups…

It is now common knowledge that the Qumran sect believed in two Messiahs, a priestly

Messiah and a secular leader or royal Messiah, more in line with the orthodox conception of

traditional Judaism. In addition, a third individual has figured prominently in the discussion of

the scrolls, the so-called Teacher of Righteousness.

Apart from the fact that he was the founder of the sect and some kind of teacher of the Law (the term, which is ambiguous, really means ‘the Rightful Teacher [of the Law]’) his identity has baffled scholars, and there is still no general agreement as to who he was or when he flourished: the most recent solution of the problem is still sub judice.4

One school of interpreters claims that he too was a Messiah, or rather, it is claimed that the sect believed that he would arise or ‘return’ ‘at the end of the days’ as the priestly Messiah of the sect. Where so much is still. obscure it is not surprising to find even more extravagant claims being made:

indeed, a whole mythology has now grown up around the Teacher of Righteousness, based on

the slenderest of evidence, such as that he was crucified, appeared in a theophany to his

followers, rose again from the dead, and so on; and the portrait of Christ in the Gospels is then

made out to be a second-hand copy of a Qumran original…

The idea that the Qumran sect believed in some form of messianic atonement is one of the

most fiercely contested in scroll interpretation. That the scrolls do attest some kind of

atonement ‘for the nation’, that is, for Israel, through human suffering, in this case the

persecutions of the sect, is not in dispute and I take the homologoumena first before turning

to the antilegomena.

One must begin by recognizing that the concept of atonement is a large one, capable of

embracing a variety of not necessarily related ideas. In the Manual of Discipline, for

instance, the individual makes atonement for his own sins by renewed obedience to the Law;

elsewhere it is God who makes atonement (CD v.5). One disputed passage speaks of the Messiah as making atonement (CD xviii.8-9), and I shall return to this passage shortly.

The idea is also closely connected with the doctrine of grace; and in the Hymns of Thanksgiving

we encounter again and again a deep spiritual insight in this connection found elsewhere only

in the great prophets, or the Psalms, and the New Testament; it is a spirit of almost

evangelical piety―man has no righteousness of his own except what God confers on him.19

Evidence for the atoning efficacy of the sufferings of the spiritual leaders of the sect is

incontrovertible and specially noteworthy use is made of Second Isaiah. At fol: viii in the

Manual of Discipline special mention is made of fifteen men, twelve laymen and three

priests, who are said to be ‘perfect in all that is revealed from the whole Torah’…

It is a fairly general assumption among scroll interpreters that the Qumran doctrine

of the Last Things―its eschatology―is substantially that of the New Testament

writings. The Qumran Essenes shared, we are told, with the early Church the same

kind of beliefs in the imminence of the Last Judgement, the coming of the Kingdom

of God, the End of the world, in heaven and hell, in rewards and punishments in an

after-life, etc.

In general it may certainly be said that there is a larger area of common ground here

between Qumran Judaism and the New Testament than between the New Testament

and any other branch of Judaism: but the situation is more complicated than can be

conveyed in such general terms, for, as in the New Testament itself, there are diverse tendencies as well as development within Qumran eschatological doctrine. What

began as a political programme or goal, for instance, albeit a goal to be reached in

God’s own time and by His will ‘at the end of the days’, namely the national

recognition of the claims of the sect as the body representing the true Israel, tended

to find increasing expression in apocalyptic language and imagery so that the End

Time became, as in the New Testament, a cosmic drama of Judgement.

No sharp line of distinction, however, can be drawn between an other-worldly eschatology and the

political aspirations of the sect even in their wildest dreams of world dominion. The

birth-pangs of the new age, the Kingdom of God, were to be the death-throes of the

old age, the overthrow of the dominion of Satan represented by the kingdoms of this

world…

The Qumran doctrine of salvation, along with its closely related doctrine of man―again and

again we are reminded of the frailty and inherent sinfulness of man apart from Godis central

in Qumran belief. As in the Psalter and the great Prophets, man is always seen in his

difference and distance from God but by God’s mercy and by his sustaining and enabling

power man can transcend his own weakness to become like one of the angelic beings

themselves. The foundations are here for the Pauline doctrine of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’ and

‘adoption’ as ‘children’ or ‘sons of God’. (Romans viii. 14 f.)

#10 Qumran and the Old Testament by F.F. Bruce Presidential Address, 2 June 1959

The Qumran documents include an abundance of material bearing on the Old

Testament―Hebrew texts, Greek texts, Targums and commentaries.

(1) Over 200 copies of Old Testament books in the Hebrew (or Aramaic) original have been

identified among the more than 500 books represented by the Qumran finds. Most of these

have survived only as fragments, but there are a few reasonably complete copies, such as

Isaiah A from Cave I and the copies of Leviticus and the Psalms from Cave XI. All twentyfour

books of the Hebrew Bible are represented with the exception of Esther; there are also

fragments of some books of the Apocrypha.

(2) Some Septuagint fragments of two manuscripts of Leviticus and one of Numbers have

been identified from Cave IV; Cave VII has yielded fragments of the Septuagint text of

Exodus and also of the Epistle of Jeremiah, which appears in most editions of the Apocrypha

as the last chapter of Baruch, although it is an independent composition.1

(3) Of all the Targumic material found, greatest interest attaches to the Targum of Job found

in Cave XI, because we have independent evidence for the existence of a written Targum of

this book in the period of the Second Temple, which Gamalel I ordered to be built into the

temple walls2 (presumably not later than A.D. 63, when Herod’s temple was finally completed). We remember, too, the note appended to the Septuagint text of Job which is said to have been ‘translated from the Syriac book’ (probably from an Aramaic Targum).

Fragments of a Leviticus Targum (xvi. 12-15, 18-21) have been found in Cave IV.

The Genesis Apocryphon from Cave I certainly contains Targumic sections, although J. T.

