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BIBL 7553 The Dead Sea
Scrolls and the New Testament
The Scrolls and John
The Scrolls and Paul
The Scrolls and James
The Scrolls and Hebrews
Dualism in John and in 1QS
There are several significant parallels between the Fourth
Gospel and the writings discovered near Qumran. Probably
the most important parallels are those that express or
presuppose dualism. The dualism found in the Manual of
Discipline has especially drawn scholarly attention.
Contrasts between light/darkness, good deeds/evil deeds,
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).
Examples of Dualism
Although Johannine and Qumranian dualism is not identical, there is significant
similarity. Some of the most important parallels have been presented by James
Charlesworth: “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 4:6; cf. 1QS 3:18–
19; 4:21, 23); “Holy Spirit” (John 14:26; 20:22; cf. 1QS 4:21); “sons of light” (John
12:36; cf. 1QS 3:13, 24, 25); “eternal life” (John 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14, 36; 5:24, etc.; cf.
1QS 4:7); “the light of life” (John 8:12; cf. 1QS 3:7); “walk in darkness” (John 8:12;
12:35; cf. 1QS 3:21; 4:11); “wrath of God” (John 3:36; cf. 1QS 4:12); “eyes of the
blind” (John 9:39–41; 10:21; cf. 1QS 4:11); “full of grace” (John 1:14; cf. 1QS 4:4,
5); “the works of God” (John 6:28; 9:3; cf. 1QS 4:4); “men . . . for their works were
evil” (John 3:19; cf. 1QS 4:10, 20). To these a few others might be added: “witness of
the truth” (John 5:33; 18:37; cf. 1QS 8:6); “do [or practice] the truth” (John 3:21; 1
John 1:6; cf. 1QS 1:5; 5:3; 8:2); “walking in truth” (2 John 4; 3 John 3; cf. 1QS 4:6,
15); “living water” (John 4:14; cf. CD 19:33–34); darkness overcome by light (John
1:5; 1 John 2:8; cf. 1QMyst [1Q27] 1:5–6). Parallels such as these have led Herbert
Braun to conclude that Johannine dualism can be understood as having derived from
Palestine (as opposed to Syria or some other place where Gnostic dualism might
have existed).
Dictional and Conceptual Parallels
Several other parallels between Johannine and Qumranian diction
and conceptuality have been observed: (1) The relationship
between water and spirit (3:5; 7:37–38) may reflect Qumran’s
great interest in baptism and the Spirit: “He will cleanse him of all
wicked deeds by means of a Holy Spirit; like purifying waters He
will sprinkle upon the Spirit of truth” (1QS 4:19–21; cf. Isa 44:4).
(2) The respective manners in which Jesus and the Teacher of
Righteousness (esp. in 1QH) refer to themselves and to their
distinctive missions have have certain features in common. (3)
Otto Betz and others have pointed out the similarities between the
Johannine Paraclete and Qumran’s “Holy Spirit” (1QS 4:21), which
is also called the “Spirit of truth” (1QS 3:18; 4:21, 23). (4)
Johnannine interpretation of Jesus’ body as the Temple (John
2:19–21) resembles Qumran’s concept of a spiritual temple: “He
has commanded a sanctuary of men to be built for Himself”
(4QFlorilegium [4Q174] 3:6).
Qumran Dualism and Bultmann
• The Dualism of the Dead Sea Scrolls
seriously undermined Rudolf Bultmann’s
thesis that the Gospel of John was a product
of Gnosticism.
Ecclesiastical Terminology in
Paul and in Qumran
(a) 2 Cor 2:5–6 “. . . punishment by the many
[uJpo; tw'n pleiovnwn] is sufficient”; cp. 1QS
6:11b–12 “During the session of the general
membership [Mybrh] no man should say anything
except by the permission of the general membership
[Mybrh] . . .” This (Greek and Hebrew) phrase
basically means “the majority.”
(b) Phil 1:1 “ . . . to those in Philippi with Bishops
[ejpivskopo"] and deacons”; cp. 1QS 6:12 “. . .
who is the overseer [rqbmh] of the general
membership [Mybrh] . . .” The Hebrew’s rqbm
appears to be the equivalent of Paul’s ejpivskopo".
