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Christogenea Saturdays, May 12th, 2012 - What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Submitted by William Finck on Sat, 05/12/2012 - 23:02
- Length: 122:08 minutes (48.92 MB)
- Format: MP3 Stereo 22kHz 56Kbps
This program is aimed at providing the Christian Identity community with an objective look at the Dead Sea Scrolls, what they are and what they contain. I feel that this is necessary, because there is so much propaganda which persists to this day concerning the scrolls, and many people even in Christian Identity abuse the Scrolls in order to promote their own pet theories concerning certain things. First, the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes is most likely wrong, and that will be addressed here. Secondly, the idea that the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls were Christians is absolutely wrong. Thirdly, the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls would somehow shake the foundations of Western religion or force us to change our more traditional views in reference to Christianity is absolutely wrong, and that will also be expounded upon further and hopefully become evident as we proceed.
There is no substantial evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by Essenes. Reading the professional archaeology journals, scholars and academics refer to the authors of the scrolls as the Qumran sect or the Dead Sea sect, and that is proper since a definite identification of these people with any of the historically known sects of Judaea cannot be made with any absolute certainty. Therefore here the writers – or possibly only the keepers – of the Dead Sea Scrolls shall be referred to as the Qumran sect, although I shall set forth my own ideas in reference to their identity later on in the discussion.
Some may point to a certain passage in Pliny’s Natural History, at 5:73, which, according to the claims of some people, seems to support the identity of Qumran as an Essene settlement, yet there is much dispute concerning this passage, for which see Biblical Archaeology Review, July-August 2002, p. 18, “Searching for Essenes” for the details of this argument. Pliny described the Essenes in a few lines, and said that there was a city of Essenes at Engedi (Ein Gedi), which is on the Dead Sea about midway between its northern and southern limits. Pliny's account was not first-hand, but was evidently received from a Roman named Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. However both Philo and Josephus attest that Essenes had no city of their own, but dwelt in many places throughout Palestine. Josephus testified that the Essenes “have no 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 ...” (Wars 2.8.4). And so there are difficulties with identifying the members of the Qumran sect as Essenes.
Engedi is also at least 20 miles south of where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, which was a far distance in tiny and ancient Palestine. Even if a large number of Essenes did dwell at Engedi, this is far from proof that the Qumran sect were Essenes. Jerusalem itself is closer to Qumran than Engedi! These things are still argued among the jews, and it seems to me that the earliest and largest proponents of the identification of the Qumran sect as Essenes are certain jews. At Qumran, one archaeological site near to where the scrolls were found contains remains of what can only be described as a villa, or country estate. So far as has been determined, there was no large town or city at Qumran 2000 years ago.
Here we should discuss the Essenes, so that we understand them as well as we can before determining whether or not the Dead Sea Scrolls belonged to them. Josephus’ description of the Essenes, found at Wars 2.8.2-3 (2: 119-122) is very much like Luke’s of some of the first Christians (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37), yet that does not necessarily mean that these first Christians were Essenes, or that Essenes were the first Christians.
Here is the passage from Josephus which describes the communal living of the Essenes:
Josephus' Wars 2:119-122: “119 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 Essenes. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. 120 These Essenes reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but select 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. 121 They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behaviour of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man. 122 These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there anyone to be found among them who has 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 everyone's possessions are intermingled with everyone's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren.”
Here are the passages from Acts which describes the communal living of early Christians:
Acts 2:44-47: “44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Acts 4:32-37: “32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.”
While some of the sectarian documents found at Qumran do indicate that the possessions of sect members were controlled by the sect and not by the individual, such as 4QRule of the Community, i.e. 4Q256 Col. IX (frag. 4) and 4Q258 Col. I (frags. 1a1, 1b), so it may appear that these people were Essenes, yet such communal societies were certainly not novel and they occurred elsewhere. For instance, Diodorus Siculus said of certain Greek colonists at Lipara that they “took over the cultivation of the islands which they had made the common property of the community ... their possessions also they made common property, and living according to the public mess system, they passed their lives in this communistic fashion for some time” (Loeb Library edition, 5.9.4-5). Diodorus wrote from about 50 B.C., and so it is quite possible that other groups besides the Essenes lived in a communal fashion, this way of life known among both Greeks and Hebrews.
