Category Archives: science

The Dead Sea Scrolls 4

The Impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J. (2009). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.


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.


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many attempts have been made by modern scholars to identify the inhabitants, using names derived from other historical documents that have revealed the different kinds of Jews who lived in ancient Palestine or Judea…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)…


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


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…


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…


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)…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


The Dead Sea Scrolls-2


On this page we are placing excerpts from different books and lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls. No we are not going to place the story of their discovery on this page. We have become so tired of reading that story and we theorize that the reason that story is repeated in almost every paper and book on the scrolls is that every author thinks no one has heard the story before.

It has been said that if you just read the introduction and conclusion of each book or paper then you have read the whole point of view of the author. We will try to give you more than just the introduction and conclusion but no promises.

#1. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah by W.J. Martin, M.A., Ph.D.  The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 6 Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1

At the conclusion of the Campbell Morgan Lecture for 1953 – a lecture of supreme

significance for the present time – Professor R. V. G. Tasker referred to our appreciation of the

light archaeological, linguistic and textual studies can throw upon the Old Testament. It is with

the last of these, namely textual studies, that this lecture has to do.

The greatest advance in our knowledge of the text of the Old Testament and its transmission has been brought about, not by the work of scholars, but by a chance find by Arab shepherds in 1947 of a collection of manuscripts in a cave near the Dead Sea in Palestine. The manuscript,1 which forms the

subject of this lecture, is the one that has rightly attracted the most attention.

Throughout I shall refer to it simply as the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, although I am well aware that some

scholars are beginning to refer to it as the Qumran scroll, from the name of an ancient

settlement near the cave, but the unrivalled importance of our manuscript and the fact that it

alone contains the whole book of Isaiah makes it well able to maintain its identity under any

designation. I retain the title for yet another reason: out of my high regard for those American

scholars who first used it and who gave the academic world the means of studying the scroll

with a promptness and in an exemplary and magnanimous manner all too rare in the world of


The nature of the find was so sensational and the claimed date of the manuscripts so incredibly

early that it is now easily understandable why some scholars felt that there must somewhere be

a discrepancy in the evidence and that a minute examination of the documents would bring to

light some facts to lower the date to a period with some already familiar landmarks. True we

had documents from pre-Christian times, but, apart from the fragmentary Greek papyrus of Deuteronomy in the Rylands Library from the second century B.C., none of the

Old Testament.

The earliest manuscript of any note belonged to the tenth century. Moreover

the early documents came almost exclusively from one country, Egypt, which enjoys a climate

conducive to the preservation of perishable material such as papyrus and leather. The

provenance of the Dead Sea Scrolls was not likely in itself to indicate for the documents a high


Among the objections raised to the early date of the Scrolls was the fact that guiding lines

were used above the letters.5 From the little we know of the methods of scribes in antiquity we

have no grounds for assuming that this is incompatible with an early date. It is hardly likely

that the scribe in the interest both of symmetry and the best utilisation of space would fail to

avail himself of the services of the ruler or some other lining device such as was used as early

at least as the third millenium.

Caroline R. Williams describing the tomb of Per-Neb (c. 2700 B.C.)

speaks of “lines mapping out the composition by defining the height of the dado and marking

out the borders, the different registers, and the spaces for the long vertically written

inscription,” and again (p. 7) “That a ruler was generally used for the vertical and horizontal

lines seems from their appearance unquestionable.”6 The Kilamuwa inscription (c. 825 B.C.)

has lines above the letters. A fragment of Leviticus, probably much older than the Dead Sea

Scrolls, has guiding lines.7

Although we could not assign with certainty the meaning linear

“ruler” to any word in the Old Testament, there are references in the Talmud both to the

instrument and to the practice of ruling. Rabbi Minjamin said: “The ruling of the Mezuza (the

parchment scroll containing Deut. 6, 4-9 and 11, 13-21 attached to the upper part of the

right-hand door-post of Jewish homes) is a decree of Moses from Sinai.” This is, of course,


In ancient times the human and material elements in transmission were each on occasion

adverse to accurate transmission. The human element, inherently incapable of perfectibility,

was often prone to fall short of accuracy in the making of copies, and the material was

exposed to the ravages of time and the accidents which are the lot of all perishable things.

While the latter factor has often caused major disasters involving total loss, it is probable that,

taking all in all, the human has wrought the greater havoc. Certainly in the field of Old

Testament transmission the fact of the preservation and existence of such a large corpus of

writings would seem to vouch for the lesser evil of the material factor…

Large numbers of the variants in our Scroll (it would be misleading to call them variant

readings) are by their nature void of significance. The mere counting of variants is the

unmistakable badge of the tiro in the field of textual criticism. Variants go by weight not by

number, they are evaluated not enumerated. To the class of insignificant variants belong in the

first place the orthographical, that is, those that involve differences in spelling only. Such

variants surprise only print-conscious readers, prone to forget the vicissitudes of their own

spelling until the printing-presses imposed on them the present mechanical uniformity. In a

modern text there is not much grist of this kind left for our above mentioned tyro (his identity

has remained unchanged, despite the change, deliberate but still correct, in spelling).

Both “Ihoauerd” and “louerd” would seem to us now outlandish modes of spelling “lord”, but they

evidently did not perplex a man of the thirteenth century. Of all such variants textual criticism

takes little or no cognizance. The lavish use of vowel-letters (consonants used to indicate

vowels; Hebrew script originally possessed no special signs for these) contributes largely to the

multiplication of such variants. On this point some scholars seem to have completely lost sight

of the fact that vowel-letters are in origin not intrusive but residual: they arose in the first

instance through certain of these letters losing their consonantal value, this in turn leading to

changes in the vowel-pattern; for instance, through the crasis of the vowels thus brought into

contact, disyllables emerged as monosyllables. The spelling with the retention of the “extinct”

consonant was hence the product of etymology and not of phonetics. Thus began a system that

later could acquire, often disregarding the dictates of philology, the dimensions we now see in

our present manuscript.

We can eliminate on the score that they too are devoid of significance, those variant forms

that give practically, if not precisely, the same meaning as the forms which they replace.

Under this heading come in the first place synonyms or near synonyms…

The very discussion of such questions indicates how complete is the re-orientation which has

taken place. We no longer ask what is the relation of our Manuscript to a recension of 100

A.D. Our Scroll takes us so far beyond this point, that questions, which a short while ago held

a central place in the problem of transmission, have now little more than antiquarian interest.

This manuscript has added not only one new and earlier point, on the line of transmission, it

has indirectly provided still another two: that of its model, and that of the archetype from

which came the liturgical and the lay families of manuscripts.

There is now nothing to prevent anyone who feels so inclined from believing that if this line were projected backwards it would end in an autograph similar in all essentials to the text that has been transmitted to us. Sir Frederick Kenyon, that great scholar, whose range of vision in the field of manuscripts was unequalled, indicated unerringly the central problem when he said: “The great, indeed

all-important, question which now meets us is this – Does this Hebrew text, which we call

Massoretic, and which we have shown to descend from a text drawn up about A.D. 100

faithfully represent the Hebrew text as originally written by the authors of the Old Testament

books?”35 He believed even then that an affirmative answer was possible. Little did he or

anyone dream that a day would come when a witness of such ancient lineage and high

credentials would appear with evidence to convince many that his question will no longer

brook the answer no.
#2. The Dead Sea Scrolls and St. John’s Gospel by Leon Morris, B.Sc., M.Th., Ph.D.

The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 12 Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1

The Pharisees, being sensible men, did not bother themselves with perpetuating ideas they

knew to be wrong. Anticipating the excellent practice of our modern scientists they discarded

ideas that were shown to be false (or that they held had been shown to be false), and

concentrated on those that were true. They held that the distinctive ideas of the Sadducees and

the Essenes were erroneous, so they piously eschewed propagating them. This would be of no

more than passing interest to us were it not for the fact that in time the Pharisees became the

dominant party within Judaism. Jewish writings became to all intents and purposes Pharisaic

writings. The Rabbinic literature by and large sets forth Pharisaic ideas. We see other Jewish

groups not as they saw themselves, but through Pharisaic eyes. None of their writings were

copied by the Pharisees, which is both understandable and unfortunate. New Testament

scholars have had to be content with a monolithic Judaism.

The great value of the Dead Sea scrolls for New Testament studies is that for the first time we

are able to read the views of a Jewish sect other than the Pharisees from within. Whatever be

the dates of composition of these documents they let us see something of a sect which was in

existence at the time the Christian movement began, and to see it in the sect’s own writings.

Not surprisingly some of the terms and ideas in the scrolls are found also in the New

Testament. This has led to the most diverse estimates of the relationship between the two.

Some stress the resemblances. They think of Christianity as nothing more than a natural

development of the type of religion we see reflected in the scrolls.1 Some even think of the

scrolls as Christian documents.2 Others concentrate their attention on the differences. They

think that there is no significant connection between Christianity and the scrolls.3 We cannot complain of lack of variety in the views put forward.

By common consent there is no part of the New Testament with more points of contact with

the scrolls than the Gospel according to St. John,4 and it is with these contacts that we shall

concern ourselves in this lecture. We shall examine some of the common terminology and

ideas, and try to estimate the significance of the scrolls for the understanding of the Fourth


There are some resemblances of style and general approach. The style of John is notoriously

different from that of the Synoptic Gospels. It is more like that of part, at any rate, of the

scrolls than is that of the Synoptic Gospels. Cross finds this resemblance so striking that he

thinks of the origins of John’s style as being found among the sectarians.5 The estimate of style

is a subjective thing, but I think that Cross goes too far here. The sectarians wrote in Hebrew

or Aramaic and John in Greek, albeit a Greek which shows Aramaic influence…

What shall we say then of the relation between the Fourth Gospel and the scrolls? In the first

place, that there is a tremendous gap106 between them. In this lecture we have been concerned

to consider only those points where there is some relation, and this may easily give the

impression that the two are closer than in point of fact they are. But to read the whole of the

Qumran documents, including the detailed regulations in the Manual of Discipline and the

Rule of the Congregation, the curious exegesis of the various commentaries, the martial

regulations of the War Scroll, and all the rest, is to be transported into a different world.

It is true that in some of the Thanksgiving Psalms we come in contact with a spirit not out of

harmony with that of the men of the New Testament, but this fleeting glimpse of better things

serves only to underline the fact that basically the sect is concerned with different purposes

from those that underlie Christian service. This great gap should not be overlooked.

Yet when full allowance has been made for it the coincidences of language and thought are

striking. There are far too many of them for us to assume that they are accidental, the result of

mere chance. It is asking too much to assume that at roughly the same time, and in roughly the

same part of the world two different groups of men independently evolved the same

terminology and thought of the same ideas. It is much more likely that there was some point of


Yet the relationship can hardly be one of direct dependence. We have seen how at point after

point, even where John and the covenanters are using similar language and dealing with similar

concepts, there are vast differences. Again it is too much to assume that John had the Qumran

writings before him, and that as he borrowed their language and concepts he systematically

distorted their sense.

What the relationship was we cannot be sure at this distance in time. But it was surely indirect.

We may conjecture (though I stress that it is no more than conjecture) that the connection

came through John the Baptist. W. H. Brownlee has pointed out that “Almost every detail of

the Baptist’s teaching in both the Synoptic and the Fourth Gospels has points of contact with

Essene belief”107 (he identifies the Qumran sect with the Essenes). Now the Gospels tell us

that John’s parents were old when he was born (Lk. 1. 18), and that “the child… was in the

deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Lk. 1. 80).

What being “in the deserts” means is difficult to establish. If it means that John was brought up there then the conclusion seems inescapable that he was brought up by some such sect as the men of Qumran (Josephus tells us that the Essenes adopted other people’s children and brought them up). While we have no evidence for this there is nothing at all improbable in it. John’s parents were old and may well have died while the child was young, leaving no one to look after him. Alternatively, realizing their age and incapacity, they may have handed him over. The connecting link in either case would be the very high regard the Qumran men had for those of priestly stock. If this is not what happened at least being “in the deserts” means that John was in those parts where the sectarians lived, and he would have some knowledge of them. Either way he would have some knowledge of the teaching of the sect, in the one case a full and complete knowledge, in the other case a partial knowledge.