Theological Terminology in
Paul and Qumran
(c) “righteousness of God”—Rom 1:17; 3:21 (dikaiosu/nh qeouv); cp. 1QS
1:21; 10:23 (la twqdx); 1QS 10:25; 11:12 (la tqdx).
(d) “grace of God”—Rom 5:15; 1 Cor 3:10 (hJ ca¿riß touv qeouv); cp. 1QS
11:12 (la ydsj).
(e) “works of the law”—Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10 (e¶rgoi no/mou);
cp. 1QS 6:18 (hrwtb wyCom); 4Q398 14–17 ii 3 = 4Q399 1 i 11 (yCom
txqm hrwt). More on this phrase below.
(f) “church of God”—1 Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:16; 15:9; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1
Thess 2:14; 2 Thess 1:4 (hJ e˙kklhsi÷a touv qeouv); cp. 1QM 4:10 (la
lhq). In the LXX lhq is translated either sunagwgh/ or e˙kklhsi÷a. The
phrase e˙kklhsi÷a qeouv occurs but once in the LXX (cf. Neh 13:1). In the
MT it is Myhwla lhq.
(g) “new covenant”—2 Cor 3:6 (kainh\ diaqh/kh); cp. CD (B) 19:33
(hCdjh tyrb); 20:12 (hCd«jh tyrb); 1QpHab 2:3 (hCdjh [tyrbb).
The “Works of the Law”
Paul’s argument: “yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of
the law [e˙x e¶rgwn no/mou ouj dikaiwqh/setai] but through faith in Jesus
Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be
justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no
one will be justified by the works of the law” (Gal 2:16).
“Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness
[kai« e˙logi÷sqh aujtwˆ◊ ei˙ß dikaiosu/nhn]’ [Gen 15:6]” (Gal 3:6; cf.
Romans 4).
“And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness
[hqFdFc; wø;l DhRbVvVjÅ¥yÅw]” (Gen 15:6). The verb is bvj (qal
waw-consecutive 3rd singular).
“Then Phinehas stood up and interceded, and the plague was stopped. 31 And
that has been reckoned to him as righteousness [hqFdFc;Il wøl
bRvDjE;tÅw] from generation to generation forever” (Ps 106:30–31). The
verb is bvj (niphal waw-consecutive 3rd singular).
Priestly Zeal for the Law
“Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: ‘Arrogance
and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. Now, my
children, show zeal for the law [zhlw&sate tw~| no&mw|], and give your lives for
the covenant of our fathers. Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did [ta_
e1rga tw~n pate/rwn a$ e0poi/hsan ] in their generations; and receive great honor
and an everlasting name. Was not Abraham found faithful when tested [Gen 22?], and
it was reckoned to him as righteousness [Gen 15:6 e0logi/sqh au)tw~| ei0j
dikaiosu&nhn]? Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and
became lord of Egypt. Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous [Num
25:6–9], received the covenant of everlasting priesthood [Num 25:10–13; Ps 106:30–
31]’” (1 Macc 2:49–54). Further clarification from James:
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works [e0c e1rgwn e0dikaiw&qh],
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar [Gen 22]? You see that faith was active
along with his works, and faith was completed by works [e0k tw~n e1rgwn h( pi/stij
e0teleiw&qh], and the scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God,
and it was reckoned to him as righteousness [e0pi/steusen de\ 0Abraa_m tw|~
qew|~, kai\ e0logi/sqh au)tw|~ ei0j dikaiosu&nhn]’; and he was called the friend
of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone [e0c e1rgwn
dikaiou~tai a!nqrwpoj kai\ ou)k e0k pi/stewj mo&non]” (James 2:21–24).
What Qumran has to Say
“Now, we have written to you 27some of the works of the Law
[hrwt yCom txqm], those which we determined would be
beneficial for you and your people, because we have seen [that]
28you possess insight and knowledge of the Law. Understand all
these things and beseech Him to set 29your counsel straight and so
keep you away from evil thoughts and the counsel of Belial.
30Then you shall rejoice at the end time when you find the
essence of our words to be true. 31And it will be reckoned to you
as righteousness [hqdxl Kl «hbCjnw], in that you have
done what is right and good before Him, to your own benefit
32and to that of Israel” (4QMMT C26–32). The verb is bvj
(niphal perfect 3rd singular).
The Smoking Gun
• 4Q398 frags. 14–17
> hqdxl
Kl «hbCjnw “and it
will be reckoned to you as
Saved by Works?