Milik says that it is ‘no true Targum’.3 Other scholars, however, disagree with him; M. Black,

working out a hint dropped by P. Kahle, says that it ‘is almost certainly our oldest written

Palestinian Pentateuch Targum’.4

(4) One of the most important groups of writings found at Qumran consists of commentaries

(pesharim) on various Old Testament books or parts of books. These not only tell us much about the biblical interpretation and religious outlook of the Qumran sectaries, but also have a

contribution of their own to snake to the history of the biblical text.

In the light of these different species of Qumran literature we now propose to consider what

can be learned about (a) the literary criticism of Old Testament books; (b) the text of the Old

Testament; (c) the canon of the Old Testament; (d) the interpretation of the Old Testament

current at Qumran…

To be sure, the Qumran evidence does appear to refute conclusively arguments to the effect

that the book of Isaiah did not receive its present form until after the Maccabaean revolt. We

may think, for instance, of R. H. Kennett’s suggestion5 that the portrayal of the Suffering

Servant in Isaiah Iii. 13-liii. 12 was inspired by the martyrdom of faithful Jews under

Antiochus Epiphanes (between 168 and 164 B.C.), or of B. Dulun’s dating6 of the ‘Isaiah

Apocalypse’ (Isa. xxiv-xxvii) in the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-104 B.C.). If we now have a

copy of the book of Isaiah, complete with Servant Songs and ‘Isaiah Apocalypse’, assignable

on palaeographical grounds to the general period of the Maccabaean rising, there is no further

need of argument. So, at least, one might have thought; but in a book actually dealing with the

Qumran discoveries one French scholar hazarded the suggestion that the portrayal of the

Suffering Servant could have been based on the historical experience of the Teacher of

Righteousness, the revered leader of the Qumran community, whose death he placed between

66 and 63 B.C.!7…

The text of the Old Testament has come down to us along three principal lines of

transmission.

There is, first of all, the Massoretic Hebrew text.9 This is the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible which is commonly supposed to have been fixed by

Jewish scholars in the days of Rabbi Aqiba (c. A.D. 100), the text to which the Massoretes of

the sixth to ninth centuries A.D. affixed an elaborate apparatus of signs which standardised

the pronunciation, punctuation and (up to a point) interpretation of the text. Although the

earliest surviving manuscripts of this text belong, with fragmentary exceptions,10 to the ninth

century A.D., we have witnesses to its earlier stages in quotations in the Mishnah and

Talmud, in the Midrashim and Targumim, and in the Syriac (Peshitta) and Latin (Vulgate)

versions of the Old Testament.

There is, secondly, the Greek version of the Old Testament commonly called the Septuagint,

produced in Alexandria in Egypt in the last two or three centuries B.C., and reflecting a

Hebrew text which sometimes deviates from that of the Massoretes, and which may

reasonably be labelled as an Egyptian text-type.

Thirdly, so far as the Pentateuch is concerned, there is the Samaritan Bible, an edition of the

Hebrew text which has for at least 2,000 years been preserved along a lime of transmission

quite independent of the Massoretic text of the Jews. Before the discovery of the Qumran

texts, P. Kahle expressed the view that the Samaritan Bible, apart from certain adaptations in

the interest of Samaritan claims, is in the main a popular revision of an older text, in which

antiquated forms and constructions, not familiar to people of later times, were replaced by

forms and constructions easier to be understood, difficulties were removed, parallel passages

were inserted’.11

The discovery at Qumran of biblical texts a thousand years older than the earliest Hebrew

biblical manuscripts previously known naturally gave rise to considerable excitement and

speculation, especially as the possibility of our ever finding Hebrew biblical manuscripts

substantially earlier than the Massoretic period had been dismissed for all practical purposes

by the highest authorities.12 The general reader of the Bible asked if the new discoveries

involved much alteration in the traditional text of the Old Testament; the specialist asked to

which, if to any, of the known text-types the newly discovered texts could be assigned…

The best-preserved biblical manuscript from Cave IV is a copy of. Samuel in Hebrew (4Q

Sam. A). This scroll originally contained fifty-seven colunms, of which parts of forty-seven

survive. It is of particular interest, because not only does it exhibit very much the type of text

which the Septuagint translator of Samuel must have used, but a type of text closer to that

which the author of Chronicles appears to have used in the compilation of his work than to the

M.T. of Samuel. P. W. Skehan16 suggests that the M.T. of Samuel is a ‘scissored’ text, in

which certain material has been removed from an earlier ‘vulgar’ text of which 4Q Samuel A

and the Septuagint together give us information.

Among the prophetical books, Jeremiah shows the greatest divergence between the Septuagint

and M.T., the Septuagint attesting a shorter text. Thus shorter text is exhibited in a Hebrew

copy from Cave IV (4Q Jer. B), but the longer recension is also represented at Qumran

A fragmentary scroll of Exodus from Cave IV, written in palaeo-Hebrew script, shows a type

of text hitherto regarded as distinctively Samaritan. The Samaritan text is characterised by

expansions, only a few of which reflect a sectarian tendency. This scroll exhibits all the

Samaritan expansions for the area which it covers, except the supplement to the Tenth

Commandment at the end of Exodus xx. 17, which is one of the expansions where a sectarian

tendency is evident. There is thus nothing sectarian about this scroll, and its evidence

confirms Dr Kahle’s suggestion, quoted above, that the Samaritan Pentateuch in essence is a

popular recension of the traditional text.

The well-known document 4Q Testimonia, which brings together a number of ‘messianic’

proof-texts from the Old Testament, quotes as its first proof-text part of the expanded

Samaritan text of Exodus xx. 21, where the words ‘Moses drew near unto the thick darkness

where God was’ are followed by a conflation of Deuteronomy v. 28 £ and Deuteronomy xviii.