Whichever be the truth he rebelled against Qumran’s distinctive message, for his recorded

teaching contradicts some of the essential ideas of the scrolls, even though it shows points of

contact. But he did have the terminology of the sect and some of its ideas.

Now John 1. 35ff. makes it clear that some of the first disciples of Jesus came out of the circle

that gathered round John the Baptist. This gives us a natural channel whereby some of the

sect’s terms and ideas may have flowed into Christianity. Especially would this be the case if

the unnamed disciple of John 1. 35, 40 was the beloved disciple (as has been widely held).

Thus the ideas and language of the covenanters would have come to the author of the Gospel,

but only at second hand, and that per medium of one who was no longer a member of the sect

even if he ever had been. He would not produce its teaching with anything like exactness. This

would account for the fact that the Evangelist reproduces Qumran language sometimes with

minute exactness, while at the same time his basic thought is poles apart from theirs.108

It remains for us to consider the importance of the scrolls for an understanding of the Fourth


#3. The Dead Sea Scrolls  by William Priestly

Archaeology, being “concerned with the recovery of the remains of ancient civilisations”1 is

an unusual science in that, although it “deals with concrete objects and employs exact

measurements”,2 the many possible interpretations of data make it a less exact science than

chemistry, for example. However, having recognised it limitations we can see that

archaeological finds have made many important contributions to our study of the OT.

Edwin Yamauchi writes that,

The historical facts of the Bible, rightly understood, find agreement in the facts culled from

archaeology, equally rightly understood, that is, the majority or errors can be ascribed to errors of

interpretation by modern scholars and not to substantiated ‘errors’ of fact presented by the biblical

historians. This view is further strengthened when it is remembered how many theories and

interpretations of Scripture have been checked or corrected by archaeological discoveries.3

One of the most significant archaeological finds is the library of the Qumran Community: the

Dead Sea Scrolls. It is certainly “one of the few great archaeological discoveries to have

excited public imagination and interest”.4 This is perhaps due to the challenges the find made

to Biblical scholarship, or perhaps because of the light these documents threw upon the early

history of Judaism and Christianity…

Although no manuscripts were found at Khurbet Qumran, there was evidence of links between

the caves and the buildings. When the ruins were excavated, identical pottery types to the

ones found in the caves were discovered. Coins were also found which “corresponded with the

period to which the palaeographers were assigning the manuscripts”.5 As more and more

evidence was unearthed “it became clear that Qumran was, after all, the home of the

community which had written the scrolls”…

However, even though some of the information from the scrolls appears to have been written

by members of the fellowship, we know relatively little about its beginnings, “since in its

writings the community displays little awareness of, or interest in its own evolution”.7

In looking at the DSS, scholars have tried to understand as much as possible concerning the

people who owned them. The excavators revealed that there had been several stages of

occupation. There originally was a small settlement at Qumran several hundred years before

the time of Christ, but that established by the Community founded by the ‘Teacher of

Righteousness’, was built some time in the middle of the second century BCE. From that time,

until the Romans captured it in 68 CE, it was almost continually occupied by this group that

had broken away from traditional Judaism.

Around the beginning of the first century BCE, the settlement was considerably enlarged.

Archaeological evidence has shown that the settlement was destroyed by fire around 30 BCE.

This may have been due to an earthquake that occurred in 31 BCE. Several hundred coins

found in the excavations date the limits of the main period of occupation from 135 BCE to 68

CE. The area seems to have been occupied briefly by two other groups, following the actual

break-up of the Community. It would appear that it was used as a Roman fort until 74 CE, and

again in the 2nd century by Jewish fighters…

The scrolls themselves teach us about the Qumran Community, and provide insights to both

the Old and New Testaments.

The extent of the find is quite staggering! Hershel Shanks writes that “caves 1, through 3 and

5, though 10, yielded 212 complete or fragmentary texts. Cave 11 contained 25 texts…

Fitzmyer has concluded that either 520 or 521 texts from cave 4 have been identified”.22

There are documents written in both Phoenician and Aramaic script, and a small amount in

Greek. There are some fragments from the Book of Daniel that show the change from Hebrew

to Aramaic, and Aramaic to Hebrew. Ernst Wurthwein writes, “Qumran experts are agreed

today that the texts in the Old Hebrew script come from the same period as the texts in the

square script. It is possible that this script which was preserved from the pre-exilic period

enjoyed a renaissance in the Maccabean period with its surge of nationalism”.23 The forms of

the letters represented in the texts are from “a period in the history of the alphabet”24 from

which we have few specimens and certainly none written on leather or parchment. There are

certain peculiarities in the spelling and grammar that perhaps reflects the pronunciation of

Hebrew at the time when the manuscripts were copied.

Palaeography, the study of the script employed by the scribes, can date “the earliest Qumran

fragments from about 200 B.C.,”25 but this is only the date of the copy of the manuscript. The

dating of the composition of the book itself is much more difficult to determine. Yet the copies

can and do have some historical and scholarly significance. It would be impossible to look at

all the texts represented by the fragments found in the Qumran caves within the limits we

have, especially as “there was no single form of the text which was regarded and transmitted as exclusively authoritative. These texts presented us for the first time with a large number of


Firstly, there are two Isaiah scrolls, one of which contains all sixty-six chapters of Isaiah dating

from 150 BCE. This scroll is made of leather strips sewn together and is approximately 24 feet

long . It is considerably worn and was obviously much used. There are places where mistakes

in the copying have been erased or crossed out, and even points where another hand has noted

omissions in the margin.

There are some points where this text differs from the Masoretic Text (MT) of Isaiah, but on

the whole, it has helped bring understanding on some minor difficulties of interpretation, but

“by and large the wording of the text is substantially the same as that of the Masoretes”.28 It is

an exciting find because it is approximately one thousand years older than the oldest Isaiah

manuscripts available before 1947, and the fact that it is not split into three parts (as some

have attempted to do with this book) shows that the unity of Isaiah (if it was ever disunited)

was established by scribes around 175 BCE.

The other Isaiah scroll, though more fragmentary, due to the leather having disintegrated, is

important because, unlike the ‘St. Mark’s Monastery Isaiah Scroll’, this one “does not differ

essentially from the Masoretic text any more than do its representatives in the late medieval


Another important book to the Qumran Covenanters was Daniel. F.F. Bruce writes, “there are

grounds for thinking that a century before the beginning of the Christian era at least one group

of Jews – the men of Qumran – gave serious thought to the study and interpretation of the book

of Daniel.”30 It is fortunate that in one of the manuscripts, we have both Daniel 2:4 and 8:1,

the passages that show the change from Hebrew to Aramaic and Aramaic to Hebrew

respectively. This shows that the change “was a characteristic of the text in its earliest extant

form.”31 There is also a fragment containing Daniel 3:23, which in the Septuagint contains “a

long addition; a prayer, a prose description of their deliverance and a hymn, commonly known

as the Benediate.”32 That this is not included in the Qumran fragment shows that the addition

would not have been part of the original…

There have also been comparisons made between such books as Zechariah and Ecclesiastes

and the sectarian literature of the Qumran community that have indicated earlier datings for

these books. Some finds, such as those pieces from the book of Leviticus, which are some of

the oldest fragments of Biblical books that we have, agree almost entirely with the Masoretic

Text of Leviticus, and support the authority of the MT. “Even when the Dead Sea fragments

of Deuteronomy and Samuel which point to a different MS family from that which underlies

our received Hebrew text do not indicate any differences in doctrine or teaching.

Finally a fragment that concerns us as Evangelical Christians is from a MS written in a third

century BCE cursive hand, containing portions of the 12 Minor Prophets. The part in question

contains Micah 5:2, where the prophet names the birthplace of the Messiah as being

Bethlehem. That this copy of the book of Micah can be dated over two hundred years earlier

than the birth of Christ totally refutes scholars claims that it was written after His birth. This

find has been described as “one of the greatest manuscript discoveries of all time”.40 As can

be seen from the above examples, the scrolls of Qumran have indeed aided us in our Biblical


The DSS also tell us some things concerning the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the

Hebrew Bible. Biblical fragments have been found in the Qumran caves, which have a

Hebrew text that is closer to the LXX than to the MT. This tells us that around the turn of the

century there were various Hebrew texts in existence, and the LXX may have come from “a

different Hebrew Text belonging to what we may call the Proto-Septuagint family”.42 This

would explain some of the differences between the MT and the LXX.

Most notable, however, are two scrolls that were part of the original find in cave 1. The first of these is the Habakkuk Commentary that is a verse by verse exposition of chapters one and two of this book.

There are many historical allusions in this scroll, though they assume understanding of events

at the time and they are “exasperatingly vague references”.43 It has been possible to

understand some of what this scroll says and it is “of special religious and historical

significance, because like the Manual of Discipline and other Qumran texts, it is a source of

new information about a religious movement in pre-Christian Judaism”…

There has also been much debate about the archaeological find at the Dead Sea, many scholars

have put pen to paper to express their views and complaints about fragments that remain

unpublished over forty years after the discovery of the first scrolls. Opinions vary from such as

that expressed by M. Burrows, who writes: “for the interpretation and theology of the Old

Testament they have relatively little value”.46.

to those who agree with Edwin Yamauchi that the flood of literature that has emerged following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is eloquent testimony to the importance which scholars have attached to this remarkable phase of archaeology.

No work dealing with the Bible generally can now be regarded with any seriousness if it fails to

take into account the significance of the Qumran discoveries for its own particular area of study.47

Although some of the finds at the Dead Sea merely confirmed previous theories, there have

been some finds at Qumran that have given new understanding and information to our study of

the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. “The covenanters rendered a service to Biblical

scholars by making and preserving manuscripts of the Bible, even though most of these have

survived only in small scraps”.

#4. The Dead Sea Habakkuk Scroll by Professor F. F. Bruce, M.A., D.D.

The Dead Sea Habakkuk Scroll (1Q p Hab.) is one of the four scrolls from Qumran Cave I

which were obtained in June 1947 by the Syrian Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem and

subsequently (February 1955) purchased by the state of Israel.

The scroll, which contains 13 columns of Hebrew writing, consists of two pieces of soft

leather sewn together with linen thread between columns 7 and 8. The columns are about 10

centimetres wide; the scroll was originally about 160 centimetres long. The first two columns,

however, are badly mutilated, as is also the bottom of the scroll; this produces an undulating

break. along the bottom when the scroll is unrolled. The present maximum height of the scroll

is 13.7 centimetres; originally it may have been 16 centimetres high or more.

Palaeographical estimates of the age of the scroll vary by some decades, but a date around the

middle of the first century B.C. or shortly afterwards is probable.

The scroll contains the text of the first two chapters of Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk, as

we know it, consists of two documents: (a) ‘The oracle of God which Habakkuk the prophet

saw’ (chapters 1 and 2), and (b) ‘A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth’

(chapter 3). Our scroll quotes one or several clauses from the former document, and supplies a

running commentary on the words quoted; but it does not contain the text of the second

document, nor, does it make any comment on it. It is plain from the scroll that it never

reproduced or expounded the third chapter of Habakkuk, for the original ending is clear for all

to see. The omission of all reference to the ‘prayer of Habakkuk’ is not due to any idea that

such a psalm was unsuitable material for a commentary of the kind that is supplied for the

‘oracle’ of Habakkuk (commentaries of this kind on the Psalter and other biblical poems have

been found at Qumran); it is due, more probably, to the fact that Habakkuk’s ‘prayer’ was considered to be a separate work, quite distinct from his ‘oracle’.

After quoting a section of the text of Habakkuk, our commentator says: ‘Its interpretation

concerns…’―and then proceeds to give its meaning as he sees it, mainly in terms of persons

and events of his own time, or of the times immediately preceding and following his own. The

Hebrew word rendered ‘interpretation’ here is pesher, and from its frequency and distinctive

usage in this commentary, it has come to be used of the commentary as a whole and of others

belonging to the same class. Quite a number of such pěshārîm have been found in the Qumran

caves, but this commentary on Habakkuk is not only the first to be known, but it is the most

complete of those that have come to light thus far.