Yet others of the Qumran documents suggest that these people did not live in a truly communal manner, such as 4QInstruction, at 4Q416 Fragment 2 and 4Q417 Fragment 1 which discuss the borrowing of necessities, and advise of the need to repay such loans as quickly as possible. These do not seem to be Essene teachings, since in a community where all things are held in common there should be no need for borrowing, or to make repayment for what one requires. This is especially true if the Qumran sect was as wealthy as the treasures which are listed on the Copper Scroll purports it to be.
From the scroll known as 4QInstruction, from 4Q416 Fragment 2 Column ii Lines 4 and 5:
4 … If a man’s creditor has lent him in money, hastily pay it back,and you will be even with him. For the purse 5 of your treasures you have entrusted to your creditor; on account of your neighbors you have given all your life with it....
From the scroll known as 4QInstruction, from 4Q417 Fragment 1 Column ii Lines 19 to 28:
19 And if you are in want, for what you lack, borrow without money, for God’s treasure house will not be lacking. At 20 His command everything will come into being, and that which He gives your for food, eat it and no more, le[st you sho]rten 21 your life. If you borrow money from men for your need, do not […] 22 day or night, and let there be no rest for your soul, [until] you have repaid [your] creditor. Do not lie 23 to him, lest you should bear guilt. And also do not out of shame […] and you will not be able to rely on his neighbor, 24 and when you are in need, he will close his hand like a hook. […] and like him borrow, and know his desires.] 25 And if misfortune strikes you, and he closes [his hand …]do not hide it from your creditor,] 26 lest he reveal your disgrace […] ruler over him. And then 27 he will not smite him with a stick […] … and no 28 more.
Regardless of what one thinks about the advice on credit and payment, such advice is frequent in the scrolls, but in my opinion it defies the idea that it belongs to a large religious group, spread throughout Palestine, which shared everything that it had in a communal fashion. Such a group should have little need for borrowing, especially since they lived as Josephus described them. Josephus too, was an authority on the Essenes, as he relates in his own biographical work, he had joined the sect as a young man and stayed with it for several years before leaving, so he therefore knew it intimately. So while the Qumran sect members were required upon joining to turn their property over to the community, nevertheless since they were described in their own literature as having been required to borrow for their necessities when they were needful, they are seemingly not either Essenes or Christians.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are roughly twenty-five thousand fragments of text found in the late 1940's and early 1950's in several caves near the West Bank. Many of these fragments are quite small, however a few large scrolls were well-preserved, including copies of Isaiah and Psalms. Copies of Deuteronomy are also well-represented. With their discovery, the Rockefeller family funded a museum on the West Bank to house and study the scrolls. Archaeologists and other scholars, many from the United States, Britain, and other Western nations, studied them there until 1967. In the Six-Day War the jews seized the West Bank, and shut off all access to the Scrolls until after 1992. During this period, only select jewish academics were allowed access. Even shut-out jews complained, an example being Geza Vermes who even wrote about it in his books. So for 25 years most scholars were totally shut out of access to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
By the late 1950's most of the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls had been transcribed, but they were not yet published. John Strugnell, a professor at the Harvard Divinity School, was the chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. He was also intimately acquainted with the scrolls both before 1967 and after 1992. Once Strugnell complained of missing scrolls and nefarious deals between certain Israeli academics and antiquities dealers, among other things, he was labeled an “anti-semite”, accused of being a depressed drunkard, and there was a successful campaign on the part of the jews to have him removed from his position. This all sounds like typical jewish treachery, and for these and various other reasons, I would suspect that we certainly do not have all of the information which the Dead Sea Scrolls may have contained. Strugnell reportedly complained of several missing scrolls, including a copy of the Temple Scroll and a complete copy of Enoch.
Most of what are now known and published as the Dead Sea Scrolls fall into one of several general categories, which I would generally identify as follows:
1) Copies or translations of Biblical books; 2) Copies or translations of known apocryphal books; 3) Sectarian commentaries on Biblical books; 4) Prayers and prophecies peculiar to the sect that kept the scrolls; 5) Scrolls of instruction for and governance of the members of the sect. Each of these categories can be and often are broken down into further sub-divisions.
There are some other miscellaneous documents, such as the calendrical documents, or the Copper Scroll which is a description of buried treasure which the sect supposedly had in various places, which don’t really fit into one of these categories.