18 f…

The biblical manuscripts proper are not the only Qumran documents which provide us with

the information about the biblical text; indeed, reference has already been made in this respect

to 4Q Testimonia, which is not a biblical manuscript in the strict sense. The biblical

commentaries are also useful in this respect, the more so because the commentators make

skilful use of textual variants. Where one variant suits a commentator’s purpose better than

another, he will use it, although his exposition may show plainly that he is well aware of an

alternative reading. Out of several instances that might be given, let one suffice…

As between the three main text-types, that which developed in due course into the Massoretic

is superior to the other two. In a considerable number of places the new discoveries have

helped us to emend it, or have confirmed emendations previously conjectured; but in general

neither the Septuagint Vorlage nor the Samaritan text can approach the proto-Massoretec for accuracy.

It is evident that down to the end of the Second Commonwealth no one text-type was fixed as authoritative among Palestinian Jews, even in so strict a community as that of Qumran. But when, about the end of the first century A.D., a uniform consonantal text was fixed by Aqiba and his fellow-rabbis, it is clear that they proceeded with sound judgment. It is significant, by the way, that the biblical Hebrew manuscripts found in the Murabba‘at caves, whose presence there evidently dates from the years of the second Jewish revolt against Rome (A.D. 132-135), uniformly exhibit one texttype― the text―type recently standardised by Aqiba and others, the text-type which some

centuries later formed the basis on which the Massoretes worked…

It is difficult to make a definite pronouncement on the limits of the biblical canon recognised

by the Qumran community. It is clear that they recognised the Law and the Prophets as

divinely inspired. The commentaries which are written on those books, or on excerpts from

them, presuppose that they are to be treated as divine oracles, whose interpretation was a

closely-guarded mystery until it was made known in the latter days to the Teacher of

Righteousness. The Psalter was evidently accorded the same recognition as the Law and the

Prophets. But what about the other books in the third division of the Hebrew Bible―the

‘Writings’? We cannot simply infer that they were regarded as canonical from the fact that all

of them (except Esther) are represented in the Qumran literature, for many other books are

represented in the Qumran literature. The Qumran library evidently included many

apocalyptic and pseudepigraphic works which enjoyed considerable prestige in certain

sections of the population of Judaea in those days, such as Jubilees and I Enoch,18 which

appear to be closely related to the distinctive theology of Qumran. It also included fragments

of Tobit (in Aramaic and Hebrew), of Ecclesiasticus (in Hebrew) and, as we have already

mentioned, of the Epistle of Jeremiah (in Greek)…

What can be said about the fact that thus far no fragment of Esther has turned up at Qumran?

Obviously no sound inference can be built upon the argument from silence. Its nonappearance

among the Qumran texts may be accidental. On the other hand, we know that its

right to a place in the sacred canon was questioned in some Jewish quarters,20 as also later in

some Christian quarters,21 and it would not be surprising if it were not accepted at Qumran…

And these

criteria may, with due caution, be used to throw light on ambiguous references in other

Qumran texts. The Qumran commentaries plainly do not give us much help in understanding

the Old Testament. But the serious student of Scripture can never fail to be interested in what

was thought of its meaning by serious students of earlier days; and in this regard the Qumran

commentaries on the Old Testament have opened a new world for our exploration.

#11 Qumran and the New Testament by F.F. Bruce Presidential Address, 2 June 1958

The most varied answers are given when we ask students of the Qumran texts what affinities

exist between these texts and the New Testament. We are told that there are no affinities

whatsoever; we are told that the career and passion of Jesus represent an ‘astonishing

remcarnatiou’1―or, on the other hand, a pale reflection―of the activity and death of the

Teacher of Righteousness; we are told that Jesus Himself was the Teacher of Righteousness

of the Qumran texts, that the men of Qumran were Jewish Christians and that the Wicked

Priest was the Apostle Paul;2 we are told that the Qumran discoveries conclusively prove that

Jesus never existed at all.3

All these answers cannot be true. But the intelligent layman need not stand in bewilderment

before them, wondering which (if any) he is to believe. Much of the material on which these

divergent accounts are based is accessible to him in one or more translations,4 and while some

of these translations are defective in one way or another, he can see that some of the answers

which. are offered to him have little or no substantial foundation, while others deserve more

serious attention.

One difficulty, with which we cannot deal here in detail, concerns the dating not only of the

scrolls but of the original works which they reproduce, and not only of these works but of the

persons and events referred to in them. In particular, to which generation should we assign the

Teacher of Righteousness, the effective founder of the Qumran community? Did he meet his

death under Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.)? Did he flourish under one of the

Hasnnonean rulers; and if so, should we date his ministry in the second half of the second

century B.C. or in the first half of the first century? Or should we bring him down to the

Roman period, even to the point of identifying him with Menahem, son of Judas the

Galilaean, whose attempt to seize supreme power in Jerusalem in the autumn of A.D. 66 came to an end when he was captured and killed by Eleazar, captain of the temple, and his followers?5 It is clear that, to some extent at least, these chronological problems must affect the relevance of the Qumran literature for New Testament studies…

The men of Qumran went out to their wilderness retreat in order to organise themselves as a

new Israel, rather after the fashion of the tribes under the leadership of Moses. The nation as a

whole had proved unfaithful to the covenant with the God of their fathers, but these men

regarded themselves as the righteous remnant of the nation, the hope of the future, a miniature

Israel, whose faithfulness would be accepted by God as a propitiation for the unfaithfulness of

the nation at large. They attached special importance to the maintenance of the priestly and

levitical classes, in order that, when the new age dawned, a pure sacrificial worship might be

restored without delay and administered by those who had not gone astray as the majority of

the priests had done.

The believing community of New Testament times similarly regarded itself as a new Israel, ‘a

remnant, chosen by grace’ (Rom. xi. 5), ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

God’s own people’ (1 Pet. ii. 9). The kingdom of God had been taken away from those who

had shown themselves unworthy of their trust, and given to ‘a nation producing the fruits of

it’ (Matt. xxi. 44). But instead of maintaining distinct priestly and levitical classes, as the

Qumran community did, the Christian community was taught to consider itself corporately as

‘a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet.

ii. 5). Both communities regarded themselves as the people of the new covenant, but the

Qumran community thought of the new covenant as a restoration of the old one.