It is, besides, of more than ordinary interest because it remains our chief source for some of

the most fascinating problems of Qumran study―the character and identity of the Teacher of

Righteousness (the founder and leader of the Qumran community), and his relations with various opponents, such as the Wicked Priest, the house of Absalom, the Man of Falsehood

and the Seekers after Smooth Things; together with the identity of the Kitti’im, the brutal

Gentile power whose domination of Judaea is regarded as a divine nemesis on the wicked

rulers of the land…

We can best understand the .book of Habakkuk when we read it in the light of its historical

setting in the reign of Jehoiakim (608-598 B.C.). We have it on excellent contemporary

authority that Jehoiakim was guilty of oppression and violence. (Jeremiah xxii 13-17).

Habakkuk complains to God about the oppression and violence which are rife in the nation,

and God tells him that the Chaldeans are being raised up to be the executors of his judgment

against the unrighteous rulers of Judah. But Habakkuk has to renew his complaint before

long, for the Chaldeans are acting with even greater brutality and impiety than those upon whom they executed God’s judgment.

This time God tells him that the Chaldeans, too, will be dealt with when they have served his purpose; righteousness will one day be established throughout the earth, but for the present the prophet and those like-minded must exercise patience and trust in God: ‘the righteous shall live by his faith’ (Habakkuk ii 4).

While exegetes may differ on details, the prophecy of Habakkuk is generally coherent and

intelligible when interpreted along these lines…

It is evident that the Teacher of Righteousness of the Habakkuk commentary and related texts

was the effective founder of the Qumran community; his was the original and creative mind

which stamped its impress on the whole brotherhood. But the movement led by Menahem,

and by Eleazar ben Jair after him, received its distinctive character not from either of them but

rather from Menahem’s father Judas and from Judas’s colleague Sadduk. If Menahem’s party

was indeed the Qumran community, then either Judas or Sadduk would be a better choice for

identification as he great Teacher of Righteousness.

Some of the Qumran documents were composed a considerable time after the Teacher of

Righteousness was ‘gathered in’ (an expression more suitable for a natural death than for the

way in which Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair died). But less than two years elapsed between

Menahem’s death and the destruction of the headquarters at Qumran, according to Père de

VAUX’s reading of the archaeological evidence; less than seven years elapsed between

Menahem’s death and the fall of Masada, the last outpost of his followers.

Dr. ROTH suggests that the Damascus residence of the community is to be literally

understood, and that it is to be dated between 4 B.C. and A.D. 6. But if it was in the literal

Damascus that the community found refuge at that time, it is surely to that time that the

Zadokite work must be ascribed. Yet in the Zadokite work the Teacher of Righteousness is

already dead: twice over he is said to have been ‘gathered in’,21 and in the second of these

passages about forty years elapse between his ‘gathering in until the destruction of all the men

of war who returned with the Man of Falsehood’. Dr. ROTH’s identification of the Man of Falsehood with Simon bar Giora is, fortunately, only tentative; if it were put forward as an

integral part of his reconstruction it would increase the complication still more. The

complication is acute enough already, unless the Teacher of Righteousness introduced at the

beginning of the Zadokite work is a different person from the Teacher of Righteousness in the

Habakkuk commentary.

Above all, it seems impossible to reconcile Dr. ROTH’s view with the palaeographical

evidence. The discovery of a number of dated manuscripts at Murabba’at has made it possible

to establish not only a relative, but an absolute; chronology for the Qumran manuscripts. If

the manuscript of the Habakkuk commentary was copied as late as A.D. 25―the latest date

which palaeographers have suggested for it (and it was probably copied half a century before that)―the composition of the work itself can have been no later; and the clash between the Wicked Priest and the Teacher of Righteousness was an event of the past when the commentator wrote.

Dr. ROTH’s thesis is attractive and stimulating, and one can only admire the skill and vigour

with which it has been presented. But the view which will ultimately triumph will do equal

justice to the internal evidence as interpreted by historians and philologists, to the

archaeological evidence as interpreted by archaeologists, and to the palaeographical evidence

as interpreted by palaeographers. It cannot be said that Dr. ROTH’s view does this.

#5. The Scrolls and the Scribes of the New Testament by Joseph H. Dampier Johnson City, Tennessee

The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls has brought with it an intense interest in the Essenes.

That the existence of this party or confraternity which is designated by Josephus as a

philosophic sect must have continued in Palestine with the Pharisees and Sadducees into the

period described in the Gospels is almost universally taken for granted. Then why are there no

Essenes in the New Testament?

The Qumran Community must have existed near the Dead Sea from at least 100 B.C. to 68

A.D. It is not mentioned in the Gospels. The size of the cemetery would indicate a sizable


The solution most generally accepted is that the Essenes and the Qumran covenanters were

the same people and, if not identical, were so closely identified that the one is a part of the


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 Qumran sectaries (perhaps known in Josephus as the Essenes) are known in the New

Testament as the Scribes. The Qumran Community hid a library of Biblical and non-Biblical

manuscripts, and the ruins of the monastery has a scriptorium with desks still in place. It is

rather obvious that they were scribes.

Qumran was a community of scribes, but were the Scribes of the Gospels connected with the

Qumran Community? Or, were they, in some way that we do not yet understand, indirectly


The Manual of Discipline and some other references in the Dead Sea Scrolls form the

connecting link of evidence which shows us the same sect. While the New Testament never

uses the term ‘Essene’, Josephus is almost equally silent about ‘Scribes’, for with the

exception of “holy scribes” in Jewish Wars and a single use of grammateus in Contra Apion

where it is not translated Scribe he makes little use of the term.

The first question that must be answered is whether the Scribes were a party or a profession.

In the Old Testament the Soferim were 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 amanuensis 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 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 Testamen

In nine of the fifty-five appearances of the Scribes in the Synoptics Scribes and Pharisees are

identified together. The Pharisees are known as a religious party. If the Scribes are not a

religious party, then the uniting of the two words might seem to be incongruous. It would be

similar to our referring to the Presbyterians and the printers. It might also be significant that

Scribes are never so linked with the Sadducees, This then indicates a religious community

that had a greater affinity for Pharisaic doctrine than for Sadducean.

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. During the last week Scribes and Pharisees seem to have separated and

the Scribes and Priests to have formed an alliance. Unless the Scribes were a separate

religious group, how did they do this?

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.)…

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…

The idea that the Scribes are a party is presented by M. Jaques Basnage in his “History of the

Jews”. M. Basnage apparently had personal connections with the Koraites who believed

themselves to be the original Scribal Party who divided from the Pharisees because they

would not recognize the Oral Law and later the Mishna.

The Koraites also differed as to the calendar. They believed that only when the new moon

appeared and was observed could the month begin, and so outlawed the use of astronomical


The Koraites settled such disputes by an appeal to “Three able persons” and regarded

authority as “divided between the High Priest and a Prophet, but the prophet was not a man

inspired from heaven as Moses or Isaiah, but a skillful and experienced man”. P. 107…

The considerable number of scholars who have pointed out such connections do not seem to

have considered the claims of the Koraites that they were originally “Scribes, lawyers, and

doctors of the law.” Which, coupled with the idea of an authorative but uninspired prophet

brings up some interesting possibilities as to the teacher of righteousness and gives a possible

Post-Biblical link between the Qumran people and the Scribes of the New Testament.

#6. Jewish Apocalyptic and the Dead Sea Scrolls by H. H. Rowley

D.D., F.B.A. Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature in the University of Manchester

The Ethel M. Wood Lecture delivered before the University of London on 12 March 1957

The first of the texts to be published in full was the Habakkuk Commentary,7 and

this immediately turned the attention of scholars to a work which Solomon

Schechter first published in 1910, under the title Fragments of a Zadokite Work.8

This work had come down in two mediaeval manuscripts found in the Cairo

Genizah,9 which in part overlapped and in part supplemented one another.

Much discussion had followed its publication, and wide differences of opinion had been

expressed as to the date of the composition of the work and the particular Jewish

group from which it had come.10 It was generally believed that the mediaeval copies

were of a much older work, and the view that it came from a pre-Christian date was

taken by a number of scholars.11 It contained references to a Teacher of Righteousness,

who was at once connected with the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned

in the Habakkuk Commentary, when that commentary became available, and the

view that the Zadokite Work and the Habakkuk Commentary were both products of

the Qumran sect was widely shared. Since then fragments of the Zadokite Work

have been found in the Qumran caves,11a and it is now generally accepted that in all

discussions of the Qumran sect the Zadokite Work as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls

must be taken into account…

All this means that the Scrolls and the Zadokite Work should be studied together in

relation to our other surviving non-Biblical texts coming from Palestine in the two

centuries preceding the Christian era. But first it is necessary to establish that the

relevant texts of the Qumran sect are all of pre-Christian origin. I have already said

that we must not assume this, since the sectarian works might have been composed

at any time down to the deposit of the Scrolls in the caves…

The Teacher of Righteousness is not mentioned in all of the texts, but figures

especially in the commentaries and in the Zadokite Work. From the somewhat

cryptic manner in which he is referred to, it would appear that the first readers of

the texts might be expected to understand the situation presupposed more easily

than we can, and therefore that these texts were composed fairly close to the time

of the Teacher. So far as the Zadokite Work is concerned, this is confirmed by the

fact that the coming of the Messiah of Aaron and Israel seems to have been

expected about forty years after the gathering in of the Teacher of Righteousness.14

It would therefore seem to be clear that this work was composed within forty years

of his death. In the pre-Christian period three principal dates for the life and work

of the Teacher of Righteousness have been proposed.

The Manual of Discipline is less easy to place in relation to the Teacher of

Righteousness, who is not referred to in it. The Teacher of Righteousness seems to

have given authoritative interpretation of the Law to his followers,15 but he is not

said to have organized the sect. In the Zadokite Work there is reference to one

called the Star,16 who appears to have led the sect to Damascus,17 and he must have

lived and been the leader of the sect within forty years of the death of the Teacher.

Whether he is the author of the Manual of Discipline, however, we have no means

of knowing.

In the Zadokite Work we find reference to the Book of Hagu,18 which

seems, therefore, to have been in existence within forty years of the death of the

Teacher of Righteousness. In a fragment related to the Manual of Discipline, which

came from Cave I, there is another reference to the Book of Hagi, as it is called

here.19 This fragment is not a part of the work called the Manual of Discipline, and

there is some reason for thinking that it is earlier than the Manual. Its editor notes

that the congregation of the sect is here organized on a more military basis than the

community of the Manual, and he finds the fragment to reflect a situation which

recalls the congregation of the Hasidim described in I Maccabees, while the

Manual suggests an organization nearer to that of the Essenes as described by our

ancient authorities.20

The Manual may therefore be a revised manual, reflecting a later stage of the organization of the sect, perhaps based on earlier manuals, and its date in relation to the work of the Teacher of Righteousness is more problematical…

The First Book of Enoch is commonly divided into several sections, which are variously

dated. Charles dates chapters vi-xxxvi and the Apocalypse of Weeks (xciii. 1-10, xci. 12-17) in the pre-Maccabaean period,28 but I have elsewhere shown that his reasons are not

convincing, or even always self-consistent, and have argued for a Maccabaean date for these

sections.29 For chapters xci-civ, with the exception of the Apocalypse of Weeks, Charles

favours the period of Alexander Jannaeus.30 But here again Frey argues for a Maccabaean

date,31 and I think this is the more probable.32 For chapters xxxvi-lxxi, the Similitudes of

Enoch, Charles argues for a date in the first century B.C., either between 94 and 79 B.C., or

between 70 and 64. B.C.,33 and for lxxxiii-xc he puts a terminus ad quem of 161 B.C.34

Here once more Frey offers strong reasons for supposing that the Similitudes should be placed

in the previous century, and reflect the background of the Maccabaean age.35 He would assign the composition to a date soon after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164. B.C.36 He therefore concludes that all the principal sections of I Enoch come from the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, or shortly after his death,37 and this view seems to me to be convincing…

The Similitudes of Enoch raise problems of Christian interpolation and of the interpretation of their figure of the Son of Man. In the book of Daniel the Son of Man is a figure symbolizing the saints as invested with power in the coming kingdom,44 and there are some who think the Son of Man is here also a collective symbol.45 Others hold that he is a transcendental figure, a pre-existent

individual.46 For our purpose this is not material, since nothing of this character can

be found in the Scrolls. The term Anointed One, or Messiah, is found in the

Similitudes,47 but there is nothing to indicate that he is a human deliverer, and again

the view has been expressed that this is a collective figure.48

The book of Jubilees is commonly dated in the second century B.C.49 Albright50 and

Zeitlin51 have argued for earlier dates, but some years ago I offered reasons for

rejecting that view.52 Amongst the practices on which the book of Jubilees lays emphasis is the keeping of the Sabbath,53 which was prohibited by the Seleucid authorities in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.54 The observance of the Jewish food laws is also enjoined,55 and we know that in the time of Antiochus there was a vigorous effort to compel the Jews to eat unclean foods.56 It will be remembered that Dan. i is concerned with the same question. The author of Jubilees complains of

idolatry,57 and this again was an issue in the age of Antiochus,58 when the Temple

was profaned and an idol altar set up in the Temple…

Unlike the book of Daniel, the book of Jubilees gives no hint of any resurrection

from the dead. It contemplates an immortality of bliss for the righteous in the

hereafter, while their bones rest in the earth.72 The descendants of Levi are promised

both ecclesiastical and religious power.73 This does not appear to reflect approval of

the position under the Hasmonaeans, when civil and religious power was in priestly

hands, since immediately afterwards Judah is described as a prince over Jacob, who

should be feared by the Gentiles, and who should sit on the throne.74 It would seem

that the thought is that the king should be subordinate to the priest.