An example from the Copper Scroll, or 3Q15, Col. I:
1 In the ruin which is in the valley of Acor, under 2 the steps leading to the East, 3 forty long cubits: a chest of silver and its vessels 4 with a weight of seventeen talents. 5 In the sepulchral monument, in the third course: 6 one hundred gold ingots. In the great cistern of the courtyard 7 of the peristyle, in a hollow in the floor covered with sediment, 8 in front of the upper opening: nine hundred talents. 9 In the hill of Kohlit, tithe-vessels, flasks and sacred vestments; 10 the total of the tithes and of the treasure is a seventh of a 11 second tithe made unclean. Its opening lies on the edges of the channel from the North, 12 six cubits in the direction of the cave of the ablutions, 13 In the plastered cistern of Manos, going down to the left, 14 at a height of three cubits from the bottom: silver, forty 15 talents.
Another example from the Copper Scroll, Col. III:
1 In the courtyard of [...], underneath the South corner, 2 at nine cubits: gold and silver 3 tithe-vessels, goblets, cups, jars, 4 vases; total: six hundred and nine. 5 Beneath the other, eastern corner, 6 dig for sixteen cubits: 7 forty talents of silver. 8 In the tunnel which is in Milcham, to the North: 9 tithe-vessels (and) sacred garments. Its entrance is 10 beneath the western corner. 11 In the tomb which is in Milcham, to the North- 12 east, three cubits below the stone- 13 slab: thirteen talents.
Another example from the Copper Scroll, Col. IX:
1 In the dovecote which is on the edge of Nataf, measure from its edge 2 thirteen cubits, dig for two, and under seven slabs: 3 four bars of steryn (coins ?). 4 <In the second estate,> under the cellar facing 5 to the East, dig for eight cubits: 6 and a half: twenty-three and a half talents. 7 In the cellars of Choron, in the side facing the sea, 8 in the basin dig for sixteen cubits: 9 twenty-two talents. 10 In the fosse: much silver of offering. 11 In the waterfalls near the edge of the conduit, 12 to the East of their outlet, dig 13 for seven cubits: nine talents. 14 In the cistern which is to the North of the mouth of the narrow pass of Beth 15 Tamar, in the rocky ground of Ger Pela, 16 everything which is there is a sacred offering. 17 In the dovecote of the fortress of Nabata [...]
The talk of buried treasure in the Copper Scroll may have lent fuel to the searches for treasure in Palestine which were said to have been conducted during the Crusades, by groups such as the Knights Templar. Found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, not only does it lend further doubt to the Qumran sect's identification as Essenes, but it is also evident that of all the scrolls, the only one inscribed in copper, a most durable material, was this one which kept record of their treasure. So much did they esteem the value of Scripture over mammon!
There is another document known as the Damascus Document, so called because of the many prophetic references to Damascus which it contains. While these by themselves are not worthy of separate mention apart from an examination of the sectarian literature found among the scrolls, much of this document very closely matched parts of another document found in a synagogue in Cairo which date to as early as the 10th century AD, and therefore that also is often published along with editions of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So the copy found in Cairo is called the Cairo Damascus Document, although that version also contains passages found elsewhere in the Jewish rabbinical literature that it accompanied when it was discovered. Therefore, through the Cairo Damascus Document, some of the material found among the Dead Sea Scrolls was known to scholars before the scrolls themselves were discovered.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are numbered with a catalog number in the fashion #Q#, where the first number is the cave where the scroll was said to be found, 1 through 11, and the second is a serial number of the scrolls and/or fragments from each particular cave. Additionally, many of the notable scrolls also have a familiar name. For example, the Copper Scroll mentioned above is known by its catalog number 3Q15.
1) Copies or translations of Biblical books:
Fragments of most of the books from the Old Testament have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are also fragments of some of the Biblical books in Greek and identified with the Septuagint which were also found among the scrolls, so the Qumran sect were certainly not Hebrew purists. However at least several of the Greek texts have the Tetragrammaton, YHVH, rather than the word kurios, wherever it appears in the manuscripts. Unfortunately, many critical passages disputed in our Bibles are not represented. That does not mean that they did not exist, but only that those parts of the scrolls disintegrated with time. For instance, Genesis 3:15 through 4:1 and the beginning of Genesis chapter 6 are all wanting.
Interestingly, copies of Nehemiah or of what we can recognize as Esther have not been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unscrupulously, there are fragments of documents now labeled by the jews as “Proto-Esther” which were found in the fifth cave of Qumran. They mention a Persian king Darius, several other Persian figures, and one figure who was identified as a Judaean of the captivity. However there is not one phrase or sentence among these fragments which can identify them with the Book of Esther that is found in modern Bibles. The label of “Proto-Esther” for these fragments is dishonest.
