The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls


"This is a very significant, original, and daring book. It illuminates an important era in the history of the Jewish people as well as the background of Christianity, making full use of the new Qumran material."--Professor Emanuel Tov, Editor-in-Chief, Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project

"The importance of this thesis for the understanding and interpretation of the historical Jesus is something of which all students of Christian Origins should take careful note. The book places a square challenge before those persuaded by a less apocalyptic/messianc view of the man and his times. I am convinced this book will become a pioneering classic in terms of the slot it fills in the field."--James D. Tabor, author of "Why Waco?

"This is a work of very high quality. . . . Knohl convincingly points out the historical event of a Messiah who predated the more famous one, Jesus Christ. . . . This is one of the most fascinating findings regarding the history of Jewish Messianism and the understanding of the emergence of Christianity. . . I am confident that it will mark a new phase in research of ancient Judaism."--Moshe Idel, author of "Messianic Mystics

"This tiny book will turn many heads. Israel Knohl sifts through a vast range of ancient texts in order to weave together a new chapter in the story of Jewish Messianism."--Gary A. Anderson, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Harvard University

"Israel Knohl established himself as a first-rate scholar with his first book, "The Sanctuary of Silence, on a classic problem of Pentateuchal studies. Here he ventures into entirely different territory and displays impressive erudition not only in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Talmud but also in classicalantiquity. His bold and provocative theories are sure to elicit a storm of controversy."--John J. Collins, author of "Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora and Jewish Wisdom in Helleniatic


We will start our search for the historical setting of the Qumranic Messiah with a discussion of two apocalyptic works. In my view, these apocalypses tell us about the violent death of the Messiah of Qumran. Our first task will be to date the events described in these works. In an apocalyptic work the author usually describes the events of his time as a prophecy of the future. This is why apocalyptic works should be interpreted against the background of the historical events of the time they were composed. As I argue in detail, the content of these works can be clearly understood in light of the political situation in the Roman Empire during the second half of the first century bce, just prior to Jesus' life and ministry.

In the year 44 bce Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of conspirators headed by Brutus and Cassius. After the murder, Caesar's will was examined. In his will Caesar had declared that he had adopted Octavian, the son of his niece Attia, as his son. This adopted son was now given the name of the murdered . . .

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