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs again raise questions of integrity and

interpolation, as well as of date. A recent study by a Dutch scholar has argued for a

post-Christian date, later than the date of the deposit of the Scrolls in the caves.75

Charles, on the other hand, argues for a date towards the end of the second century B.C., between 109 and 107 B.C.76 Pfeiffer

more broadly ascribes the work to a date between 140 and 110 B.C.,77 while Frey

assigns it to the second half of the second century B.C.78

Too many vexed questions surround the Testaments to be discussed here. Only one

or two of them can be briefly referred to, Of these the first concerns the thought of

the Messiah. Several passages are held by Charles to indicate a Messiah from the

tribe of Levi.79 Lagrange disputes this interpretation,80 but Beasley-Murray, after a

careful examination, concludes that Charles is right in two instances, but that the

others do not present this idea…

The Psalms of Solomon are to be dated in the middle of the first century B.C.109

One of these psalms is messianic in character, and the following psalm is headed

‘Again of the Anointed of the Lord’. It is the former of these, Psalm xvii, which

most concerns us here. After a historical survey it describes the coming messianic

age, and prefaces this description with the words: ‘Behold, O Lord, and raise up

unto them their king, the son of David.’110 It is therefore clear that here we have no

expectation of a Levitical Messiah, but only of a Davidic Messiah.

The terms in which his rule is described draw freely on Old Testament ideas, as is to be

expected. The Messiah will be righteous and pure and will shatter unrighteous

rulers and deliver Jerusalem from Gentile oppressors.111 He will reign over Israel,

and no alien will henceforth be admitted to the land.112 He will subject the nations

to his yoke, and his rule will be marked by righteousness and holiness, and Gentiles

will come from the ends of the earth to behold his glory, and will bring exiled Jews

to him as their gifts.113 The following psalm makes no mention of the Davidic

descent of the Messiah, but describes his rule in similar terms, though with less


The Battle Scroll describes the war whereby the nations should be successively conquered.

But it is to be noted that the Kittim are present throughout to the thought of the writer. He

says that after the Kittim are conquered the arms of the sect are to be led against nation after

nation in a specified order, and apparently the whole war is to occupy forty years.132 But

thereafter he reverts to the Kittim, and throughout the rest of the work he has nothing to say

about the other nations. This is very significant. I have already said that the Kittim of this

Scroll must be identified with the Greeks, and this view has been held by some who have

found the Kittim of the other texts to be the Romans.

We are therefore definitely in the second century B.C., when it was possible to think of the Kittim in Egypt marching against the Seleucid king of the north. It is true that in the first century B.C. Demetrius III led his army from Syria against Alexander Jannaeus, but there is no reason to think that this event would arouse the nationalist feelings of the sect, and one writer who would put the Teacher of

Righteousness in that age believed that the members of the sect were on the side of

Demetrius.133 This is on every ground improbable, and the conditions of that age would

scarcely seem to provide a suitable background for the composition of the Battle Scroll…

In one passage in the Testament of Levi137 it is said that a King should arise in Judah and

establish a new priesthood, to be called by a new name. Charles interpreted this of the

Hasmonaeans, and thought the new name was the revival of the title of Melchizedek.138 T. W.

Manson effectively answers this, and holds that the new name was ‘Sons of Zadok’, the

reference being to Solomon’s establishment of Zadok in the place of Abiathar in Jerusalem.139

He therefore disposes of this Hasmonaean hypothesis, and finds instead the conception of the

Zadokite priesthood, which was so dear to the Qumran sect…

It may be added that in the Nahum Commentary we have for the first time in the

Scrolls contemporary historical persons mentioned under their own proper names.

Antiochus is mentioned,161 and he appears to be Antiochus Epiphanes,162 though we

are here told nothing about him. There is merely a simple reference to the period

from Antiochus to the rise of the rulers of the Kittim. There is also a reference to a

king of Greece,163 who appears to be Demetrius, though the beginning of his name

is lost. This Demetrius is said to have sought to enter Jerusalem with the aid of the

seekers after smooth things. In the first century B.C. Demetrius III fought against

Alexander Jannaeus, but it is unlikely that the sect of the Scrolls was on either side

in this conflict. In the second century B.C., within a year or two of the death of

Antiochus Epiphanes, Demetrius I sent Nicanor to Jerusalem to secure control of

the whole city,164 including the Temple, and the story of his boast and subsequent

defeat by Judas Maccabaeus, and the hanging up in Jerusalem of the hand that had

been boastfully outstretched against the Temple is very familiar.165 At this time the

seekers after smooth things, who were on the side of Demetrius and Nicanor, would

certainly be the enemies of members of our sect.

It is unnecessary to say more of these converging lines of evidence. In the present

lecture it has been my purpose to add one more line of approach in the links

between the messianic and apocalyptic thought of the Scrolls with the events and

writings of the second century B.C. To have dealt exclusively with that restricted

question, without reference to the other lines of approach, would have been

unsatisfactory, since this evidence must be integrated with the other evidence at our

disposal before its full weight can be realized. It is that integration which I have

here attempted, and it seems to me to contribute materially to a case which on other

grounds I have found to be strong.

#7. The Teacher of Righteousness in the Qumran Texts By F. F. BRUCE, M. A.

Professor of Biblical History and Literature in the University of Sheffield

‘The Teacher of Righteousness’ is the name given in a number of the lately discovered

Qumran documents to a man who was held in high veneration by the religious community on

whose beliefs and practices these documents have thrown so much light. If he was not

actually the founder of the community, it was certainly he who impressed upon it those

features which distinguished it from other pious groups which flourished among the Jews

during the last two or three centuries of the Second Commonwealth. So far as we can gather

from our present sources of information, he is never referred to by his personal name in the

Qumran texts.1

The title bestowed on him by his followers, ‘The Teacher of Righteousness’

(Heb. moreh s£edeq or moreh has£s£edeq), may echo Hosea x. 12, where the prophet calls to his

people: ‘break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain

righteousness (Heb. yoreh s£edeq) upon you.’ The RV margin gives ‘teach you righteousness’

as an alternative translation to ‘rain righteousness upon you’; in any case, moreh s£edeq is the

participial form corresponding to the imperfect yoreh s£edeq which Hosea uses. Numerous

attempts have been made to identify the Teacher of Righteousness with some figure or other

mentioned elsewhere in Jewish literature;2 and as the career of the Teacher, in so far as it can

be pieced together from the Qumran texts, is linked very closely with the careers of one or two contemporaries who are mentioned in equally allusive terms, it might be more accurate to entitle the present study The Teacher of Righteousness—and others…

It is not at all certain if the Teacher of Righteousness can be identified with any historical

figure mentioned outside the Zadokite and Qumran literature. But we can put together the fragments of information about him which that literature supplies, so as to obtain as clear an impression as possible of the kind of man he was…

As we have seen, his followers believed that he had been initiated by God into the mysteries

of His purpose, so as to understand the true interpretation of the prophets of old. What he thus

learned from God he imparted to his disciples. The fragmentary pesher on Micah, found in

Cave 1, commenting on the words of Micah i. 5b (‘and what are the high places of Judah? are

they not Jerusalem?’) says:

[Their interpretation con]cerns the Teacher of Righteousness: he it is who [teaches the law to] his

[council] and to all those who offer themselves willingly to be gathered among the elect people [of

God, practising the law] in the council of the community, who will be saved from the day [of


It is equally plain that those who disregarded the words of the Teacher of Righteousness were

believed to have lost all hope of salvation. The appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness was regarded as a sign that the last days were approaching. He was not the Messiah, but his ministry signified that the messianic age would not be long delayed. Perhaps his followers believed at one time that the messianic age would be inaugurated within his lifetime; but after his death a revision of this opinion was necessary.…

The problem of identifying these ‘men of war’ may wait until something further is said about

the ‘Man of Falsehood’…

Is it possible that they expected one of these Messiahs—the Messiah of Aaron—to be the

Teacher of Righteousness himself, risen from the dead? It has been maintained that they did,3

and the possibility may be freely allowed. Mr. Allegro, for example, has pointed out4 that a

fragmentary biblical anthology found in Cave 4 looks forward to the time when the Davidic Messiah will arise ‘with the Expounder of the Law’; and it is a natural inference that the ‘Expounder of the Law’ in this instance is the Messiah of Aaron.

The same two figures are evidently associated in a comment on Nu. xxiv. 171 made in the Zadokite Admonition, where Balaam’s ‘star out of Jacob’ is ‘the Expounder of the Law who comes to Damascus’, while the ‘sceptre’ which is to ‘rise out of Israel’ is ‘the prince of all the congregation who, when he arises, will break down all the sons of Sheth.’ The ‘Expounder of the Law ‘, I suggest, was the title given to the Teacher’s successor as head of the community and was borne by several leaders one after the other.

The head of the community in office at the time of the end would sponsor and induct the Davidic

Messiah. But would that particular head of the community be the Teacher of Righteousness

himself, risen from the dead, and would he also be the Aaronic Messiah? Further information

must be awaited before a confident answer can be given.

In the present state of our knowledge, it seems more probable that the Teacher of

Righteousness in resurrection was expected to fill the rôle which in general Jewish thinking

was reserved for the prophet Elijah. For Elijah was widely expected to return to earth on the

eve of the ‘great and terrible day of the LORD’ to discharge a ministry of repentance and

restoration so that Israel might be ready for the dawn of that day.2 (It does not appear,

however, that Qumran expectation identified the Teacher redivivus with Elijah, any more than

it identified him with the other eschatological prophet, the second Moses for whom many

looked in fulfilment of Dt. xviii. 15 ff.) The Teacher, even in resurrection perhaps, as

certainly in his previous existence, would be a messianic forerunner rather than a Messiah.



The Dead Sea Scrolls


One of the most annoying things you will find about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) is that almost every author, whether in a book or magazine article or interview, will repeat the story of the discovery as if no one has ever heard it before.

There are many theories as to how the scrolls got into the caves. This website does not buy into most of them and leans towards the idea that a group of people stored them there for safe keeping before the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

This site rejects the notion that a few people smuggled them out of the city during the siege and attack as that would have been impossible. For details on that theory and others go to the following links and view the discussions there:

From Craig A. Evans, To Noel Freedman to Hershal Shanks there are a lot of good books written on the DSS. There is no shortage of information on them. What is speculated about the most is the mystery of how they came to be in the caves and who put them there.

The next most common debate is about the Essenes and who they were. Did they really copy the scrolls? Did they really live in Qumran? Are some of the main questions asked.  No one knows as there has been no manuscript discovered documenting the ownership or the details of the storage of the scrolls.