The copies of Biblical books are treated separately by academics from the copies of other literature found at Qumran, and have often been published separately. This is probably because most academics are quite familiar with Biblical literature, and the non-Biblical literature which was found would arouse greater interest among scholars, and therefore is usually published separately. In fact, it was a long time before translations of the Biblical books were published at all.
Even if the Dead Sea Scrolls contained all Old Testament Scripture, it could still not be considered an easy elixir for use in resolving Biblical difficulties and disputes surrounding the many texts. One example I will give in this instance is one of the many disputes over chronology. Some argue after the Masoretic Text, that the time which the children of Israel spent in Egypt alone 430 years. Others – and in my opinion the wiser group – aver that the time from the call of Abraham unto the Exodus was a total of 430 years. This was the opinion given by Paul when he stated at Galatians chapter 3 where he stated: “16 Now to Abraham the promises have been spoken, and to his offspring. It does not say “and to offsprings”, as of many; but as of one: “and to your offspring,” which are anointed. 17 Now this I say, a covenant validated beforehand by Yahweh, the law which arrived after four hundred and thirty years does not invalidate, by which the promise is left idle.”
Yet the Masoretic Text and Dead Sea Scrolls are used as supports by the former group, while Paul, the Septuagint, Josephus, and also the Samaritan Pentateuch are all used as a support for the later. What follows are the relevant passages:
The King James Version of Exodus 12:40: Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
From the Dead Sea Scrolls at Exodus 12:40: “[Now the time t]hat the children of Israel [dwel]t in the land of E[gy]pt was four hundred and thirty years.”
The Septuagint version of Exodus 12:40: And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years.
From Josephus' Antiquities, 2:318 (2.15.2): “They left Egypt in the month of Xanthikos, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob moved into Egypt.”
So we see the difficulty in relying upon one text or another by itself for the truth, and the folly in choosing a referee from the plain reading of the text alone. Context, the context of the entire Bible, should be our first referee in these matters. Examining the generations with Jacob when they entered into Egypt, and the intermittent genealogies, along with the lists of the generations which emerged from Egypt, we see that only seven or eight generations had elapsed during the entire sojourn in Egypt, and that four of those seven or eight generations took part in the Exodus, from Moses who at eighty years was among the eldest of them, down to the youngest infants recorded as having been already born. Moses was the great-grandson of Levi, and at 80 years of age when the Exodus began, we see a total of no more than seven or eight generations from Levi to the Exodus. Genesis 46:11 tells us that three of Levi's sons were already born when Levi went to Egypt with his father, so Levi was by no means a child. All of this is consistent with the words of Paul and Josephus, and with Josephus' calculation of 215 years for the sojourn in Egypt, and not with those who maintain that all 430 years represented the time in Egypt.
2) Copies or translations of known apocryphal books:
Fragments of books such as Jubilees, Tobit, 1 Enoch (which actually includes the separate Book of Noah, Book of Giants [where even Gilgamesh is mentioned], and other works), the astronomical writings attributed to Enoch, and the Testaments of the Patriarchs, along with many Apocryphal works and even some which I had not seen in other sources have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. However the existence of these works in the scrolls is not by itself a sign of their canonicity. Rather, we must realize that these scrolls are part of the library of just one sect in Judaea, and that sect is not necessarily any better than the other sects which we know had their own problems and disputes over the legitimacy of various religious writings.
3) Sectarian commentaries on Biblical books:
There were many commentaries and expansions of Biblical books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The most famous of these are probably the Genesis Apocryphon, a retelling of the Genesis account with many elaborations, or the Habbakuk pesher. The many apocryphon books of the Dead Sea Scrolls contained elaborate retellings of many of the books of Scripture. The peshers are commentaries on the Biblical books, and there were also many of them.
Here is an example of the text from the Commentary on Genesis:
From 4QCommentary on Genesis A, or 4Q252, Column 1:
1 [Gen. 7:10 – 8:13 In] the year four hundred and eighty of Noah's life, Noah reached the end of them. And God 2 said: «My spirit will not reside in man for ever. Their days shall be fixed at one hundred and twenty 3 years until the end of the waters of the flood ». And the waters of the flood burst over the earth. In the year six hundred 4 of Noah's life, in the second month, on the first (day) of the week, on its seventeenth (day), on that day 5 all the springs of the great abyss were split and the sluices of the sky opened and rain fell upon 6 the earth forty days and forty nights, until the twenty-sixth day of the third 7 month, the fifth day of the week. One hundred and fifty days did the wate[rs] hold sway over the [ea]rth, 8 until the fourteenth day in the seventh month, the third (day) of the week. At the end of 9 one hundred and fifty days, the waters came down (during) two days, the fourth day and the fifth day, and the 10 sixth day, the ark rested in the mountains of Hurarat, i[t was] the seventeenth [da]y of the seventh month.