The Qumran community, moreover, lived in the conviction that the end of the age then

present, the ‘epoch of wickedness’, was at hand. Its thought and life were dominated by this

eschatological conviction…

Here we find a striking parallel with something that is emphasised time and again in the New

Testament. The age of fulfilment has dawned. The prophets who foretold the blessing into

which Christians were to enter ‘searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what

person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the

sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory’ (1 Pet. i. 10 f.). Much had been revealed to

those prophets, but not everything. But those Christians to whom Peter wrote these words had

no need to search and inquire in order to ascertain what person or time was indicated by the

prophecies; they knew. The person was Jesus; the time was the time in which they were

living. Words spoken by Peter on another occasion sum up the early Christian attitude to the

Old Testament: ‘This is what was spoken by the prophet’ (Acts ii. 16). And again: ‘Moses…

and all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days’ (Acts iii. 22, 24)…

Here, then, we have an important point of resemblance between the founder of the Qumran

community and the founder of the Christian community, in that each imparted to the

community which he founded its distinctive principles of Old Testament exegesis. But every

time that we observe a resemblance between the two founders or the two communities, we

observe a contrast within the resemblance; and such a contrast is apparent here. To the early

Christians Jesus was the central theme of Old Testament revelation, which indeed found its

fulfilment in Him. But to the Qumran sectaries the Teacher of Righteousness, while he was

certainly a subject of Old Testament prophecy, was not its central subject; Old Testament

prophecy reached out beyond him for its fulfilment. For Jesus appeared to His followers as

the Messiah, to whole all the prophets bore witness (John v. 39; Acts x. 43); the Teacher of

Righteousness, in spite of the great veneration with which his followers regarded him, was not

the Messiah―not even a Messiah. He was to them pre-eminently just what they called

him―the Teacher of Righteousness…

A number of Qumran documents show us the form which messianic expectation took at

Qumran; and it is reasonable to suppose that the community learned its messianic expectation,

as it learned so much besides, from the Teacher of Righteousness. This expectation was directed towards two distinct individuals who would arise in the end-time―a great priest and

a great king. The great priest, the ‘Messiah of Aaron’, would be the head of the state in the

new age.8 The great king, the ‘Messiah of Israel’, was the promised prince of the house of

David who would lead the people of God to victory over all their enemies in the

eschatological warfare which the prophets had predicted. In the new age he would be

subordinate to the ‘Messiah of Aaron’. With these two Messiahs was associated a third figure,

who did not, however, receive the messianic title; this was a great prophet, the second Moses

of Deuteronomy xviii. 15 ff.

While the Qumran community, to judge by the literature thus far published, never seems to

have reached the point at which they believed the Messiah (or Messiahs) to have come, the

New Testament is dominated by the announcement that the Messiah has come. And while the

Qumran community distinguished the prophet, the priest and the king who were to arise at the

end of the age as three individual personages, the New Testament presents Jesus as the

prophet of whom Moses spoke, the heir to David’s throne, and die perpetual priest of

Melchizedek’s order acclaimed in Psalm cx. 4. The traditional Christian doctrine of the

‘threefold office’ of Christ goes back to the earliest days. Jesus, of course, could not be

regarded as a ‘Messiah of Aaron’ because He did not belong to the tribe of Levi; the one New

Testament document which enlarges on the priestly aspect of His messianic work funds Old

Testament authority for ascribing to Him a greater priesthood than Aaron’s.10…

The Qumran community, too, attached great importance to the Old Testament figures of the

Servant of the Lord and the Son of man, but they do not appear to have interpreted them

messianically…

Considerable interest has been aroused by the discovery of certain affinities of thought and

language between the Qumran texts and St. John’s Gospel.14 However do these affinities may be evaluated, they provide additional

evidence in support of the basically Hebraic character of this Gospel. They must not be

exaggerated; and it might be good to bear in mind that practically every new discovery in

Near Eastern religious literature of the late B.C. and early A.D. epoch has been hailed by

someone as supplying the key to the problem of this Gospel. The Old Testament rather than

the Qumran literature is the sourcebook of the Fourth Evangelist, but it is the Old Testament

as fulfilled by Jesus. The Old Testament is also the source-book of the Qumran literature, but

it is the Old Testament as it had passed through the mind of the Teacher of Righteousness and

perhaps other interpreters of similar outlook. The opposition between light and darkness (to

take one instance of the dualistic phraseology which the Qumran literature and this Gospel

have in common) goes back ultimately to the first chapter of Genesis. Yet the way in which

light and darkness, truth and falsehood, and so forth are opposed in the Rule of the Community, for example, reminds us particularly of the language of the Johamnine Gospel

and Epistles…

Another New Testament document in which affinities have been traced with the Qumran sect

is the Epistle to the Hebrews. Dr. Yigael Yadin, in particular, has argued that the ‘Hebrews’

named in the traditional title of this epistle were Jews originally belonging to the Qumran

sect, who were converted to Christianity but carried with them into Christianity some of their

former beliefs and practices, with which the writer takes issue. Among these beliefs Dr. Yadin

makes special reference to the idea of the angels’ eschatological rôle (Heb. ii. 5), and to the

conceptions of a priestly Messiah and of the prophet to appear in the last days. ‘It is my

sincere hope,’ he says, ‘that more competent students in the field of NT studies will either

refute this suggestion or, if they agree to it―wholly or partially―will submit more data in its

support.’18

In the form in which Dr. Yadin defends his thesis, it probably cannot be sustained. But the

material which he has adduced must be added to the evidence already at our disposal for the

presence in the early Roman church of elements derived from sectarian Judaism. Such

elements are attested, for example, by the Apostolic Tradition ascribed to Hippolytus, early in

the third century A.D. And there is little doubt in my mind that the Epistle to the Hebrews was

written to a Jewish-Christian group in Rome in the sixties of the first century…

These are not the only parts of the New Testament which present parallels with the Qumran

literature. Resemblances between the Qumran community and the milieu in which the First

Gospel took shape have been traced by Krister Stendahl in The School of St. Matthew (1954).