It is all a guessing game. It is also an issue filled with multiple conflicting theories as archaeologists and scholars take the side they think is the best it.  Some even go as far as saying that Qumran was only a pottery factory and could not house the Essenes but their evidence can only support part of that argument.

What follows will be similar to the other new pages: 10 blurbs on the issue of the DSS, with links to help you investigate further. Ten blurbs do not do the issue justice but for the sake of space and time it is a good number to get started.

You will discover that there is a wealth of information out there from all levels of biblical studies and scholarship. Just be careful as you read as most scholars are not Christian and do not care about the truth. They care more about discussion than finding and presenting answers.

The first blurb will be the official internet site of the DSS


The discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in a remote Judean Desert cave in 1947 is widely considered the greatest archaeological event of the twentieth century. Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists ultimately found the remains of hundreds of ancient scrolls. These fragile pieces of parchment and papyrus, including the oldest existing copies of the Hebrew Bible, were preserved for two thousand years by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves where they were placed. The scrolls provide an unprecedented picture of the diverse religious beliefs of ancient Judaism, and of daily life during the turbulent Second Temple period when Jesus lived and preached.

Fragments of every book of the Hebrew Bible (except the Book of Esther) were found in the Qumran caves, the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls sites. Remarkably, some of these ancient copies are identical to the traditional text of the Hebrew Bible that is used today. Other copies preserve differences in the text, which was in the process of standardisation.

Non-biblical texts discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls offer us a tantalizing glimpse of life during the Second Temple period and the opportunity to understand the attitudes, desires and aspirations of the people of that time. Most of the scrolls from the Qumran caves are religious writings from the Second Temple period. Some of these reflect the life and philosophy of a distinctive group that called itself the “Yahad” (“Community”). At other sites, the major finds were administrative and personal documents dating from the catastrophic Judean revolt against Rome in 132–135 ce.

As part of the conservation efforts to preserve the Scrolls for future generations, the IAA has initiated the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project. Using the most advanced and innovative imaging technology, each Scroll fragment is imaged in various wavelengths and in the highest resolution possible then uploaded to the Digital Library. For the first time ever, the Dead Sea Scrolls archive is becoming available to the public online.


What is the most important archaeological discovery to date?

“Probably the Dead Sea Scrolls have had the greatest Biblical impact. They have provided Old Testament manuscripts approximately 1,000 years older than our previous oldest manuscript. The Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated that the Old Testament was accurately transmitted during this interval. In addition, they provide a wealth of information on the times leading up to, and during, the life of Christ.” — Dr. Bryant Wood

Description of the Scrolls

As soon as the announcement of the scrolls’ discovery was made, the scholarly debates about their origin and significance began. The debates increased when the amazing contents of the scrolls were successively revealed.

The seven original scrolls, from what came to be called “Cave One,” comprised the following:

  • a well-preserved copy of the entire prophecy of Isaiah—the oldest copy of an Old Testament book ever to be discovered
  • another fragmentary scroll of Isaiah
  • a commentary on the first two chapters of Habakkuk—the commentator explained the book allegorically interms of the Qumran brotherhood
  • the “Manual of Discipline” or “Community Rule”—the most important source of information about the religious sect at Qumran—it described the requirements for those aspiring to join the brotherhood
  • the “Thanksgiving Hymns,” a collection of devotional “psalms” of thanksgiving and praise to God
  • an Aramaic paraphrase of the Book of Genesis
  • the “Rule of War” which dealt with the battle between the “Sons of Light” (the men of Qumran) and the “Sons of Darkness” (the Romans?) yet to take place in the “last days,” which days the men of Qumran believed were about to arrive.

Those seven original scrolls were just the beginning. Over six hundred scrolls and thousands of fragments have been discovered in the 11 caves of the Qumran area. Fragments of every Biblical book except Esther have been found, as well as many other non-Biblical texts.

One of the most fascinating of the finds was a copper scroll which had to becut in strips to be opened and which contained a list of 60 treasures located in various parts of Judea (none of which have been found)! Another scroll, which Israeli archaeologists recovered in 1967 underneath the floor of a Bethlehem antiquities dealer, describes in detail the community’s view of an elaborate Temple ritual. This has been appropriately called the “Temple Scroll.”

The contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that their authors were a group of priests and laymen pursuing a communal life of strict dedication to God. Their leader was called the “Righteous Teacher.” They viewed themselves as the only true elect of Israel—they alone were faithful to the Law.

They opposed the “Wicked Priest”—the Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem who represented the establishment, and who had persecuted them in some way. This wicked priest was probably one of the Maccabean rulers who had illegitimately assumed the high priesthood between 150-140 BC. Most scholars have identified the Qumran brotherhood with the Essenes, a Jewish sect of Jesus’ day described by Josephus and Philo.


In 1987, as the Dead Sea Scrolls publishing controversy captured the world’s attention, a graduate student by the name of Peter Flint moved from South Africa to the United States. He took a doctoral fellowship at the University of Notre Dame and began to study under one of the figures at the center of the controversy, Eugene Ulrich, the chief editor of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.


By 1997, Dr. Peter Flint had published the second largest portion of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls: the Psalms Scrolls. This publication was full of discoveries that soon changed Bibles, Bible study, and biblical scholarship. Today, Flint is an editor of the largest intact Dead Sea Scroll: The Great Isaiah Scroll…

Yes. I have a beautiful example from the Isaiah scrolls. Do you remember the suffering servant of the Lord, the man of sorrows? If you go to Isa 53:11, it says, in reference to the servant, “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many. For he shall bear their iniquities.” According to the KJV, which follows the traditional Hebrew text, the servant will suffer, he will die, and he will be content. It’s Good Friday, right?

Now what do we find when we turn to the scrolls? I went to the Great Isaiah Scroll in Jerusalem and I discovered there is a different reading. Not, “He shall see of the travail of his soul.” Instead, there’s a new word there, “Out of the travail of his soul he will see light.” That is explosive. In that verse we do not only have Good Friday, we have Easter Sunday. Hope, life, resurrection—there it is in the Great Isaiah Scroll. The sermons will have to be repreached, the commentaries will have to be rewritten.

Some might say, “You know what Dr. Flint, just hold on. Maybe ‘He shall see light’ is there because this community thought they were the ‘sons of light.’ Maybe they added it.” I reply to that by asking, “Is this a good and supported reading?” Well, there are two other scrolls that have this, which would seem to suggest it is.

Imagine your minister saying, “I’ve got good news for you—the scrolls tell us the suffering servant will not only find satisfaction, but ‘will see light.’ ” This reading is based on the oldest copies of the Word of God in the world…

The Scrolls demonstrate that your Bible is 99% accurate. We are confirming the Word of God and getting to that 1% of readings that are difficult. The NRSV adopts 85 readings like the “He will see light” reading. The NIV has adopted 22. At this early stage, there are about 100 better readings discovered in the Scrolls that have been proposed for English translations. Some of the bibles that adopt these readings are the RSV, RSV and NIV. However, there are some that stick to the traditional Hebrew text, like the KJV. Those translations will not adopt the 1% better reading

You can read more about Peter Flint and his work at the following website


The years between 1951 and 1956 were marked by accelerated activity in both the search for caves and the archeological excavation of sites related to tile manuscripts. An eight-kilometer-long strip of cliffs was thoroughly investigated. Of the eleven caves that yielded manuscripts, five were discovered by the Bedouins and six by archeologists. Some of the caves were particularly rich in material. Cave 3 preserved two oxidized rolls of beaten copper (the Copper Scroll), containing a lengthy roster of real or imaginary hidden treasures-a tantalizing enigma to this day. Cave 4. was particularly rich in material: 15,000 fragments from at least six hundred composite texts were found there. The last manuscript cave discovered, Cave II, was located in 1956, providing extensive documents, including the Psalms Scroll, an Aramaic targum of Job, and the Temple Scroll, the longest (about twenty-nine feet) of the Qumran manuscripts. The Temple Scroll was acquired by Yigael Yadin in 1967 and is now housed alongside the first seven scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. All the remaining manuscripts, sizable texts as well as minute fragments, are stored in the Rockefeller Museum building in Jerusalem, the premises of the Israel Antiquities Authority…

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls caused heated controversy in scholarly circles over their date and the identity of the community they represented.

Professor Sukenik, after initially defining the time span of the scrolls as the Second Temple period, recognized their special significance and advocated the now widely accepted theory that they were remnants of the library of the Essenes. At the time, however, he was vociferously opposed by a number of scholars who doubted the antiquity as well as the authenticity of the texts. Lingering in the memory of learned circles was the notorious Shapira affair of 1883. M. Shapira, a Jerusalem antiquities dealer, announced the discovery of an ancient text of Deuteronomy. His texts, allegedly inscribed on fifteen leather strips, caused a huge stir in Europe and were even exhibited at the British Museum. Shortly thereafter, the leading European scholars of the day denounced the writings as rank forgeries.

Today scholarly opinion regarding the time span and background of the Dead Sea Scrolls is anchored in historical, paleographic, and linguistic evidence, corroborated firmly by carbon 14-datings. Some manuscripts were written and copied in the third century B.C.E., but the bulk of the material, particularly the texts that reflect on a sectarian community, are originals or copies from the first century B.C.E.; a number of texts date from as late as the years preceding the destruction of the site in 68 C.E. at the hands of the Roman legions.


What is the consensus about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the people who wrote them? Charlesworth outlines several points of consensus, some of which follow. First, the scrolls were all written by Jews; none of them have been edited by later Christians, as is the case with some other Jewish literature. Second, all the scrolls (except a treasure map known as the Copper Scroll) can be dated prior to A.D. 68 or 69, when the Qumran settlement was believed to have been destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish revolt. Third, the oldest of the scrolls probably goes back to the middle of the third century B.C. – about a century before the Qumran community was established. Fourth, the Qumran community was established in the middle of the second century B.C. by a group of priests who had been expelled from the Jerusalem temple, led by the man known as The Teacher of Righteousness. Fifth, the archenemy of the Qumran community was the ruling high priest and one of the Maccabean revolutionaries of the second century, probably Jonathan or Simon. They called him the Wicked Priest and the Liar. Sixth, the people of Qumran believed that the Holy Spirit had left the Jerusalem temple and now dwelt with them. Seventh, the people of Qumran belonged to a Jewish religious group known as the Essenes.

The evidence for this last point is overwhelming. What we know about the Essenes from ancient writers like Josephus and Philo is remarkably similar to what we know about the Qumran community from their archaeological remains and their literature. Pliny the Elder, who died during the volcanic destruction of Pompeii in the year 79 A.D., described a community of Essenes living on the western shore of the Dead Sea, close to where Khirbet Qumran is situated. If the Qumran community was not made up of Essenes, then they were completely ignored by every ancient writer and historian. That seems very unlikely.

What seems even more unlikely is the theory of Robert Eisenman which is endorsed by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. According to Eisenman, the Teacher of Righteousness was James the brother of Jesus. The people of Qumran were not Essenes but Zealots, violent rebels, and James was their leader. The enemy they called the Liar was Paul the apostle, and the Wicked Priest was Ananias, the high priest of Jerusalem. After Ananias put James to death Judea revolted, the Romans responded by destroying Jerusalem, and Paul won out by inventing Christianity and turning Jesus into a God. In other far-out theories, the Teacher of Righteousness has been identified as Jesus. But the most interesting theory yet was published by an early Dead Sea scholar named John Allegro. In his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross,Allegro contended that Jesus was not a historical person but an image invoked by the use of a hallucinogenic mushroom. I did read a short story based on that theory once, but I don’t know of any scholar who has verified that thesis. The book was an embarrassment to the publisher.

