The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered more than half a century ago, have proved to be the most important modern discovery related to biblical literature, Judaism of late antiquity, and nascent Christianity. The scrolls have made an important contribution to our understanding of the development of the text and canon of Scripture, including such issues as textual preservation and transmission. They have also contributed to our knowledge of doctrine, especially pertaining to law and eschatological expectations.
In this volume, six leading scholars—John Collins, Craig Evans, Martin Abegg, R. Glenn Wooden, Barry Smith, and Jonathan Wilson—examine some of the major issues that the Dead Sea Scrolls have raised for the study of early Christianity. Were first-century Jews expecting a messiah? Were other messiahs mentioned in the scrolls? Were key early Christian symbols also found in the Judaism of Qumran? Did the Jews of Jesus’ day believe in salvation by works? In the Holy Spirit? How did the New Testament authors think about inspired interpretation? These cutting-edge articles explore the impact of the Scrolls on Christianity, delving deeper than most surveys on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
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To what extent have the Dead Sea Scrolls revolutionized scholars' comprehension of Christian origins? Authors have befogged a view of answers because they have rushed to print, and most of their conclusions are premature and absurd. Contributing to this volume, however, are scholars who can be trusted. Some of their insights reveal a paradigm shift in the understanding of early Judaism and early Christianity. These essays, often by luminaries in the field, are valuable and often exciting. Highly recommended.
—J. H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, and editor and director of the Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project
Out of the massive range of topics available from the Qumran and New Testament supermarkets, a very tasty six-course menu has been well chosen, ingredients finely blended, spices added at appropriate points, and all served up with Acadian quality, the whole very satisfactorily rounded off by a John Collins special liqueur—very appetizing indeed.
—James D. G. Dunn, Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham
Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls offers to the reader an unusual variety of essays. Some correlate texts in a historical manner, while others consider questions of a more theological nature. The result is an interesting, diverse, and profitable contribution to the study of both the Qumran scrolls and the New Testament.
—James C. VanderKam, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
These stimulating essays will bring many readers up to date on several key issues where the Dead Sea Scrolls are important for a better understanding of the New Testament. What emerges clearly in these studies is that the communities behind the Scrolls and the New Testament writings appealed to a wide range of scriptural motifs that are the primary basis for their own self-understandings. It is the varied use of these motifs, not any kind of literary dependence that most obviously explains both the similarities and the differences between these communities. Sensible and detailed, clear and accessible, this is a worthwhile contribution to a better appreciation of one dimension of the Jewish context of Christian origins.
—George J. Brooke, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester
John J. Collins is Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. He is also author of the commentary on Daniel in Hermeneia.
Dr. Craig A. Evans received his PhD in New Testament from Claremont Graduate University and his DHabil from the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University in Budapest. He is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
Evans taught at Trinity Western University in British Columbia for 21 years, where he directed the graduate program in biblical studies and founded the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute. He has recently served on the advisory board for the Gospel of Judas for National Geographic Society and has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs.
Evans has written and edited extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. His published works include From Prophecy to Testament, Jesus and the Ossuaries, Jesus: The Final Days, and Dictionary of New Testament Background.
“The items in this second description are variously called identity or boundary markers in the discussion of ‘the new perspective on Paul.’ It is my thesis that 4QMMT calls these markers ‘works of the law.’” (Page 66)
“‘The place of obedience [to the law] in the overall scheme is always the same: it is the consequence of being in the covenant and the requirement for remaining in the covenant.’7 Nothing in the scrolls bolsters the Protestant teaching that Jews of antiquity would have considered themselves ‘saved’ or, in other words, entering into a relationship with God on the basis of doing works of the law.” (Page 66)
“wilderness wanderings of the people of Israel became the template” (Page 47)
“the term ‘spirit of holiness’ denotes an eschatological principle of obedience” (Page 97)
“4QMMT, which stands for miqṣat maʿae ha-torah (‘some of the works of the law’)” (Page 64)