It may well be that some of Luke’s special material was derived from Christian circles sharing

in certain respects the outlook of Qumran. And Paul’s use of the Old Testament occasionally

reminds one of the methods of the Qumran commentators. But these and related fields of

study cannot be surveyed here.

There is some reason to believe that, when the Qumran community was broken up towards

A.D. 70 (as archaeological evidence indicates), some of its members (together perhaps with

members of other Essene groups) made common cause with another body of refugees―the

fugitive Church of Jerusalem which left its doomed metropolis and settled east of the Jordan.

Some of the distinctive features o£ those Ebionites, as they are described by Christian writers

of later generations, could be accounted for in terms of influences exercised by such a body as

the Qumran community.20…

Finally, we should be restrained from premature dogmatism when we consider how

fragmentary is our knowledge of the Qumran community as yet. Indeed, when everything that

has been discovered is published―and this will be the work of years―the realisation that

even that is but a fragment of what the library originally contained will continue to impose

counsels of caution. But one thing is sure: the real differentia of Christianity is the person and

achievement of Jesus (not, as is popularly supposed, His teaching by itself); and the

appreciation of His essential uniqueness which the new knowledge has underscored is likely to be enhanced, not diminished, as further additions are made to this knowledge.

#12 NEW TESTAMENT FRAGMENTS AT QUMRAN? By C. J. HEMER

The recent publication by J. O’Callaghan of suggested identifications

of New Testament texts among the Greek fragments

from Cave 7 at Qumran1. and the early dates assigned to them

on palaeographical grounds will doubtless be rigorously sifted

in every facet.

The purpose of the present note is limited to raising one

question of method. Some of the fragments are very tiny. Would

it be possible to offer alternative identifications of any of them?

I acknowledge the meticulous skill as well as the ingenuity of

the restorations, and allow that when one larger fragment has

been plausibly attributed to Mark the possibility is raised in

other cases. The whole argument will indeed be strengthened

if several associated items, each securely and exclusively identified,

corroborate each other.

It may however be that when one unexpected and attractive

identification has been made it becomes easier in more doubtful

cases to find what one is now looking for. But what sort of

mathematical chances are there against finding suitable letter

sequences in other, even chronologically impossible, texts, and

of producing hypothetical ‘restorations’ to fit them?…

So the essence of the experiment is to evaluate the chances

of finding in any text, irrespective of date, provenance or

content, the sequence EIT followed at a distance of about 20

letters by ΛH, subject only to a plausible manipulation of the

lineation to fit the incidence of word and syllable divisions and

punctuation spaces.

We may note the natural frequency of these groupings,

particularly the first, which is liable to occur freely both within

and between words. (a) The sequence EIT has several contexts,

e.g. (i) in the second person plural contracted –εῖτε; (ii) in the

third person ending -ει-τ- (often an accusative article preceding

the object); (iii) in various conjunctions and adverbs

like εἴτε, εἶτε, ἔπειτα, or in εἰ, ἐπεί + τόν etc.; (iv) in such

formations as πολ(ε)ίτης, ὁπλ(ε)ίτης, and numerous ethnics like

Ἰεροσολυμ(ε)ίτης. The interchange of ι and ει is habitual in

first-century orthography and no special justification of this

case is necessary…

It could

doubtless be shown that the doubtful traces of other letters in

the fragment would exclude the viability of either of these

readings. But the experiment will still serve to make a broader

point. The possibility of two such identically arranged reconstructions

within so short a passage poses a question. The chances

of coincidence are too great. May not any identifications of

such brief fragments be open to the objection that alternatives

are too easy to come by? It may be too easy to find the answer

in Mark if one is seeking it there.

The point may be pressed a little further. If the fragment had

indeed been of 2 Thessalonians, the preservation of the whole

word ἐπιστολῆς would have added nothing to the prospects of

choosing between the two possibilities…

This doubt may however throw into stronger relief the more

impressive case for the assignment of fragments where clearly

legible letters extend over three or four lines. The latitude we

have allowed in line length at once becomes restricted: all must

fit the same norm. And the mathematical chances against

coincidence are multiplied for each additional line. It would be

far harder to locate in a text five lines of two clear letters each,

but if a place is found it is more likely to be correct.

#13 The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Formation of the Canon by Francis I. Andersen

It is now twelve months since Dr. J. Philip Hyatt, in his Presidential address to the Society of

Biblical Literature and Exegesis reviewed the progress of the study of the Dead Sea

materials.1 He expressed one of his challenges in these words: “The whole question of

canonicity, and the date of fixing the canon, will have to be restudied.” The aim of this paper

is to indicate, in a tentative way, some of the matters that might be involved in such a line of

study. The time has scarcely come for aiming at final conclusions, and they will be avoided

here. For one thing, the dust of misleading controversy has scarcely subsided, and further, all

the relevant materials are not yet fully published. Textual criticism is an exacting discipline,

and it will be some time before its results are certain. And even now the literature has become

so extensive that only a specialist could hope to do it justice.2

The situation may be clarified and the difficulty of the task indicated by stating simply that

the Qumran discoveries and related finds have not thrown any direct light on the history of the

formation of the canon of the Old Testament. That is, there is no explicit discussion of the

formal concept of canonicity, and certainly no lists of canonical books. The light that they

throw is indirect, but none the less valuable and significant for that―the danger is that being

less tangible, more elusive, it is more open to misconstruction and misinterpretation, as we

shall see.

It has been fully recognized that these sources help to fill in the background of New

Testament times, supplying needed information about pre-Christian and pre-rabbinic Judaism.