Barbara Thiering has another theory. In the television program mentioned earlier, Thiering talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and a secret method of interpreting the Gospels. She believes that Jesus was born and raised, not in Bethlehem, but in Qumran. Using her secret method of digging beneath the stated meaning of the Biblical text, she argues that Jesus was not really born of a biological virgin but of a woman who could technically be referred to as a virgin because she was betrothed to an Essene. The Holy Spirit which conceived Jesus was actually a code-name for Joseph, Jesus’ father. Jesus grew up to be one of the leaders of the Qumran community, alongside John the Baptist. Together they were regarded as the two Messiahs. But in the year 29 A.D. Jesus turned against the community by rejecting baptisms, law observance, and the ascetic lifestyle, and preached the priesthood of all believers. Jesus then became known as the Wicked Priest and the Liar and John the Baptist became known as the Teacher of Righteousness.

Jesus, meanwhile, became part of a group known as the 12 Apostles. The group split into two factions: the Christians, led by Jesus, and the Zealots, led by Judas Iscariot. The temptation stories recorded in the Gospels are really secret accounts of the argument between Judas, represented by the figure of the devil, and Jesus. Judas offered to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would subordinate himself to Judas and become his second-in-command, but Jesus refused.


But hearing the dramatic recitation, Peleg, 40, rolls his eyes. “There is no connection to the Essenes at this site,” he tells me as a hawk circles above in the warming air. He says the scrolls had nothing to do with the settlement. Evidence for a religious community here, he says, is unconvincing. He believes, rather, that Jews fleeing the Roman rampage hurriedly stuffed the documents into the Qumran caves for safekeeping. After digging at the site for ten years, he also believes that Qumran was originally a fort designed to protect a growing Jewish population from threats to the east. Later, it was converted into a pottery factory to serve nearby towns like Jericho, he says.

Other scholars describe Qumran variously as a manor house, a perfume manufacturing center and even a tannery. Despite decades of excavations and careful analysis, there is no consensus about who lived there—and, consequently, no consensus about who actually wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“It’s an enigmatic and confusing site,” acknowledges Risa Levitt Kohn, who in 2007 curated an exhibit about the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego. She says the sheer breadth and age of the writings—during a period that intersects with the life of Jesus and the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem—make Qumran “a powder keg” among normally placid scholars. Qumran has prompted bitter feuds and even a recent criminal investigation.

Nobody doubts the scrolls’ authenticity, but the question of authorship has implications for understanding the history of both Judaism and Christianity. In 164 B.C., a group of Jewish dissidents, the Maccabees, overthrew the Seleucid Empire that then ruled Judea. The Maccabees established an independent kingdom and, in so doing, tossed out the priestly class that had controlled the temple in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon. The turmoil led to the emergence of several rival sects, each one vying for dominance. If the Qumran texts were written by one such sect, the scrolls “help us to understand the forces that operated after the Maccabean Revolt and how various Jewish groups reacted to those forces,” says New York University professor of Jewish and Hebraic studies Lawrence Schiffman in his book Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls. “While some sects were accommodating themselves to the new order in various ways, the Dead Sea group decided it had to leave Jerusalem altogether in order to continue its unique way of life.”

And if Qumran indeed housed religious ascetics who turned their backs on what they saw as Jerusalem’s decadence, then the Essenes may well represent a previously unknown link between Judaism and Christianity. “John the Baptizer, Jesus’ teacher, probably learned from the Qumran Essenes—though he was no Essene,” says James Charlesworth, a scrolls scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary. Charlesworth adds that the scrolls “disclose the context of Jesus’ life and message.” Moreover, the beliefs and practices of the Qumran Essenes as described in the scrolls—vows of poverty, baptismal rituals and communal meals—mirror those of early Christians. As such, some see Qumran as the first Christian monastery, the cradle of an emerging faith.

But Peleg and others discount Qumran’s role in the history of the two religions. Norman Golb, a University of Chicago professor of Jewish history (and an academic rival of Schiffman), believes that once Galilee fell during the Jewish revolt, Jerusalem’s citizens knew that the conquest of their city was inevitable; they thus gathered up texts from libraries and personal collections and hid them throughout the Judean wilderness, including in the caves near the Dead Sea. If that’s the case, then Qumran was likely a secular—not a spiritual—site, and the scrolls reflect not just the views of a single dissident group of proto-Christians, but a wider tapestry of Jewish thought. “Further determination of the individual concepts and practices described in the scrolls can be best achieved not by forcing them to fit into the single sectarian bed of Essenism,” Golb argued in the journal Biblical Archaeologist.


There are two competing theories about the scrolls. The first is that they belonged to a single religious sect living nearby the caves, most likely the Essenes. The second theory is that the scrolls are a random collection of texts reflecting the beliefs of many Jewish groups of the period; the caves, under this theory, are a repository for sacred texts from various Jewish communities fleeing the Romans during the Jewish revolt of A.D. 68.

The issue is whether these fragments of parchment tell the story of the religious activity of a particular, arguably proto-Christian, denomination or, alternatively, the story of a wider swath of the Jewish people. In other words, are the scrolls a lens affording an unparalleled view of Jews at a crucial, pre-Diasporan moment or, rather, an in-depth account of a single sect’s intellectual development?

This theory — that the scrolls represented an intellectual precursor to Christianity — actually came first and was even propounded by the man who discovered the caves and their scrolls, the Rev. Roland de Vaux, a French biblical scholar, archaeologist and monk. After reading the scrolls, he announced with pride that they had been authored by an Essene sect and asserted that the sect was the forebear of his own Dominican movement.

The early scholars, many of them Christian, “wanted the scrolls to be sectarian,” according to Philip Davies, a British professor of biblical studies. “Christians saw in them the forerunner of Christianity.” He explains that “now that the scrolls are in Israeli hands, they are being interpreted as more mainstream, even proto-rabbinic,” meaning that they could be read as precursors to the time when the Jewish oral tradition was transformed into an edited, written text.


By September 1952 the PAM/Department of Antiquities had exhausted its resources, and the Cave 4 fragments were just beginning to pour onto the market. In a letter dated 29 September 1952 (the day the excavation of Cave 4 ended) to Carl Kraeling of the Oriental Institute, Chicago, Harding estimated that £15,000.00 = $42,300.00 was necessary to cover the acquisition, conservation and publication of these fragments. Where was the money to come from? Not only had sellers to be paid, but scholars had to eat and support families.

There was no alternative but to beg. One might have thought that it would be easy to raise funds for documents important to so many people throughout the world. Over many years the opposite has proved to be true. It is one of the leitmotifs of Fields’ book that the lack of funds caused Harding and de Vaux consistent anxiety and crippled the speed of publication. It is noteworthy that none of those who cried most loudly for access to the scrolls ever offered to put their hands in their pockets. In this connection Fields makes a startling revelation. “As I write this there are as many as 16 Hebrew biblical fragments and one fragment of Enoch languishing in a vault in Switzerland, 140 Greek fragments in Jerusalem, and a large fragment of Genesis elsewhere, for whose purchase I have not been able to get one penny despite four years of work, scores of letters and meetings, and hundreds of dollars’ worth of phone calls” (157). Fields estimates that between 1988 and 2005 alone at least $4 million was spent on publishing the scrolls…

The team turned out to be international and interconfessional but these were not the criteria for selection. Fields’ precision with respect to each member is admirably illustrated by his summary of how Cross was recruited, “From the documentation that survived it is obvious that the invitation [to Cross] came from Kraeling to Harding to de Vaux to Cross” (543 n. 22). On rather slender evidence Fields concludes that “it is virtually certain that Jewish scholars would have been invited to join the Cave 4 team had Jerusalem not been divided in 1953 (sic!)” (541 n. 4). The complex way in which the team was funded over time is laid out in great detail in a report of de Vaux to the Director of Antiquities of Jordan dated 12 June 1960.

The way the Cave 4 team worked is described by Cross, “Initially we all worked on all materials, only specializing when the team had to split up. We searched out and identified particularly the manuscripts which interested us, but also we all contributed to the plates of manuscripts belonging to others. Often we passed over whole manuscripts to others. I got rid of the so-called Pentateuchal paraphrases as soon as Strugnell agreed to take them. The lots remained somewhat fluid until 1956” (232). In a long interview Strugnell describes how fragments were assembled into a document by first identifying the scribal ‘hand’. Thus everyone looked at everything in a quest for the ‘hand’ on which he was currently working.

In this atmosphere there could be no secrets. It would have been impossible to hide fragments considered damaging to Christianity or to the Vatican. Not surprisingly those who cried conspiracy never even quoted anything from memory. In an unguarded moment Allegro wrote, “I am convinced that if something turns up which affects the Roman Catholic dogma, the world will never see it. De Vaux will scrape the money out of some other barrel, and send the lot to the Vatican to be hidden or destroyed” (432 my emphasis). In other words, Allegro was keeping his fingers crossed that such a document would emerge from a still undiscovered cave! It never did…

1956 was a bad year for the Scrollery. Harding was forced out of office on the basis of a farrago of absurd charges regarding improprieties with the scrolls. In contrast to his usual approach Fields here leaves us to deduce the accusations from Harding’s response. The Suez crisis led to the departure of the Cave 4 team from Jerusalem, and the scrolls were packed and stored for security in Amman. They were eventually returned, but the complete team never worked together in the Scrollery again. Worse was to follow. On 6 January 1957 the Minister of Education of Jordan formally claimed full rights with respect to “all ancient manuscripts which were discovered in the area of the Dead Sea” (363). The following month the same minister established a board to oversee the scrolls at the PAM. The members were to be the Director and Assistant director of Antiquities and the Directors of the École Biblique and ASOR, presided over by the mayor of Jerusalem. This almost amounted to nationalization of the PAM, which turned out to be rather less of a success when the authorities discovered the extent of its borrowings to acquire fragments. Not surprisingly, therefore, on 28 December 1957 the Jordanian Council of Ministers declared the actions of the Minister of Education to have been illegal and thus null and void. These momentous events had the potential for great disruption but seem to have had little impact on those free to work on the scrolls. The amount of material led to a proposal to enlarge the Cave 4 team by two, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and a German, but nothing came of it.


The Works of Flavius Josephus

Translated by William Whiston

Book II. Chapter 8.

2. For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, – insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one’s possessions are intermingled with every other’s possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please. 5. And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary; for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this every one of them are sent away by their curators, to exercise some of those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before meat; and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he hath dined, says grace again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them; after which they lay aside their [white] garments, and betake themselves to their labors again till the evening; then they return home to supper, after the same manner; and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn; which silence thus kept in their house appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery; the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of meat and drink that is allotted them, and that such as is abundantly sufficient for them.


Since the archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, the word “Essene” has made its way around the world–often raising a lot of questions. Many people were astonished to discover that, two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization. This brotherhood–more or less persecuted and ostracized–would bring forth people who would change the face of the world and the course of history. Indeed, almost all of the principal founders of what would later be called Christianity were Essenes–St. Ann, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Evangelist, etc.

The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people–not because of external signs like skin color, hair color, etc., but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. They considered themselves to be also a group of people at the center of all peoples–because everyone could become part of it, as soon as they had successfully passed the selective tests.
They thought, and rightly so, that they were the heirs of God’s sons and daughters of old, the heirs to their great ancient civilization. They possessed their advanced knowledge and worked assiduously in secret for the triumph of the light over the darkness of the human mind.

They felt that they had been entrusted with a mission, which would turn out to be the founding of Christianity and of western civilization. They were supported in this effort by highly evolved beings who directed the brotherhood. They were true saints, Masters of wisdom, hierophants of the ancient arts of mastery.

They were not limited to a single religion, but studied all of them in order to extract the great scientific principles. They considered each religion to be a different stage of a single revelation. They accorded great importance to the teachings of the ancient Chaldeans, of Zoroaster, of Hermes Trismegiste, to the secret instructions of Moses and of one of the founding Masters of their order who had transmitted techniques similar to those of Buddhism, as well as to the revelation of Enoch.
They possessed a living science of all of these revelations.
Thus, they knew how to communicate with angelic beings and had solved the question of the origin of evil on the earth.

One of their major preoccupations was to protect themselves from any contact with evil spirits, in order to preserve the purity of their souls. They knew that they would only be on earth for a short time, and they did not want to prostitute their eternal souls. It was this attitude, this strict discipline, this absolute refusal to lie or compromise, that made them the object of so much persecution through the ages.

