From time to time sensational claims that the Teacher of Righteousness of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran anticipated the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus have received much notice in the press. Some of the men who make these claims are not only competent but distinguished scholars in their field. Yet most of their colleagues, equally competent and distinguished, would take issue with the forced interpretations necessary to buttress such claims. Their more sober views do not, of course, receive publicity. It might therefore be profitable to consider critically the evidence for the allegation that “the Galilean Master, as He is presented to us in the writings of the New Testament, appears in many respects as an astonishing reincarnation of the Teacher of Righteousness” (A. Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea Scrolls [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1952], p. 99).

The Allegations

The first scrolls were discovered in 1947 in the area known as Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Subsequent discoveries have yielded thousands of fragments, which include manuscripts of all the Old Testament books except Esther. The monastic community at Qumran is identified by most scholars with the Essenes, a strict, Jewish sect known from the writings of Josephus and of Philo. Some of the sectarian writings—the Damascus Document, the Habakkuk Commentary, and the Commentary on Psalm 37—refer to an anonymous Teacher of Righteousness.

On May 26, 1950, Professor André Dupont-Sommer of the Sorbonne provoked a controversy in Europe by a lecture in which he claimed that the Teacher of Righteousness had probably been crucified, had been raised from the dead, and had appeared in judgment against the city of Jerusalem at the time of the Roman general Pompey’s ...

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