As such their importance cannot be exaggerated. In relation to the canon they show us what

scriptures existed, and in what tests, and, more appositely, how they were regarded and used

by a community of Jewish sectaries of those days. Not much attention seems to have been

paid to the problem of what (tacit) doctrine of scripture was held by the covenanters of

Qumran. The importance of this for the study of New Testament backgrounds is obvious, yet

most writers who have treated this subject have been content to list numerous parallels

between the N. T. and the DSS, and to evaluate the evidence for a closer or remoter

connection between them. While it is important that these small details be clarified early in

our research, the broader and deeper theological issue of revelation and authority within the

two movements needs to be examined. Gaster, for instance, does not include such a point in

his list of similarities between the N. T. and the DSS.3 The same must be said of Murphy’s

recent and admirable review of “The New Testament in the light of the Scrolls and the

Fragments”.4…

All this is a little too theological for our immediate aim of investigation, but it needs to be

said to avoid the danger of seeing too much in outward similarities, and to avoid surprise that

two movements contiguous in space and time, and with so much in common, could yet be two

totally distinct worlds. It was Christ who made the difference, and he transformed everything.

There is nothing like him to be found at Qumran, not even as an extravagant hope. And for us

he has transformed the doctrine of Scripture, even as his gift of his Spirit to the Church has

transformed the role of Scripture in the world.

1. The Qumran covenanters were clearly a Bible-centered, Bible-revering, Bible-studying

sect. There is nothing remarkable about this for Judaism. It is not surprising that there is no

explicit discussion of the extent or nature of their sacred scriptures, since it was probably

taken for granted. Sectaries tend to emphasize their peculiar beliefs to justify their separation,

and the men of Qumran did that too; but scripture was common ground with other Jewish

groups. But is there any indirect way of telling what their Bible was? They owned and used

not only books of the (later) Palestinian Canon, but also many that later found their way into

the so-called Alexandrian Canon, I.e., books recognized by the Roman Church as

deuterocanonical, designated Apocrypha by the Reformed churches. In addition, they had

works of the kind usually called pseudepigraphical, some known from elsewhere, some not

otherwise attested. Besides these they had a literature of their own which was probably the

product of the movement. This last group covers a remarkably wide range of literary

genres―commentary, psalm, handbooks of discipline and of war (?). The movement clearly

attached the greatest importance to the written word, and the archaeological recovery of their

scriptorium in what was evidently the headquarters of this group, discloses the prominence of

copying as an activity of the members.

We do not 2 know how individual members studied the scriptures.6 There is no evidence that they

enjoyed liberty of interpretation or that the sect prized mystical insight or used it as a key to

the meaning of Scripture.7 This shows that they had no notion of the sufficiency of Scripture.

To them study was the inculcation of the esoteric wisdom peculiar to the sect; they were

instructed in the orthodox sectarian interpretations which, while they were imparted to lay

initiants, could not be discussed in public.8…

There is no point in enumerating the evidence here, except in so far as it provides a valuable

introduction to the same issue in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is the way Jesus and his followers

used and quoted scripture that shows what was their Bible. The Law certainly. The Law and

the Prophets are mentioned together very often as if they composed the whole of Scripture. In

one place only in the N.T. are the so-called three divisions referred to (Lk. 24:44), and even

here it is not certain that “the psalms” meant the full set of Writings. Indeed, in the New

Testament, there is no precise name for Holy Scripture. The terms “Law” (given even to a

Psalm), “Prophets” (so that Moses and David are called “prophets”) or both together, seem to

refer at times to the whole body of Scripture, as well as being used more exactly, and the

same formulae of quotation are used indiscriminately for passages from all parts of the Old

Testament.

What makes this New Testament practice so interesting to us is its remarkable similarity to

the references to Scripture in the writings of the Qumran Covenanters.17 The Manual of

Discipline begins with the aims of the movement: “To live in the order of the Community; to

seek God… to do what is good and upright in His sight, in accordance with what He has

commanded through Moses and through His servants the prophets…” There are other places

where the Torah and the Nebi’im are referred to thus in conjunction…

But here, no more than in the New Testament, can we assume that “Prophets” means

precisely the eight books of the later Jewish Canon. It is true that the interest of the group was

focussed particularly on the great prophets, Isaiah being their favourite;23 and in relation to

these two major interests of the Covenanters, the non-prophetic writings of the Old Testament

had less to offer directly, so that their smaller use is understandable. But we cannot conclude

from this that for them the so-called writings were uncanonical, even in whatever sense they would have given to that term.

We shall look at some more tangible evidence for this point in a moment, but before doing so we

must observe in general that the non-biblical writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls abound

with quotations from the length and breadth of Scripture.24 In view of their abundant use of

works later called “Writings”, it is remarkable that they have no term to apply to this group,

unless it be the term “prophets”. This may be considered probable, and if it is true, it means

that the later three-fold distinction did not exist for the Qumranites, and that the term

“Prophets” meant all the Scripture except the Law.25 This is very similar to the New

Testament. We may note, too, that although Josephus mentions three groups, he places

everything outside the Law in the era of prophecy.26…

No trace of Esther has been found among the scrolls.

Another line of investigation will aim at discovering what the Covenanters thought of the text

as such. A clearer notion of a canonical work, and its use as a court of appeal in argument, a

guide to life, a source of proof-texts for dogma, brings naturally an increased concern for its

literal form. There can be no final appeal to a text if there is no agreement as to what the text

is. This enquiry in relation to the people of Qumran must wait until present studies have

permitted us to rewrite the entire history of the transmission of the Hebrew Text. There are

indications that the variations shown by the Dead Sea Scrolls point not to liberty or

carelessness on their part, but to the existence of important text-types which they, for their

part, copied with the utmost fidelity, striving to preserve the purity of the text even in minute

particulars of pronunciation.