The Essenes considered themselves the guardians of the Divine Teaching. They had in their possession a great number of very ancient manuscripts, some of them going back to the dawn of time. A large portion of the School members spent their time decoding them, translating them into several languages, and reproducing them, in order to perpetuate and preserve this advanced knowledge. They considered this work to be a sacred task.


Exactly What Is Accreditation and How is it Different from Certification? by Dr. Dennis Frey

Accreditation is essentially a statement of approval.  In the United States, if it is to be meaningful, it must come from an independent association having attained its own approval from the United States Department of Education (USDE).  In the U.S., the government (USDE) does not accredit schools.  However, the USDE is in the business of approving the associations which do accredit schools (for the purpose of serving as gate keepers for Title IV Funding).  You must understand this if you are to properly understand accreditation. Title IV Funding is the nearly 60 billion dollar congressionally approved annual money stream that flows from taxpayers to educational institutions that are accredited by an agency approved by USDE.  The reason that USDE approves accrediting agencies is to assure quality control over the flow of Title IV Funds.  The greater part of accreditation requirements is geared toward satisfying the USDE mandated standards that are specifically designed to safeguard the huge taxpayer investment in higher education.

Accrediting associations in the U.S. are not required to seek USDE recognition, but without it, the value of such accreditation may be questionable, and schools they accredit are not eligible to receive Title IV Funds.  That is why schools promoting accreditation from sources not approved by the USDE are considered “unaccredited.”  BEWARE: There are dozens of so-called accrediting agencies (some with very official sounding names), that are nothing more than a fraud designed to deceive.

EXCEPTION: Accrediting agencies (just like schools), must first operate according to accepted practices and attract a sufficient number of clients before they can petition the USDE for possible acceptance.  Unrecognized agencies that are in a petitioning status with USDE, and are operating openly within the general parameters set forth by USDE (though still not considered recognized), ought to be considered valid, but their members’ schools are still not qualified for Title IV Funds.

The following quote is taken from the web site of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  “There are accrediting organizations that may not be recognized but are not accreditation mills. For example, the accreditor may be seeking recognition, but the process is not complete. Or the accreditor does not meet the requirements of CHEA or USDE for reasons that do not relate to quality.”

Certification is also essentially a statement of approval, but significantly different from accreditation in several important ways.  Most importantly, certification is not tied to Title IV Funding.  Only USDE recognized accreditation qualifies institutions to receive such funding.  Certification is not generally recognized as being equivalent to accreditation since certification criteria is not geared toward satisfying the requirements for Title IV Funding.  Therefore, certifying agencies are not as well known, and their value not as readily appreciated.

Legitimate certification is similar to legitimate accreditation in that it also involves voluntary peer review through private agencies accountable to their constituents and the public at large, but not to the federal government since Title IV Funding is not involved.  Much of the misunderstanding that arises between the two is due to the lack of consumer awareness, and the generally held belief that accreditation is the only standard for academic legitimacy.  This is one reason why accreditation mills thrive while certification mills generally are not popular targets for scam artists.

Furthermore, certification is a term more often associated with professions, products, and processes.  For example, there are “Certified Financial Planners”, “USDA Certified Agricultural Products”, and “Procedures Certified” by certain medical associations.  Of course, the term “accredited” is also used in many of these situations.  This is because the two terms often serve as synonyms.  However, when it comes to higher education, accreditation is tied to Title IV Funding and certification is not.  Schools may be accredited but not certified, certified and not accredited or both or neither.  The important thing is that the school not misrepresent itself.

Exactly What is an Accredited Degree?

This may come as a shock, but in point-of-fact, there is no such thing as an accredited degree.  Only schools or programs within schools are accredited.  Period!  Look carefully at any degree earned from an accredited school, and you will not find one word that even suggests that it is an “accredited” degree.

If it does, you may be certain that the degree is bogus.  That’s because degrees are not accredited.  You can earn a degree from an accredited school or program within a school, but you cannot earn an accredited degree from that same school.  It may seem like only a matter of semantics, but it much more.  You can earn a degree from either an accredited or unaccredited school, but the degree you earn is neither accredited nor unaccredited.

Here is an example (admittedly extreme, but it makes the point):  Sam Smith graduated from MYU before it was accredited.  His degree is from an unaccredited school.  Sam’s son (Sam Jr.) graduated from MYU after it received accreditation.  Sam Jr. earned a degree from an accredited school.  Sam’s grandson graduated from MYU during the time that it lost its accreditation.  Sam III earned a degree from an unaccredited school.

Sam’s great grandson earned his degree from MYU after it regained its accreditation.  Sam IV earned a degree from an accredited school.  Now let’s look back, the fact that MYU was accredited when Sam Jr. attended, was of no consequence to Sam.  His degree was still earned at an unaccredited school.

Why?  Because there is no such thing as “grandfathering” when it comes to accreditation.  The same is true for Sam Jr. at the time MYU lost its accreditation.  Sam Jr. still earned a degree from an accredited school.  Why?  Because even though a school may lose its accreditation (it happens), there is no reverse of grandfathering.  The school will always be considered accredited at the time that it held accreditation, and unaccredited at the time it did not hold accreditation.  The bottom line, there is no such thing as an accredited degree.  One either earns a degree from an accredited or unaccredited school.  All accredited schools in the U.S. were at one time, unaccredited, and all accredited schools are subject to the loss of accreditation (it does happen).

Are Schools Required to Obtain Recognized Accreditation?

No.  For the most part, accreditation in the U.S. is strictly voluntary.  Many states require, or provide for, a kind of “state approval.”  However, this is not the same as accreditation.  There are many schools in the U.S. that operate as top-quality institutions with high academic standards and yet have elected to not seek accreditation.

The following quote is taken from the web site of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  There are institutions that may not be accredited but are not degree mills. For example, the institution may be seeking accreditation, but the process is not complete. Or a legitimate institution may choose not to be accredited for reasons that do not relate to quality.

The following quote from the United States Department of Education makes the point. “It should be noted that some institutions have chosen not to participate in the federal student aid program and therefore do not have to be approved by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department. While these institutions do not appear on the Department’s list, they may be legitimate schools. Stroup encouraged consumers and employers to use the list as an initial source of information and to investigate further whenever an institution does not appear on the list.”  (February 1, 2005)

The former executive director of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education), as quoted in that agency’s September 2005 quarterly publication stated that “There are hundreds of Bible Colleges and Seminaries in the United States and Canada that are offering good solid theological training, yet they are not accredited.  This would be the case with our Affiliate institutions that take advantage of the programs and services that we offer.”

Of course, all schools in the U.S. attempting to seek recognized accreditation must first operate as an unaccredited school and provide sufficient proof of institutional credibility prior to applying.  All accredited schools in the U.S. were, at one time, unaccredited.  In fact, the common qualifying procedure for schools seeking recognized accreditation is the development of a “Self Study” through which the institution demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the accrediting agency, that it is operating in a manner sufficiently consistent with the criteria required for accreditation. On a practical level, this demonstrates that it is possible for an unaccredited school to operate at a level generally equivalent to that of an accredited school.  The very same logic can be applied to certification as well.

What Are Some Advantages of Recognized Accreditation?

Access to government sponsored or approved student loans and grants (Title IV Funds).

Easier recognition for transfer of its credits to other accredited schools.

Easier recognition of its degrees by other schools and organizations.

Greater likelihood of acceptance of its students by other schools for further study.

Greater probability of the recognition of its educational programs meeting the qualifications for some goals, requirements, and licenses.

What Are Some Disadvantages of Recognized Accreditation?

More difficult entrance requirements into its programs of study.

Program requirements which may limit certain individuals or prevent them from being accepted into its programs.

Significantly higher tuition and related costs for all programs of study.

Less accommodating schedules and course offerings.

Fewer options for the older or nontraditional student.

What Are Some Advantages of Not Having Recognized Accreditation?

Less difficult entrance requirements for desirable programs of study.

Lower tuition and related costs making it possible to graduate without debt.

More accommodating program schedules and course offerings making it possible for busy adults to study anywhere anytime.

Unaccredited schools are likely to be more innovative and liberal in the development of specialized courses, unique study concepts, the use of emerging technology, and the design of nontraditional certificate and degree programs.  In this regard they are often pioneers and early adopters.

Providing the school is properly dedicated to its mission, the student will have an opportunity to gain an education comparable to that offered at accredited schools for similar courses and programs, but at a fraction of the total cost.

What Are Some Disadvantages of Not Having Recognized Accreditation?

No access to government sponsored or approved student loans and grants (Title IV Funds).

Transfer of credits earned may be more difficult.

Acceptance of graduates by accredited schools for further study more difficult.

The recognition of educational qualifications earned for meeting some goals may be problematic.

Certain licenses and professional requirements may not permit the acceptance of degrees earned from unaccredited schools.

Does Recognized Accreditation Assure A Quality Education?

No.  Even though recognized accreditation is a very good indicator that a program meets acceptable standards, the quality of an education is still largely dependent upon the value of the course content, the background and competency of the instructor, and the willingness of the student to get the most out of the course.  It is quite possible to attend even a top-rated accredited school and obtain an inferior education.  No level of accreditation can force a professor to do her or his best, and no professor, however gifted and dedicated, can force a student to learn.  It’s always possible for a less than sincere person to beat the system.

Can A Program Without Recognized Accreditation Provide A Quality Education?

Yes!  Again, since the quality of an education is largely dependent upon the value of the course content, the background and competency of the instructor, and the willingness of the student to get the most out of the course, it is quite possible to attend a well organized unaccredited school and receive a first-class education.  In fact, there is no reason why the level of learning between an accredited and unaccredited program offering similar courses and programs should not be comparable.  The honest student truly seeking to learn, will quickly discover whether the program is meeting the need.  If the course of study is meeting the need, and the student is doing her or his best, whether the school is accredited or not may be immaterial.
Beware of those who suggest that there is “no reason to attend an unaccredited school.”  Such logic suggests that there is no need for new schools, or for the older and established schools to become accredited.  How so?  In order to become an accredited school, an unaccredited school must first demonstrate through a pattern of evidence [to the satisfaction of the accrediting agency], that it is operating in a manner sufficiently consistent with the criteria required for accreditation.  In other words, in order for any school to become accredited, there must be a sufficient period of time during which the school is unaccredited but operating as if it were accredited, before it can be accredited.  This cannot be done unless the school is enrolling and graduating students!  Furthermore, without the pressure from innovative and immerging institutions, competition would be stifled, resulting in fewer choices and even higher tuition.

Will a Degree Earned Through an Unaccredited School be Accepted and Considered Legitimate?

This depends upon what is meant by accepted and legitimate.  Here is the blunt truth.  There is a difference between a legitimate degree and a degree earned legitimately!  Depending on the law of any given state or country, even a cheap degree may be legally legitimate.  But was it legitimately earned?  A degree is legitimately earned providing the entrance requirements, course work, and completion requirements are appropriate for the degree awarded (whether it is earned through an accredited or unaccredited institution).

Will a Degree from an Unaccredited School be Accepted by My Church or Place of Employment?

While there certainly are some situations when only a degree from an accredited school can qualify one for certain positions and privileges, for the most part, you are judged and accepted on you, not the school from which you graduated.  Example: Are you already in ministry?  If so, when was the last time a member of your church asked you if you had a degree at all, much less if it was earned at an accredited college or seminary?

CAUTION!  Do not fall victim to the myth that earning a degree from an accredited school is a ticket to ministry success.  It is not.  Ministry is one of those places where what you do with what you know trumps everything else.  In fact, for those already serving in ministry, a degree from a highly credible though unaccredited school may be the most logical choice.  We ought never to forget that especially in the Christian tradition, academic freedom is considered a cornerstone of religious liberty.  Of course, so is academic responsibility!  Therefore, any program of study leading to a theological degree ought to be both Biblically sound, and academically honest.

However, if you are concerned whether your church or place of employment will accept you with a degree earned through a credible though unaccredited school, you are strongly urged to ask!  Even in the case of degrees earned from accredited schools, there may be restrictions on what kind of degree is recognized, and what kinds of schools are considered acceptable.  For example, in some cases, denominations and ministries may not accept degrees from secular schools, or schools not affiliated with the group.

Will a Degree or Credits Earned Through an Unaccredited School be Accepted  by Other Schools?