Throughout the Biblical expansions and commentaries of the Dead Sea Scrolls we see references to a figure called, among other things, the Teacher of Righteousness. There are also references to the Wicked Priest, the Spreader of the Lie, or similar epithets. Many fools (including mainstream academics) have tried to identify these figures with certain historical persons. However these names appear throughout all Biblical contexts, from the days of the ancient histories and prophets all the way up to the period in which the Scrolls were written. Rather than pointing to any particular historical figures, these figures instead represented the ideas of justice and injustice, truth and lies, God and satan, as they manifest themselves in the world at particular times through the hands of men in general.
The scrolls mention a “Spreader of the Lie” (1QPesher to Micah or 1Q14 Frags. 8-10), a “Teacher of Lies” (4QIsaiah Pesher or 4Q163 Frags. 4-6 Col. I), a “Man of the Lie” (1QPesher to Habakkuk or 1QpHab Cols. II and V), and a “Man of Lies” (4QPsalms Pesher or 4Q171 Cols. I and IV), in addition to the mentions in the Pesharim (plural for Pesher) of a “Wicked Priest” (i.e. 1QpHab, Cols. I, IX, and XII). These Pesharim, or interpretations of Old Testament books, are the only places in the Dead Sea Scrolls where I have found the terms “Spreader of the Lie”, “Man of the Lie” or “Man of Lies”, and these are hardly viable evidence identifying any historical figure in particular, in the contexts in which they appear. Here we shall investigate some of these instances:
1Q14 contains parts of an interpretation of Micah chapter 1. From fragments 8-10: “What are the high places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? I will reduce Samaria to a country ruin, to a plot of vines. Its interpretation concerns the Spreader of the Lie who has misdirected the simple.”
4Q171 contains parts of an interpretation of Psalm 37. From Column I: “... the arrogant ones choose ... who love slovenliness and misdirect ... wickedness at the hands of Ephraim. Be silent before YHWH and wait for him, do not be annoyed with one who has success, with someone who hatches plots. Its interpretation concerns the Man of Lies who misdirected many with deceptive words ...”
So here it should be fully manifest, that the epithets “Spreader of the Lie” or “Man of Lies” as used in the Dead Sea Scrolls cannot possibly be referring to any more recent historical figure, unless one wants to believe that figure was alive in the days of Micah, having misdirected the people of Samaria! and that figure was alive in the days of David, having misdirected the children of Ephraim! Even academics who make these claims try to say that the “wicked Priest” or “Man of Lies” was a figure from the period of the Maccabees or even the Roman period and the time of Herod.
Often in these very same Pesharim this Liar is contrasted to the “Teacher of Righteousness”, such as at 1QpHab, an interpretation of the prophet Habakkuk, in Columns II and V. It is clear in other Pesharim that this “Teacher of Righteousness” is no contemporary man or sect leader, but is rather an epithet for the expected Messiah. From 4QIsaiah Pesher, 4Q165 Fragments 1-2 which contain an interpretation of Isaiah 40:11: “The interpretation of the word concerns the Teacher of Righteousness who reveals just teachings” (cf. John 4:24-26). Since the Qumran sect had not yet met their Messiah, and knew nothing of Yahshua Christ, their Liar certainly cannot be Paul of Tarsus, as many of the Paul-bashers in Christian Identity have claimed. Rather, it is clear from the context of the Pesharim that “Spreader of the Lie”, or “Man of Lies”, or “Man of the Lie” is another epithet for Satan, or the Adversary, i.e. Genesis 3:4-5, John 8:44. In all fairness, no other identification could possibly be made within the context which the scrolls themselves provide. While in other instances the epithet “Teacher of Righteousness” indicates a much earlier prophet or leader of the people, such as in the Damascus Document, or CD-B, Column XX, another copy of which is 4QDamascus Document or 4Q266, where the epithet occurs in Fragment 2, Column 1, yet since these certainly do not refer to Yahshua Christ, or to John the Baptist, as some wayward pseudo-Christian cults would also claim, such as the circus which was once led by Joseph Jeffers.