• The “Getting In vs. Staying In” Debate
• Simon Gathercole and salvation by
works. Gathercole rightly questions
aspects of the “new perspective” on
“New Perspective” Scholars
My Thoughts
In Rom 1:17 Paul cites Hab 2:4: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through
faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith’” (cf. Gal 3:11;
Heb 10:38). One should compare 1QpHab 8:1–3a (“1This refers to all those who obey the
Law among the Jews whom 2God will rescue from among those doomed to judgment,
because of their suffering and their loyalty 3to the Teacher of Righteousness”), where the
emphasis seems to fall on obedience to the Law, not on faith. Remember, the word faith
(pi÷stiß or hÎn…wmTa) can mean either “faith” or “faithfulness.” The former was Paul’s
point in his appeal to Gen 15:6, the latter was the point made by the author of 4QMMT, in
his appeal to Ps 106:30–31. See also CD 20:27b–34: “But all who hold fast to these rules,
going out 28and coming in according to the Law, always obeying the Teacher and
confessing to God as follows: ‘We have wickedly sinned, 29we and our ancestors by living
contrary to the covenant laws; just 30and true are your judgments against us’ and do not act
arrogantly against His holy laws and 31His righteous ordinances and His reliable
declarations and who discipline themselves by the old laws 32by which the members of the
Yahad were governed and listen attentively to the Teacher of Righteousness, not
abandoning 33the correct laws when they hear them they will rejoice and be happy and
exultant. They will rule over 34all the inhabitants of the earth. Then God will make
atonement for them and they will experience His deliverance because they have trusted in
His holy name.” Paul and the Essenes appear to have different understandings of gospel.
Hab 2:4 at Nahal Hever
MT: hyex;yI wOtnFw%m)[email protected] [email protected]:
OG: o( de\ di/kaioj e0k pi/stew&j mou zh&setai
Rom 1:17: o( de\ di/kaioj e0k pi/stewj zh&setai
8HevXIIgr 17.30: kai\ di/]kaioj e0n pi/stei au)tou~
Human Sinfulness
In Rom 1:18–32 Paul describes the sinful decline of humanity; cp. 1QS
3:13–4:26: “13A text belonging to the Instructor, who is to enlighten and
teach all the Sons of Light about the character and fate of humankind: 14all
their spiritual varieties with accompanying signs, all their deeds generation
by generation, and their visitation for afflictions together with 15eras of
peace . . . The judgment 12of all who walk in such ways will be multiple
afflictions at the hand of all the angels of perdition, everlasting damnation
in the wrath of God’s furious vengeance, never-ending terror and reproach
13for all eternity, with a shameful extinction in the fire of Hell’s outer
darkness. For all their eras, generation by generation, they will know
doleful sorrow, bitter evil and dark happenstance, until 14their utter
destruction with neither remnant nor rescue.”
Spiritual Dualism in Paul
In Rom 7:7–25 Paul describes the dualistic struggle within the believer—mind
attempting to yield to the Spirit, the carnal members yielding to the flesh; cp. 1QS
4:23b–25a (“Until now the spirits of truth and perversity have contended within the
human heart. 24All people walk in both wisdom and foolishness. As is a person’s
endowment of truth and righteousness, so shall he hate perversity; conversely, in
proportion to bequest in the lot of evil, one will act wickedly and 25abominate
truth.”); 11:9–15 (“As for me, to evil humanity and the counsel of perverse flesh do I
belong. My transgressions, evils, sins and corrupt heart 10belong to the counsel of
wormy rot and them who walk in darkness. Surely a man’s way is not his own;
neither can any person firm his own step. Surely justification is of God; by His
power 11is the way made perfect. All that shall be, He foreknows, all that is, His
plans establish; apart from Him is nothing done. As for me, if 12I stumble, God’s
mercy forever shall save me. If through sin of the flesh I fall, my justification will be
by the righteousness of God which endures for all time. 13Though my affliction break
out, He shall draw my soul back from the Pit, and firm my steps on the way. Through
His love He has brought me near; by His mercy shall he provide 14my justification.