First of all, it should be understood that no school is required to accept credits ore degrees from another school (accredited or unaccredited).  However, generally speaking, degrees earned through unaccredited schools will often be recognized by other unaccredited schools providing the school meets the standards of the receiving school, and the learning discipline is relevant.  On the other hand, most accredited schools will accept only a very limited number of students from unaccredited schools.  Such acceptance, when granted, is usually based on degree or credit relevancy, the coursework and degree requirements, and the background and ability of the person applying.  The bottom line…an accredited school may accept credits and degrees from an unaccredited school, but don’t count on it!  If this is a real issue for you, ask first!

However, in the case of Master’s, because of our commitment to educational excellence, credits and degrees earned a MISD have been accepted at many regularly accredited institutions.  In addition, MISD has formal agreements with several faith-based institutions of higher learning regarding the acceptance of credits and degrees, and friendly relations with more than ninety others.  Names of these institutions are available upon request.

Why is Master’s Certified, but not Accredited?

Master’s is a relatively young institution (founded March 30, 1999), and is not financially endowed as in the case of institutions associated with denominations .  The process of seeking and obtaining legitimate accreditation is one that requires considerable institutional resources, and a sufficient number of years of successful operation in order to be adequately prepared.

Since our founding in 1999, we have pursued a policy of developing a Divinity School that operates in a manner consistent with Biblical guidelines, and have promoted and maintained appropriate academic and business standards.  Consequently, we have received a remarkable level of credibility among our ministry peers.

This affirmation of institutional integrity has attracted thousands of students from around the world.  Our alumni serve in practically every ministry calling within the denominational and independent structures of the church-at-large.  A careful examination of our Endorsements and Cooperatives bears witness to this fact.  Our goal is to remain faithful to our mission and purpose, to continue to promote appropriate academic standards, and to be vigilant in our pursuit of institutional development.

Nevertheless, we do recognize and honor the value of legitimate academic and institutional peer review.  For this reason, Master’s has achieved certification with the Council of Private Colleges of America. The mission of the CPCA is to serve private faith based educational institutions through quality standards and practices.  The purpose of the CPCA is to promote quality faith based education, and provide support services for faith based educational institutions to accomplish their individual purpose and mission.  The CPCA represents member faith based educational institutions before government or other educational agencies, and provides certification to member faith based educational institutions through quality peer review and onsite certification visits verifying CPCA standards.

In addition, understanding the value of USDE recognized accrediting agencies, Master’s has achieved affiliated status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (a USDE recognized agency).   As such, we participates in and contribute to collegial and professional development activities of the Association.  Our affiliate status does not, however, constitute, imply or presume ABHE accredited status at present or in the future.

Does Master’s Have A Plan to Seek Recognized Accreditation?

First, let’s make something quite clear…one of the “tricks” of unscrupulous schools is to falsely hold out the promise of accreditation sometime in the near future.  No unaccredited school can promise students that it is going to be accredited (and no accredited school can promise that it will always remain accredited).  Even though Master’s is currently engaged in the process of  preparing for recognized accreditation, if we are successful, that will have no bearing on degrees earned prior to accreditation (see above).  Furthermore, the process by which recognized accreditation is achieved can take years.  If you are seriously considering Master’s, and do not need to earn a degree from an already accredited institution, then your decision should be based upon our currently achieved level of credibility.

OK, but How Can I be Sure That Master’s International School of Divinity is Really Valid and of High Quality?

Check us out for yourself. DO NOT rely on published guide books, Internet message boards, blogs or chat rooms for accurate information (this holds true for any other school you may be considering). Such places as message boards and blogs are often populated by one or more “self-proclaimed experts” whom only rarely possess any actual first-hand knowledge about the schools they suppose themselves to be competent to rate (or rant against).  These individuals seem to crave whatever attention they may get from their pontifications.

In addition, the few books and online guides that profess to give “expert” guidance, are too often out-of-date or just plain wrong, simply because it is physically impossible for these individuals to actually visit the schools they profess to know about.  Consequently, information is notoriously inaccurate, out-of-date and suffers from the fact the few if any of the schools rated have received an actual on-site visit or even been afforded the benefit of submitting a formal validation document.  Information is usually gleaned from the internet, school catalogs as well as second and third-hand sources.  One serious indication of poor research is the use of unprofessional language and the strongly worded personal opinions of the author or compiler.  While such sources may provide some useful information, caution should be exercised when accepting information as accurate.

Furthermore, be aware that some unscrupulous admissions recruiters often profess to have “inside knowledge” in order to berate competing schools as a way of convincing you to enroll at the school they represent.  The only sure way is to check it out for yourself.  In the case of Master’s, read everything on our web site, call and speak with anyone or any organization named on the web site that is of interest to you. Request an academic evaluation for yourself, and ask every question that you think is important.  Don’t settle for anything less than a satisfactory answer. After that, you will be able to make an informed decision.

IMPORTANT:  Please visit us in person if that is possible.  These days, legitimate schools are trying very hard to present themselves as best they can by having a first-rate web site (such as Master’s is trying to do).  However, easy degree mills and outright degree mills are also doing so.  That’s why a visit can be worth a thousand pictures!  Of course, you may not be able to visit, but perhaps you have a friend or a colleague from your church or business contacts who may be able to come on your behalf, if so, we would be pleased to meet with them in your place.  If none of these options are practical, you may wish to contact the Council of Private Colleges of America.  The on-site team that recommended our five-year certification will be able to answer any questions concerning the quality of Master’s.

Ten Commandments for  Degree Mills

1.  Thou shalt seduce them with ridiculously low tuition.

2.  Thou shalt boast of being accredited by a worthless agency.

3.  Thou shalt offer as many different degree titles as possible.

4.  Thou shalt give life-experience credit for everything.

5.  Thou shalt not require too much work for anything.

6.  Thou shalt not refuse anyone entrance into any program.

7.  Impress them with your “accredited” faculty, they won’t know that there is no such thing.

8.  Always appeal to their vanity by offering them what they “deserve.”

9.  Provide high quality printed degrees and transcripts to deflect questions about the  low quality of the program.

10. Encourage skeptics to visit your web site, discourage them from visiting your office.


Maybe They Weren’t Slaves

We got the following in a newsletter we subscribe to:


Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a largely juvenile slave force, numbering in the thousands, buried in Egypt. These slaves had worked to build the city of Amarna, Egypt’s new capital city under Akhenaten, the eccentric pharaoh of the New Kingdom’s 18th Dynasty who is thought to have adopted a form of monotheism. Evidence from the graves indicates there was oppressive treatment of this disposable and possibly foreign workforce. Naturally, some have latched onto this find (and its similarities to the Exodus account) to propose that this might be evidence of Israelite slaves. Assessing that idea by examining the finds and then applying a patterns approach will be the subject of this two-part Thinker post.

The city of Amarna (located about 200 miles south of Cairo) had a very brief history. Pharaoh Akhenaten’s religious revolution exchanged the traditional pantheon of Egyptian gods for worship centered on the single deity Aten (depicted as the rays of light extending from the sun’s disk). After this shift, Akhenaten had the entirely new city of Amarna constructed for his grand capital in a matter of five brief years. Once completed, it would only serve as a thriving city for about a decade, as it was quickly abandoned and demolished after the death of the heretic king. Most of its stones were scavenged for building projects at other locations. Conventional dates for the city are from 1346 BC to shortly after 1332 BC, which marked the death of Akhenaten. His successor Tutankhamun (King Tut) moved the capital to Memphis, and Amarna was never rebuilt.

That is just the beginning of a long address on the title discovery. As we read through this information the thought struck us that there is actually nothing that ties those skeletons to slavery. Being badly buried, badly injured and so on does not indicate the skeletons belonged to slaves. These bones could have been the remains of prisoners, forced child labor policies, they could have been runaways and so on. Tying them to slavery may be difficult, even if some DNA samples proved that some of the remains originated somewhere else.

The archaeologists would have to prove that the Egyptians had slaves at that time to make this theory credible. The only reason the Egyptians had Hebrew slaves was because they Egyptians were afraid that the Hebrews would ally themselves with the Egyptian enemies and overthrow the current government. There is nothing tying these young people to the Hebrews. So why mention it? Because mentioning the Hebrews means more clicks and readers that is why.

Shepperson proposes that at this early stage of the investigation there are three main options for considering who these people were. Because of the likely separation from families (who would normally have provided the proper burials that were so important to ancient Egyptians)

Or the families were to poor to properly bury their young dead. Without documentation explaining the who’s and why’s it is all pure reading into the discovery on the part of the archaeologist. Archaeologists prefer good bedtime stories and not the truth. We will withhold judgment on this discovery until there is something more than ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’, ‘could be’ and so on. There is nothing in these graves that we have read so far that even dates these graves to Akhenaten.

Then Akhenaten could not be the Pharaoh linked to the Exodus. That Pharaoh believed in many gods not one, he was killed and his eldest son/daughter was killed in the plaque. Look for someone else to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.


Israel 4

More on the Exodus

I am going to take the opportunity to recap the main points as to why there is no evidence for the sojourn in and exodus from Egypt by the Hebrew people:

1. Joseph sold into slavery- Gen. 37:28, 36.  This was done by his brothers to a middle man who eventually sold Joseph to the Egyptians.  No records or steles, or monuments would be erected to preserve this transaction.

2. Joseph’s promotion–Gen. 41:39-40. Done as a reward and given an Egyptian name which removes the idea of a foreigner being in charge of the country. If records were kept, this would only deserve papyrus NOT a stone monument or stele as no great deed was done to achieve this award.

3. Joseph’s family invited to move to Egypt–Gen. 45: 16-18. An invitation does not warrant permanent preservation for the move was done by invite not conquest. Joseph’s family came voluntarily not by force thus no record would be made or if there was, it would not be done in stone.

4. Jacob’s death– Gen. 50: 2-3.  Jacob’s body was prepared for burial the Egyptian way and accompanied back to Canaan by a host of Egyptians. Any remains would look Egyptian not Hebrew.

5. Joseph’s death-Gen. 50:26- His body was prepared for death the Egyptian way and buried n the country.  It was moved in the Exodus and we have an idea were it is today {}

6. Slavery–Ex. 1:811.  The Hebrew people were already living in Egypt when they were made slaves, they were not captured in some great battle that would be carved into a stele or made into a monument. It was an oppression of existing inhabitants of Egypt.  No fanfare or glorifying of the pharaoh for his accomplishments would be needed.

7. The Plagues– Ex. 7:1 to 12:1.  There is an ancient record of these events but it is either dismissed or re-dated to another era. {}

8. Hebrew property- Though there is no specific scripture reference, just reading Exodus 1 to 6 one sees that the Hebrew people did not have their own manufacturing plants, their own wares or their own cultural artifacts or property.  They could not leave anything distinctly Hebrew behind in Egypt for all they owned was basically Egyptian.

9. The Start of the Exodus– Ex. 12:33-36.  God had the Egyptian people give the Israelites gold, silver, clothing, so they did NOT take anything that was basically Hebrew with them. They carried Egyptian articles thus if anything was discarded, it would be Egyptian not Hebrew.

10. 40 yrs. of wandering– Nbrs. 14: 32-35.  The Hebrew adults would die in the desert for their unbelief and rejection of the Promised Land.  If their skeletons could be found, we would find only Egyptian clothing and artifacts buried with them.  There would be no opportunity for the Hebrews to make their own cultural items and even if they did create their own cultural identity, how would we know? There would be nothing from pre-sojourn to compare the items with, thus all such discoveries of artifacts would be considered Egyptian or some other nation’s remains.

These are some of the reasons why we do not find any evidence for the Hebrews living in, being enslaved by and exiting the country of Egypt.  There just isn’t any but this is not abnormal as there is scant evidence for the existence of many countries’ peoples.  The Hittites were ‘lost’ for over 1800 years and thought to be an invention by the Biblical authors; thus to make an argument out of absence of evidence is just ludicrous in this case for there is 1 ancient record which provides the evidence needed– The Bible.

So in reality there is evidence, there is a record and there is a history of the Hebrew people which we can turn to find the truth of the past.

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