That the “Dead Sea Scrolls and their translations were kept under wraps for decades in fear that ‘they would shake the foundations of Western religion’” is a frequently repeated but blatant lie which cannot be substantiated. The scrolls were first discovered in 1947, and they were collected and deposited in a museum in the West Bank region of Palestine, where for twenty years they were studied by western scholars, and photographs were made of all the scrolls and fragments. In 1967, during the six-day war when the jews seized control of the West Bank, it was they who seized control of the museum that the scrolls were housed in, having restricted access to all but a select few of their own scholars. In the early 1990’s the jews again began to grant access to the scrolls to others. This story is well known and can be found in books such as The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English by Geza Vermes, a jew who was also denied access to the scrolls during the 25 year period in which they were restricted. It is hardly conceivable that the jews would cut off access to the scrolls in order to protect Christianity, and books about the scrolls and their contents had already been published, such as The Scrolls From The Dead Sea, by Edmund Wilson in 1955. If anything, the jews would only want to make certain that nothing could get out which exposed the lies which they tell about themselves for the frauds which they are.
4) Prayers and prophecies peculiar to the sect that kept the scrolls:
There were many prayers, incantations, songs, and similar writings found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also found is wisdom literature, which sometimes reads more like a legalistic guide for daily life rather than like the inspired wisdom books of the Bible or Septuagint Apocrypha. Among the many items of interest are incantations which show a racial awareness which does not seem to have been reflected in the sects writings or actions concerning their own times.
From 4Q444, or 4QIncantation, An example of an incantation for exorcism, although highly fragmentary:
Frag. 1 1 And I belong to those who fear God; he opened my mouth with his true knowledge, and from his holy spirit […] 2 ... [...] and they became spirits of dispute in my build. The precept of [...] 3 [...] the innards of the flesh. A spirit of knowledge and understanding, truth and justice, did God place in [my] hea[rt...] 4 [...] ... and be strong in the precepts of God, and in battling the spirits of iniquity, and not ... [...]
Frag. 2 col. I (Frag. 1 lines 5 - 8; = 4Q511 121 ?) 1 [...the wailing cr]ies of her mourning. I will subdue 2 [...] ... the truth and the justice 3 [... afflictions,] and until its dominions are complete 4 [... those who inspire him fear, all the spirits of the b]astards and the spirit of uncleanness
Frag. 3 (Frag.
1 lines 9 - 11) I [...] he has weighed, and the hills [...] 2 [...
ri]ghteous ones ... [...] 3 [... im]purity of [their] abomination[s
From 4Q560, or 4QExorcism, although another highly fragmentary scroll, this is valuable to Christians, because it shows that all of the dialogue concerning possession by demons is not limited to the New Testament accounts alone.:
Frag. 1 col. I 1 [...] and heart and … [...] 2 [...] the midwife, the chastisement of girls. Evil visitor ... [...] 3 [... who] enters the flesh, the male penetrator and the female penetrator 4 [...] ... iniquity and guilt; fever and chills, and heat of the heart 5 [...] in sleep, he who crushes the male and she who passes through the female, those who dig 6 [ ... w]icked [...] ... 7 [...] ... [...]
Frag. I col. II 2 before [him ...] 3 and ... [...] 4 before him and ... [...] 5 And I, O spirit, adjure [...] 6 I enchant you, O spirit, [...] 7 [o]n the earth, in clouds [...] 8 [...] ... [ ...]
A major example of the prophetic writings found among the Dead Sea Scrolls is the War Scroll. The War Scroll found in 4Q491 through 4Q497 and some other Qumran scrolls, peculiar to the Qumran sect, was written by a vain and false prophet who described a grandiose apocalyptic scenario depicting a final battle between the remnant of Israel in Palestine and the “Empire of the Kittim”, which was the name that the sect gave to the Romans, which was also sometimes called the “Empire of Belial” (i.e. 4Q491 Fragments 8-10 Col. I). This battle was to end with the aggrandizement of the remnant of Israel, which they saw as their own sect, and with the fall and destruction of Rome. The sect interpreted parts of Isaiah chapter 10 in this same manner, for which see 4Q161 Fragments 8-10. Since the Qumran sect seemed to know nothing of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., and even mentions the city on occasion, (i.e. 4Q504, Fragments 1-2, Col. IV) the War Scroll requires a dating for the Qumran sect somewhere between Pompey’s conquest of Judaea where it was subjected to Rome, and the revolt from Rome beginning about 65 A.D. which resulted in Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D., a period of about 132 years. Since the scrolls lack mention of any contemporary historical figures or specific historic events, I know nothing (though others may) by which the scrolls can be dated more precisely.