By His righteous truth has He justified me; and through His exceeding goodness
shall He atone for all my sins. By His righteousness shall He cleanse me of human
15defilement.”); 1QH 12:29–31a (“What is mortal man in comparison with this? And
where is the vessel of clay that is able to carry out wondrous deeds? For he is sinful
30from the womb and in the guilt of unfaithfulness until old age. I know that man has
no righteousness, nor does the son of man walk in the perfect 31way.”).
Moulded Clay
In Rom 9:19–21 Paul likens a human to a lump of clay that God has moulded
for his own purposes: “You will say to me then, ‘Why then does he still find
fault? For who can resist his will?’ 20 But who indeed are you, a human
being, to argue with God? Will what is moulded say to the one who moulds
it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ 21 Has the potter no right over the
clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for
ordinary use?” Cp. 1QS 11:21–24a: “21You created from the dust for the
eternal council. The perverse spirit You have cleansed from great
transgression, that he might take his stand with 22the host of the holy ones,
and enter into community with the congregation of the sons of heaven. And
for man, You have allotted an eternal destiny with the spirits 23of knowledge,
to praise Your name together with shouts of joy, and to recount Your wonders
before all Your creatures. But I, a creature of 24clay, what am I? Kneaded
with water, for whom am I to be reckoned, and what is my strength?”
Stumbling Stone
In Rom 9:33 Paul quotes Isa 28:16: “as it is written, ‘See, I am laying in Zion
a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and
whoever believes in him will not be put to shame’.” In Rom 12:1–2 he
describes the Christian as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship” (cf. Phil 2:17; 4:18); cp. 1QS 8:4–10:
“When such men as these come to be in Israel, 5then shall the Council of the
Yahad truly be established, an “eternal planting” (Jub. 16:26), a temple for
Israel, and—mystery!—a Holy 6of Holies for Aaron; true witnesses to
justice, chosen by God’s will to atone for the land and to recompense 7the
wicked their due. They will be ‘the tested wall, the precious cornerstone’ (Isa
28:16) whose 8foundations shall neither be shaken nor swayed, a fortress, a
Holy of Holies 9for Aaron, all of them knowing the Covenant of Justice and
thereby offering a sweet savor. They shall be a blameless and true house in
Israel, 10upholding the covenant of eternal statutes. They shall be an
acceptable sacrifice, atoning for the land and ringing in the verdict against
evil, so that perversity ceases to exist.”
“Sons of Light”
“for you are all sons of light [ui˚oi« fwto/ß] and sons of the day; we are not of
the night or of darkness [sko/toß]” (1 Thess 5:5); “For once you were
darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light [te÷kna
fwto/ß]” (Eph 5:8).
“A text belonging to the Instructor, who is to enlighten and teach all the Sons
of Light [rwa ynb] about the character and fate of humankind” (1QS 3:13).
See also 1QS 1:9; 2:16; 3:24–25; 1QM 1:1, 3 etc.
“For the In[structor, the Rule of] the War. The first attack of the Sons of Light
[rwa ynb] shall be undertaken against the forces of the Sons of Darkness
[KCwj ynb], the army of Belial [loylb]: the troops of Edom, Moab, the
sons of Ammon . . . ” (1QM 1:1; cf. 2 Cor 6:15 “What agreement does Christ
have with Beliar [Belia¿r]? Or what does a believer share with an
Mystery and Revelations
“Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the
proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery
[kata» aÓpoka¿luyin musthri÷ou] that was kept secret for long ages”
(Rom 16:25).
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the
mystery of God [to\ musth/rion touv qeouv] to you in lofty words or
wisdom” (1 Cor 2:1).
“Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s
mysteries [musthri÷wn qeouv]” (1 Cor 4:1).
“. . . the design of Your holiness, penetrate the depth of Your mysteries
[hkyzr], or apprehend Your wonders . . .” (1QS 11:19).
“‘Mysteries of God [la yzr] to wipe out wickedness.’ On the trumpets of
pursuit they shall write, ‘God has struck all Sons of Darkness, He shall not
abate His anger until they are annihilated’” (1QM 3:9).
Flesh and Spirit
“By His truth God shall then purify all human deeds, and refine some of
humanity so as to extinguish every perverse spirit from the inward parts of
his flesh [wrCb], cleansing from every wicked deed by a holy spirit
[Cdwq jwrb]. Like purifying waters, He shall sprinkle each with a spirit
of truth, effectual against all the abominations of lying . . .” (1QS 4:20–
“For those who live according to the flesh [sa¿rx] set their minds on the
things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit [pneuvma]
set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom 8:5).