The indications of a text of Isaiah with a Babylonian background, the enhancement of the value of many readings hitherto attested only in the versions, and especially the evidence that the Septuagint is a faithful translation of a Hebrew text with Egyptian elements, may enable us not only to push the history of textual transmission back by several centuries, but to infer also that scrupulous copying (and the notion of scripture which demand it) is much older than has been commonly believed Meanwhile, in summary, we may tentatively conclude that while the men of Qumran

recognized the authority of all the main books of the Old Testament, we do not know what

they thought of some of the smaller ones, nor how they compared in their estimation with the

more popular extra-canonical books, some of which they valued highly. All must be placed in

the light of the fact that what mattered to the Covenanters was not the Law and the Prophets

as such, but their own esoteric interpretations of them; these were largely due to the Teacher of Righteousness, and the (Zadokite) priests, and were closely guarded secrets of the order.

They may not have had a rigidly defined canon, but they certainly did not enjoy any liberty in

the matter of belief.

#14 The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewishness of the Gospels by Craig A. Evans Acadia Divinity College

The Jewishness of the Gospels is seen at many points. Jesus is addressed as “Rabbi” (e.g.,

Mk 9:5; 11:21; 14:45 and parallels) or “Rabbouni” (Mk 10:51; Jn 20:16); he has

followers called “disciples” (e.g., Mk 2:15; 3:7; 4:34 and parallels), some of whom he

appoints as “apostles” (e.g., Mk 3:14; 6:30 and parallels), which is a designation in

rabbinic literature of Moses and various prophets “sent” by God (e.g., Exod. Rab. 3.4 [on

Ex 3:12]; 3.14 [on Ex 4:10]);1 and he engages in debates with scribes, Pharisees,

Sadducees, and priests regarding Jewish law and the meaning of Jewish scripture (e.g.,

Mk 2:23–3:6; 7:1–13; 11:27–12:34 and parallels).

Moreover, Jesus proclaims the rule of God and speaks of Israel’s redemption (e.g., Mk 1:14–15 and parallels). Israel’s priority over the nations is assumed (Mk 7:24–30), and is sometimes explicitly asserted (e.g., Mt 10:5–6; 15:24). The geography, topography, and demography of the Jesus story are thoroughly Jewish. Jesus is from Nazareth, is headquartered in Capernaum, teaches by

and frequently crosses the Sea of Galilee, and travels south to Jericho, Judea, and

Jerusalem. Jesus frequents the synagogue, prays, teaches his disciples to pray,2 and

upholds the Jewish law3 (even if his understanding differs from that of his contemporaries4). In short, the Jesus of the Gospels is as Jewish as any figure we know of

from this period.5 The parallels between his teachings and activities and contemporary

Judaism are so numerous that they fill more than 1500 pages in Paul Billerbeck’s

commentary on the Gospels, a commentary based on comparisons with Talmudic and

midrashic literature.6

Not only is Jesus, the central figure of the Gospels, thoroughly Jewish, the Gospels

themselves are Jewish to the core. We see this in the way the Gospel of Matthew begins:

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt

1:1; cf. Gen 5:1, “This is the book of the generations of Adam . . .”), followed by a

genealogy patterned after those found in scripture (Mt 1:2, “Abraham was the father of

Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob . . .” etc.; cf. Gen 5:3, “Adam . . . became the father of

. . . Seth” etc.). Matthew’s infancy narrative goes on to tell of Joseph and dreams,

reminiscent of another well-known Joseph, to whom God communicated through dreams

(cf. Gen 37:5–11; 40:1–19; 41:1–36). Punctuating his narrative with a series of fulfilled

prophecies, the Matthean evangelist tells the story of Jesus Messiah’s infancy in terms of

Moses typology, just as the Lukan evangelist punctuates his version of the infancy with

several canticles, whose contents consist mostly of words and phrases drawn from scripture…

The Dead Sea Scrolls have greatly added to our understanding and appreciation of the

Gospels as Jewish literature. The Scrolls are Palestinian, early, written in Hebrew and

Aramaic, and are unquestionably Jewish. Significant parallels between them and the

Christian Gospels should go a long way in confirming the contention here that the

Gospels are thoroughly Jewish, even if at points they are at variance with aspects of

temple and scribal Judaism as it existed prior to 70 C.E. Relevant examples will be cited

for all four Gospels.

Given its overtly Jewish character we should expect the largest number of important

parallels to be found in Matthew, and this appears to be the case. We may consider four:

the first concerns an interpretive approach to scripture, the second a Semitic genre, the

third an ethical theme, and the fourth a common understanding of a specific collocation

of words and phrases from the prophet Isaiah.

(1) Pesher interpretation in the Scrolls and in Matthew. One of the first intriguing

features of the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls to gain the attention of scholars was

pesher interpretation. Happily, one well-preserved pesher (“interpretation” or

“commentary”) scroll was found in the first cave, discovered in 1947. Line after line of

the first two chapters of Habakkuk are quoted and then explained: “Its interpretation

concerns” some recent event or some event believed to occur soon. The author of the

Habakkuk Pesher systematically equates various events and personages in Habakkuk

with various events and personages in the era of the Qumran community…

(2) Beatitudes in the Scrolls and in Matthew. One of the best-known features in Jesus’

teaching was his stringing together of several beatitudes (Mt 5:3–12 = Lk 6:20–26).

Couplets of beatitudes are attested in Israel’s scriptures and in other Jewish writings from

late antiquity (e.g., Pss 32:1–2; 84:4–5; 119:1–2; Sir 14:1–2; 25:8–9; Tob 13:13–14), but

it was not until the discovery of 4Q525 that we actually had a Jewish text, apart from the

Gospels themselves, that preserves a string of beatitudes…

Scholars debate how many beatitudes originally made up this list. Obviously, there

were at least five (one more than we find in the Lukan collection). It is speculated that

there may have been seven. The structural similarity is interesting, to be sure, but what is

more interesting are the differences between Jesus’ beatitudes and those of 4Q525. The

beatitudes of this Scroll fit the typical wisdom pattern, whereas Jesus’ beatitudes promise

eschatological justice…

(3) Righteousness in the Scrolls and in Matthew. The various forms of “righteous” and

“righteousness” (including “just” and “justice”) occur hundreds of times in the Scrolls.

