The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Sinouhe
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The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by Sinouhe »

  • 4Q491/4Q471 - The Self Glorification Hymn (see Table 1)
The author of this enigmatic and, among scholars, disputed hymn is unknown, and only fragments of it are extant. It was written in the late Hasmonaean or early Herodian period—that is, the second half of the first century BCE. In it, an unidentified hero boasts that he was elevated among and even above the angels in heaven.

Peter Schafer - Two Gods in Heaven (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Schäfer)
"Juxtaposed with the statement on glory in line 8 is the odd expression mi la-vuz nehshav bi, which was translated above as “Who has been despised on my account?” and literally might mean, “Who has been attributed to me, to be despised?”—that is, Who is despised and thus associated with me? The answer here too is probably, No one! The speaker is despised, and with respect to this particular contempt, no one is like him. This refers directly to the suffering servant of God in Isaiah, about whom it is also said that he is “despised” (nivzeh), a “man of suffering,” who “has borne our infir- mities” (Isa. 53:3–4).
The author thus models himself at the same time as the suffering servant of God in Isaiah 53, thereby presumably placing himself in the messianic interpretative tradition of the Suffering Servant Songs. This could be interpreted as a further reference to the historical Teacher of Righteousness.
I have argued in favor of “some kind of Teacher of Righteousness redivivus: the founder of the sect who was imagined by his later followers as elevated into heaven and expected to return at the end of time as the priestly Messiah in order to lead the members of the community in the final battle.
Whoever the hero of the Self- Glorification Hymn is, and whatever his function at the end of days, he is a human being who in a unique manner is exalted into heaven and enthroned there. We do not hear of anything comparable regarding any other human—with the exception of Enoch, who becomes the Son of Man in the Similitudes of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch.
Our hero is not just one angel among many angels, and it is not said that he will be transformed into an angel. Rather, he is and remains a human being who is elevated to the status of a god, and as such will return to earth".

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Sinouhe
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by Sinouhe »

  • 11Q13 - The Heavenly Prince Melchizedek (see Table 2)

A striking mid-first century BCE document, composed of eleven fragments from Cave 11 and centred on the mysterious figure of Melchizedek. He is the head of the ‘sons of Heaven’ or ‘gods of Justice’ and is referred to as elohim and el. Here Melchizedek is portrayed as presiding over the final Judgement and con­ demnation of his demonic counterpart, Belial/Satan, the Prince of Darkness, elsewhere also called Melkiresha. This manuscript sheds valuable light not only on the Melchizedek figure in the Epistle to the Hebrews vii, but also on the development of the messianic concept in the New Testament and early Christianity.

Joseph L Angel - Enoch, jesus, and priestly tradition (https://www.yu.edu/faculty/pages/angel-joseph)
"However, even if one is inclined to reject this reading in favor of the more common interpretation, the Son of man’s authority to remove sin from the earth finds its best analogue in priestly figures such as melchizedek of 11Q13, who has the power to relieve the sons of light from the “burden of all their iniquities” on the eschatological yom Kippur, the protagonist of 4Q541, or Enoch in 2 En. 64:5.
Again, it seems that pre-christian priestly tradition lies in the background of the gospel’s portrayal of jesus. While jesus’s non-levitical descent possibly constituted a reason for the avoidance of an overt portrayal as messianic high priest in the Synoptics, it should not be thought to preclude the possibility that he has “absorbed” eschatological priestly functions. One thinks immediately of the author of hebrews, who, noting jesus’s non-levitical roots, aligns his priesthood with that of melchizedek. There are, indeed, good indica- tions that the understanding of jesus as messianic high priest preceded and developed independently of hebrews.

Harold attridge observes that the two major roles of the celestial high priestly jesus, intercession and self-sacrifice, are widely attributed to jesus in early christian literature, including some passages in the Synoptics (e.g., matt 10:32; mark 10:45). He thus raises the possibility that the author of hebrews “was inspired by one or both of these priestly functions traditionally ascribed to christ, to apply the title high priest to jesus.

Further, some scholars would argue that an exalted high priestly self-consciousness can be traced back to jesus himself. They see evidence for this in the Synoptic tradition, when, after being asked by the acting high priest about his messianic status, jesus explicitly appeals to ps 110: “i am; and ‘you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven’” (mark 14:62; cf. 12:35 parr.). Within this context, jesus’s scriptural citation may be viewed as self-referential and is perhaps meant to clarify his belief that he (not caiaphas) is the true messianic priest and king of israel. Whether one accepts this interpretation of jesus’s words or not, when one approaches the Synoptic tradition with a more accurate view of the fluid appropriation of priestly symbolism within late Second temple pal- estine, it becomes possible to recognize how certain depictions of jesus in the gospels relate to early jewish traditions about the messianic or otherwise exalted priest".


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Sinouhe
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

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  • 4Q541 - The Testament of Levi (see Table 3)
An Aramaic work of which numerous fragments are extant in Cave 4 resembles the Testament of Levi from among the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The central figure is Levi, but the testament is probably that of his father, Jacob. Both 4Q537 and 541 allude to an eschatological priestly figure whose mission encounters opposition due to the wickedness of the men of his generation.