Covered Heads and Angels
In 1 Cor 11:10 Paul says “a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on
her head, because of the angels.” The statement has baffled interpreters for
centuries. The Scrolls may help. According to 1QM 7:6 and 1QSa 2:8–9
angels are present during holy war and during the assembly of the Yahad.
The implication seems to be that every aspect of human appearance and
conduct must be holy when in the context of worship or service of God. The
uncovered female head was viewed in the same category as a physical defect
or at least as inappropriate decorum. Paul is not talking about angels lusting
after women (therefore, women veil yourselves), as in some traditions
growing out of Genesis 6. See J. A. Fitzmyer, “A Feature of Qumran
Angelology and the Angels of 1 Cor. 11.10,” NTS 4 (1957) 48–58.
Order in the Assembly
According to Paul in 1 Cor 14:26–33, 40: “26What should be done then, my
friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a
revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building
up . . . 27each in turn . . . 28if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in
the assembly . . . 40all things should be done decently and in order.” Paul’s
recommendations are similar to those found in the Rule of the Community:
“This is the rule for the session of the general membership, each man being in
his proper place . . . each man may state his opinion 10to the Council of the
Yahad. None should interrupt the words of his comrade, speaking before his
brother finishes what he has to say. Neither should anyone speak before
another of 11higher rank. Only the man being questioned shall speak in his
turn. During the session of the general membership no man should say
anything except by the permission of the general membership, or more
particularly, of the man 12who is the Overseer of the general membership. If
any man has something to say to the general membership, yet is of a lower
rank than whoever is guiding the deliberations of the Council of the
13Community, let him stand up. He should then say, ‘I have something to say
to the general membership.’ If they permit, he may speak” (1QS 6:8–13).
James and Doing the Law
In 1QpHab 7:10–11; 8:1 we read of “those who do the Law” (hrwth
yCwo). In 12:4 the “poor ones” are “the simple of Judah, doer(s) of the
Torah” (hrwth hCwo). In 4Q185 3 i 3 we have a fragment with a
reference to “doing the words of the covenant” (tyrb yrbd hco[). The
parallel with Jas 1:22 is suggestive: “be doers of the word (poihtai«
lo/gou), and not hearers only, deluding your own selves.” The Hebrew
MyIcOo, which probably underlies the Greek poihtai/, may lie behind the
transliteration “Essene.” Essenes and early Christians apparently regarded
themselves as “doers of the Law”/“word.” hCo appears twenty-six times in
1QSerek, five times in col. 1 alone. In favor of this understanding is
Stephen Goranson, “Others and Intra-Jewish Polemic in Qumran Texts,” in
Peter W. Flint and James C. VanderKam (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls after
Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, vol. II (Leiden: Brill, 1999) 534–
51, esp. 539
Melchizedek in Hebrews
In 11QMelchizedek, Melchizedek appears as a divine being
(indeed, even takes the place of Yahweh in a quotation of Isa
61:2 “the year of Melchiz[edek]’s favor”). In some of the
fragments of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice Melchizedek
appears in the role of a heavenly high priest. These magnified
presentations of Melchizedek in Jewish traditions that antedate
Christianity probably help explain why the author of Hebrews
(see esp. chap. 7) presents Jesus as a heavenly high priest
according to the order of Melchizedek. (See also Ps 110:4: “You
are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”)
Spiritual Sacrifice in Hebrews
According to Heb 13:15: “Through him then let us continually offer up a
sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to his
name.” This language is similar to ideas found in the Rule of the Community:
“Then indeed will he be accepted by God, offering the sweet savor of atoning
sacrifice” (1QS 3:11); “They shall be an acceptable sacrifice, atoning for the
land and ringing in the verdict against evil, so that perversity ceases to exist”
(8:10); “They shall atone for the guilt of transgression and the rebellion of sin,
becoming an acceptable sacrifice for the land through the flesh of burnt
offerings, the fat of sacrificial portions and prayer, becoming—as it were—
justice itself, a sweet savor of righteousness and blameless behavior, a
pleasing free-will offering” (9:4–5).
The Use of the Scrolls for New
Testament Interpretation
• Linguistic
• Contextual (religious, political, social,
• Hermeneutical and exegetical
• Ecclesiastical
• Theological