There was a fourth large sect in Judaea, that of Judas the Galilaian, which Josephus said was noted for their refusal to heed any authority but God, and also for inspiring revolt from Rome. Josephus describes them at Antiquities 18.1.6 (18:23-25). This is in such agreement with the Qumran sect’s apocalyptic documents that this sect is as good a candidate for Qumran as the Essenes.
From Josephus' Antiquities, 18:23-25 : “23 But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty; and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relatives and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord; 24 and since this immovable resolution of theirs is well known to a great many, I shall speak no further about that matter; nor am I afraid that anything I have said of them should be disbelieved, but rather fear that what I have said is beneath the resolution they show when they undergo pain; 25 and it was in Gessius Florus' time that the nation began to grow mad with this distemper, who was our procurator, and who occasioned the Jews to go wild with it by the abuse of his authority, and to make them revolt from the Romans. And these are the sects of Jewish philosophy.”
The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were not only vehemently anti-Roman, as Josephus describes this fourth sect in Judaea, but they also agreed with the Pharisees in many religious respects. They held the two-messiah belief that the Talmudists had from the earliest times, which is evident in 1QRule of the Community (1QS) and other documents, and they held the same views on the Sabbath which Christ upbraided the Pharisees for, among other things. For these reasons, I am persuaded that this sect was responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and as Josephus infers here, may even have helped to instigate the war with the Romans.
5) Scrolls of instruction for and governance of the members of the sect.
The Damascus Document, which is related to the various copies of the documents entitled Rule of the Community, and several other documents all fall into this category. They are of value if one wishes to understand the religious rituals and ordinances of the sect. Additionally there were some legal documents, such as accounts of grain and livestock or acknowledgments of debts or exchanges, which were found among the documents at Qumran. There were also scrolls containing instructions for religious purposes, such as the Ritual of Purification scrolls, where ritual cleansing in baptism is found much as it is in early Greek texts, for the removal of sin.
From 4Q414, or 4QRitual of Purification A:
Frags. 1 col. II + 2 col. I I [... and he will reply and] say: Blessed 2 [ ... ] the pure ones of the periods of 3 your light [...] your [...] and to atone for us 4 according to your will [... to be] pure in your presence 5 contin[uous]ly. [...] ... in every word 6 [...] to purify oneself before 7 [...] You have made us
Frags. 2 col. II + 3 (cf. 4Q512 42 - 44 II) 1 and you will puri[fy] him according to [your] holy laws [...] 2 for the first, the third and the se[venth ...] 3 in the truth of your covenant [...] 4 to purify oneself from the impurity of [...] 5 And afterwards he will enter the water [...] 6 And he will reply and say: Blessed are y[ou, God of Israel ...] 7 because from what issues from your mouth [the purification of all] has been [defined ...] 8 men of impurity ... [...]
Frag. 7 col. II 1 his [clo]thes and in the water [...] 2 [...] And he will bless [... Blessed are you, God of] 3 Israel who [...] 4 before you from all [...] 5 your holiness [... not] 6 have you forsaken [...]
Frag. 10 1 soul ... [...] 2 that [...] 3 for you, to a pu[re] people [...] 4 And I, too, ... [...] 5 today, when [...] 6 in the periods of purification [...] 7 together. [...] 8 During the purifications of [I]srael ... [...] 9 [and] they will sit [...] 10 And it will happen on the day of [...] 11 a woman, and give thanks [...]12 [...] ... [...]
Frag. 12 1 for you made ... [...] 2 your wil[l], to purify oneself before [you ...] 3 and he established for him a regulation of atonement (?) [...] 4 and to be in j[ust] purity [...] 5 and he will w[as]h in water and sprinkle up[on ...] 6 [...] ... And afterwards he will come back ... [...] 7 purifying his people with the water which washes [...] 8 [...] second in his position ... [...] 9 [...] your puri[fica]tion in your glory [...] 10 [...] ... [...]
There is another scroll discussing rituals, called 4QMMT – after an acronym of Hebrew words which means to abbreviate the phrase “some of the works of the law”. It describes the rituals of the Old Testament, and seeing this, along with the use of that same phrase in Greek in the Septuagint, we are aided in understanding what Paul meant by his frequent use of the phrase, “works of the law”, in reference to those same rituals.