Joseph L Angel - Enoch, jesus, and priestly tradition (https://www.yu.edu/faculty/pages/angel-joseph)
"Several scholars have thus seen evidence in 4Q541 for the notion of a suffering messiah in pre-Christian Judaism.
One may conclude plausibly that the eschatological priest, like Isaiah’s servant (Isa 53:11), is indeed portrayed as bearing the sins of the people and making atonement through his person. If the tradition of the abuse and killing of the scapegoat in tannaitic tradition is to be related to the possible abuse and murder of the earthly protagonist in 4Q541, then this atonement could be the outcome of his suffering and death.

Despite the fact that Jesus was not of Levitical stock, Jewish traditions about the messianic priest-servant in some way lie beneath the understanding of Jesus’s identity and purpose in certain New Testament writings (specifically, he looks at Hebrews, John, Luke-Acts, and Mark). The parallels with 4Q541 are intriguing. Like the protagonist of that text, Jesus is said to execute an eschatological atoning function. While no literary dependence is evident and priestly identity is never overtly attrib-uted to Jesus, the constellation of the motifs of universal atonement, suffering, and rejection and the application of Isaiah’s servant imagery suggests that contemporary Jewish tradition about the messianic servant-priest indeed lies somewhere in the background of the gospel’s conception of the significance of Jesus’s suffering and death.


This text constitutes important evidence for the application of the image of the suffering servant to an individual ideal priest in pre-Christian Judaism".

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Sinouhe
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by Sinouhe »

  • 4Q521 - A Messianic Apocalypse (see Table 4)
The script is dated to the beginning of the first century bce. The poem incorporates Ps. cxlvi, 6-7 and Isa. lxi, 1, the latter cited also in the New Testament (Lk. iv, 18). As in the Gospels, healing and resurrection are linked to the idea of the King­ dom of God. Line 12 furnishes the most explicit evidence concerning the raising of the dead. Fragment 7, line 6, repeats the same idea, referring to God as ‘He who will raise the dead of His people’.

John J Collins - The Scepter and the Star (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Collins)
"The parallel between 4Q521 and the New Testament text is intriguing since both go beyond Isaiah 61 in referring to the raising of the dead. This can hardly be coincidental. It is quite possible that the author of the Say­ ings Source knew 4Q521; at the least he drew on a common tradition. 4Q521 was somewhat atypical of the sectarian literature in any case. The reference to resurrection is exceptional in the Scrolls. If we are correct that the "messiah" in this text is an eschatological prophet, that, too, is excep­tional".
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Sinouhe
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by Sinouhe »

Conclusion :

As we have just seen, during the first century before common era, we had a jewish sect awaiting their Messiah :
  • a celestial
  • and atoner
  • suffering servant
  • who will raises the dead
  • and heal the crippled, the lame and the blind.


And suddenly, few decades later pop up in Judea :
  • A Messiah
  • Suffering servant
  • atoner
  • celestial
  • who raises the dead
  • heal the crippled, the lame and the blind.


His name was Jesus.

And unfortunately, the first sect disappear from the map and a new sect pop up in the same time.
What a remarkable chain of coincidences isn’t it ? 😀
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin »

.
Nice overview :cheers:
John2
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by John2 »

To me the Dead Sea Scrolls seem largely Fourth Philosophic and as such they exhibit what Josephus calls the belief that "one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth." And various Fourth Philosophic kooks (like Jesus) "took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular." And I figure they all talked the same kind of talk ("Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many," as Jesus says in Mk. 13:6).
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by MrMacSon »

John2 wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 2:53 pm various Fourth Philosophic kooks (like Jesus) "took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular"
  • Which Jesus?
John2 wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 2:53 pm And I figure they all talked the same kind of talk ...
  • How do you figure that?
  • How do or would you know what they took, thought or talked?
John2
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by John2 »

MrMacSon wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 3:42 pm
John2 wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 2:53 pm various Fourth Philosophic kooks (like Jesus) "took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular"
  • Which Jesus?

"Jesus, who was called Christ," as Josephus puts it.

John2 wrote: Fri May 06, 2022 2:53 pm And I figure they all talked the same kind of talk ...
  • How do you figure that?
  • How do or would you know what they took, thought or talked?

By reading the DSS and what Josephus and the NT say about Fourth Philosophic Judaism (e.g., "Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He'").
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Re: The Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls - Two Suffering Servants in Judea ?

Post by John2 »

Who is Jesus in the NT? He believes that OT verses that say "one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth" were about him, and the Dead Sea Scrolls expound on the same kind of verses in the same kind of "I am He" way. And this line of thinking was the primary motivation for Fourth Philosophers. So to me Jesus walks and talks like a Fourth Philosopher, of the sort Josephus describes in War 2.13.4 as "such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration."

And Christians are likened with Fourth Philosophers in Acts 5:35-38.

“Men of Israel,” he said, “consider carefully what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and drew away people after him. He too perished, and all his followers were scattered.

So in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone. Let them go! For if their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail.
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