Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

The Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q521) and the New Testament II

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Jesus as the Messiah – Luke 4:16-21 

I continue with some useful insights from Dr. Peter Flint about the DSS and the New Testament.  It is well known that Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61) when he went to the Synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day (see Luke 4:16 to 21).  He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2: 

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,  

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim goodnews to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering ofsight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  to proclaim the year ofthe Lord’s favor.”  

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.   And he began to say to them,  

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  

To most Christians it is obvious that Jesus is claiming to be the MESSIAH in this passage.  Unfortunately, many scholars are/were not convinced because the word Messiah does not appear in this passage. 

Fortunately, we do have a missing link coming from Qumran (4Q521 – for complete text see this: http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/jdtabor/4q521.html).  Its title is the Messianic Apocalypse  and it was found in Cave 4 (pictured above).  It was not a Christian composition because it dates to the first century B.C.   The text follows:

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[The hea]vens and the earth will obey His Messiah [… and all that]at is in them. He will not turn aside from the commandments of the holy ones. Take strength in His service (you) who seek the Lord. Will you not find the Lord in this, all you who wait patiently in your hearts? For the Lord will visit the pious ones, and the righteous ones He will call by name. Over the meek His Spirit will hover, and the faithful He will restore by His power. He will glorify the pious ones on the throne of the eternal kingdom. He will release the captives, make the blind see, raise up the downtrodden

It is clear that there were Jews in Jesus’ day who understood Isaiah 61:1-2 as a Messianic prophecy.  The common terms from the Messianic Apocalypse and Luke 4 (and Isaiah 61) “are far more than coincidental.”  Flint rightly concludes:“With the term “messiah” preserved in line 1, it is now clear in the light of the Messianic Apocalypse that Jesus was claiming to be a prophetic Messiah in Luke 4:16-21.

2 responses

  1. This is fscinating. I had recently heard of this scroll and found today a heavily edited translation of the portion in discussion, but to see a picture of it and to get the entire translation is fabulous. Thank you.

    December 16, 2007 at 9:55 pm

  2. evedyahu

    I am glad it helped. Howver- this is NOT a picture of that particular scroll.
    The translation, however, is the correct one (see the link in the text above).
    Blessings, Chris

    December 17, 2007 at 2:07 am

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