There is No Christianity in the Dead Sea Scrolls:
Yet one thing is certain, and that is that there is no mention of Christ or anything Christian in the Qumran scrolls, and even if the sect had heard about Christianity, they surely made no mention of it. Even if Essenes were among the first Christians, which is not certain, and even if the people of Qumran were Essenes, the people of Qumran were not Christians! The people of Qumran were still awaiting the Messiah, who would lead them in the destruction of the Kittim (their name for the Romans), as evident in the eschatological scroll 4QSefer ha-Milhamah, or 4Q285 Fragment 5, and in many places elsewhere.
The Qumran sect’s post-Apocalyptic New Jerusalem scroll (parts of which are found in 1Q32; 2Q24; 4Q232, 365a, 554, 554a, 555; 5Q15 and 11Q18) talks about Passover sacrifices and offerings (i.e. 11Q18 Fragments 16, 17 and 27), so the Christian understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 and 1 Cor. 5:7 is wanting at Qumran. Other scrolls, such as 4QRitual of Purification B (4Q512) and 4QOrdinances (4Q514) place an emphasis on ritual purification (baptism), which after the baptism of John we see Christ rejecting before the Pharisees (i.e. Mark 7:1-23). The Qumran sect, while anti-Roman and separatist, surely clung to traditional Judaism. This is precisely how Josephus described that fourth sect of the Judaeans. While not Pharisees, neither were they Sadducees, since they believed in spirits and the continued life of the soul after the death of the body: things which the Sadducees fully rejected (Antiquities 18.1.4; Acts 23:8). Now it should be apparent that while the Dead Sea Scrolls may have been produced during the time of the growth of Christianity during its initial years, this is not necessarily so, and since the sect was surely not Christian, nor were they advertently anti-Christian, having no apparent knowledge of Christ, since they never expressed as much in any of their writings. We cannot find any of the Christian figures in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in spite of any claims to the contrary which many have made.
One more Dead Sea Scrolls passage which shows that the Qumran sect was not Christian is in 4Q271, Fragment 5, Column I, a portion of the Damascus Document, where it says: “No-one should help an animal give birth on the Sabbath day. And if it has fallen into a well or a pit, he should not take it out on the Sabbath ... And any living man who falls into a place of water or a well, no-one should take him out with a ladder or a rope or a utensil.” In the Christian mind, this should immediately evoke the words of Yahshua Christ recorded at Matt. 12:9-13 and Luke 14:1-6, for He would surely want us to help the animal, and especially the man, immediately on the Sabbath!
Luke 14:1-6: “1 And it happened while He entered into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread that they were watching Him closely. 2 Then behold, there was a certain edematous man before Him. 3 And responding Yahshua spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees saying: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they were silent. Then taking him, He cured and released him. 5 And he said to them “Of which among you should a son or a steer fall into a well, and you should not immediately pull it out on the day of the Sabbath?” 6 And they were not able to argue against these things.”
Therefore we see that the Qumran sect was in this regard not Christian, but rather very much like the Pharisees, they were legalists.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are an enigma to most people, who will never have the time or the initiative to read them. The fullest published edition of the scrolls is Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, Oxford University Press, which is 38 volumes the last time I read about it but may be even more now. Christians should always be wary of anyone who makes claims concerning their content without making any citations or any display of the content and context upon which those claims are based. Without following a scholarly criteria, one may say almost anything since nearly all of the intended audience will not or simply cannot check the authenticity of such blanket claims: indeed since no references are given one must read the entire body of literature (sometimes several volumes) to check them! The edition of the scrolls which I am using for all of the citations here is The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition by Florentino G. Martinez and Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar. This edition offers a catalogue of all the scrolls which contain copies of Biblical books, listing the full contents, and also a Hebrew (or Aramaic or Greek) transcription and English translation of all the scrolls which are not merely copies of the Biblical books. So in two volumes all of the targums, apocryphae, sectarian documents and other literature of Qumran are fully reproduced. Yet where there are supplied the common identifiers of the scrolls which are being referenced (i.e. 4Q285), one should be able to check any citations for himself in any of the comprehensive scholarly editions of the scrolls, to see the text in its original context. This should always be the case in any scholarly endeavor, and people should never settle for less when countenanced with claims concerning any document, Biblical or otherwise.
While there are indeed some gems in the Dead Sea Scrolls, I do not believe there are any truly important contributions to our understanding of Christianity which lend value to what we already have in other works. Their real value is, I believe, in the apocryphal literature which they contain, that we may use it in accordance with that which we already have as an additional witness to its antiquity and to the readings of the texts, since much of the apocryphal literature which we have is of poor provenance and transmission.