These words also appear frequently in the Gospel of Matthew. Especially interesting are

the references to the “teacher of righteousness” who comes in the “last days” (e.g., CD

6:10–11, “the one who teaches righteousness in the last days”; cf. 1QpHab 1:13; 7:4).

This authoritative teacher will instruct the faith faithful? in the true understanding of the

law of God. The parallel with the Matthean presentation of Jesus, especially as we see it

in the Sermon on the Mount, is striking….

(4) Works of the Messiah in the Scrolls and in the Gospels. One of the most startling

parallels between the Scrolls and the Gospels is found in 4Q521. This particular Scroll

fragment lends important support to the contention that Jesus did indeed understand

himself in messianic terms.11 In a passage whose authenticity can scarcely be doubted, an

imprisoned and discouraged John the Baptizer sends to Jesus, asking, “Are you he who is

to come, or do we look for another?” To this question Jesus replies: “Go and tell John

what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed

and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to

them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Mt 11:2–6 = Lk 7:18–23). Jesus’

message for John contains allusions to several words and phrases from the book of Isaiah

(e.g., Isa 35:5–6 [blind and lame]; 26:19 [dead]; 61:1–2 [good news]). This material

appears in 4Q521…

There are important points of contact between the Jesus story of Mark and the Dead Sea

Scrolls. Both involve similar understandings of passages of scripture.

(5) Isaiah 40 in the Scrolls and in Mark. Isaiah 40 advances a bold typology whereby

the original exodus serves as a model for a new era of salvation. Just as a way was

prepared in the wilderness long ago, that God’s people could travel from Egypt to the

promised land, so it will happen again – only even better, for there will be no wilderness

wanderings, but a highway leading directly from oppression to redemption. The men of

Qumran understood Isaiah 40:3 in a similar manner. They too cited this passage and

organized a community of covenant renewal in the wilderness of the Dead Sea region…

(6) The Vineyard Parable of Isaiah in the Scrolls and in Jesus. Jesus’ Parable of the

Vineyard (Mk 12:1–9 and parallels) is based on Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard Speaking for the Lord, the prophet Isaiah complained that despite loving care, the

vineyard planted and nurtured on the hill produced worthless grapes. The parable is an

allegory and it is a juridical parable, that is, a parable that induces the hearers to pass

judgment on themselves. The vineyard is Israel, its owner is God, the fruit is the behavior

of Israel. Israel has no excuse: “What more could God do for his people?” Therefore, the

nation may expect judgment. Jesus’ parable presupposes these allegorical features, but

adds tenant farmers to the story and reassigns the guilt: Israel is not at fault, her religious

leaders are; and redirects the judgment: the religious leaders will lose their stewardship…

One might not expect distinctly Lukan contacts with Judaism, given the high probability

that the Lukan evangelist was a gentile. However, perusal of Luke–Acts indicates that

this person was familiar with the synagogue (and he gives us an early description of a

synagogue service in 4:16–30), and evidently knew well significant portions of the Greek

version of scripture. There are two important points of contact with the Dead Sea Scrolls

that can be mentioned briefly.

(7) The announcement of the coming Son of God. The angel announces to Mary: “He

will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give

Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever;

and His kingdom will have no end . . . the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God”

(Lk 1:32–35). These words echo the promise given David: “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever . . . I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me . . . your

house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established

forever” (2 Sam 7:13-16). They also find a remarkable parallel in an Aramaic text from

Qumran: “He shall be called son of the great God, and by his name shall he be named. He

shall be called the Son of God, and they shall call him Son of the Most High . . . their

kingdom will be an eternal kingdom” (4Q246 1:9–2:5). This parallel, which is probably

speaking of the expected Jewish Messiah, demonstrates that in Judaism, in the land of

Israel, and in the Aramaic language, before the time of Jesus and Christian proclamation,

the Messiah was sometimes called the “Son of God…

(8) Fulfilling the Law and inheriting Eternal Life. On one occasion a legal expert

approaches Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life (Lk 10:25–28). When

the man affirms the commandments to love God and to love one’s neighbor, Jesus

assures him, “Do this and you will live” (v. 28). Most interpreters recognize the allusion

to Leviticus 18:5, where the Law of Moses assures Israelites that if a man does the law,

he will live. The problem is that Moses was speaking of life in the land of Israel, not

eternal life. So how does Jesus’ allusion to Leviticus 18:5 provide assurance to the legal

expert that he will inherit eternal life? The answer is found in observing that Leviticus

18:5 was understood in late antiquity as referring both to prosperous life in the promised

land and to life in the world to come…

(9) Dualism in the Scrolls and in John. The dualism found in the Rule of the

Community has especially drawn scholarly attention. Contrasts between light/darkness,

good deeds/evil deeds, and truth/falsehood are found in 1QS 3:13–4:26. A sample of the

passage reads as follows: “[God] allotted unto humanity two spirits that he should walk in

them until the time of His visitation; they are the spirits of truth and perversity. The

origin of truth is in a fountain of light, and the origin of perversity is from a fountain of

darkness. Dominion over all the sons of righteousness is in the hand of the Prince of

light; they walk in the ways of light. All dominion over the sons of perversity is in the

hand of the Angel of darkness; they walk in the ways of darkness” (1QS 3:18–21).

Although Johannine and Qumranian dualism is not identical, there is significant

similarity….

The Judaic character of the New Testament Gospels is illustrated by the nine important

parallels that have been briefly considered. There are many more parallels and points of

contact, some linguistic and technical, that could be added to our discussion. But the

examples that have been considered should be sufficient for the purposes at hand.

 
 
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