The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament

Excerpt

My doctoral work was a detailed study of 4Q174, a thematic eschatological commentary on various scriptural passages which are cited explicitly. I was much exercised over the character of early Jewish scriptural interpretation in that fragmentary manuscript. Ever since, my research has been concerned in one way or another with the texts, transmission and interpretation of Scripture in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Jewish literature contemporary in particular with the scrolls that have come from the Qumran caves on the north-west shore of the Dead Sea. The essays collected here are mostly concerned with how scriptural interpretation, commentary or exegesis as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls might illuminate similar matters of interpretation in the writings of the New Testament and vice versa.

The Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran caves, probably in their entirety, pre-date the writings of the New Testament. The 11 caves at and near Qumran have produced the remains of between 850 and 900 manuscripts. These manuscripts have been dated through a range of techniques to a period from the late third century B.C.E. to the middle of the first century C.E.; the majority of them come from the first century B.C.E., give or take a generation. The site at Qumran was occupied by a sectarian group, almost certainly to be associated with the Essenes in some form, between the first quarter of the first century B.C.E. (100–75 B.C.E.) and the destruction of the site by the Romans in 68 C.E. It is thus clear that the manuscripts that are earlier than the occupation of the site must have been penned elsewhere. It is also likely that many of those dated as contemporaneous with the occupation of the site were brought there from outside, since the manuscripts attest to more than one set of scribal practices. Intriguingly, those compositions which are clearly sectarian, describing the beliefs and practices of the group which lived at Qumran and the wider movement of which it was a part, are mostly . . .

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