The War of the Scrolls, Part 3

Fifty years after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, evangelical scholars are using them to demonstrate the reliability of the Scriptures.
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Part three of three parts; click here to read part two

Document in hand, Evans moves in for the rhetorical kill: "Here we have a text written in Aramaic from first-century B.C. Jewish Palestine that envisions the coming of a figure, probably a messianic figure, in terms of being called the Son of God and Son of the Most High. Bultmann and other critics said that the Son of God language that shows up in the Gospels was evidence of further reflections outside of Palestine in the Greco-Roman world. It's not Jewish—it's reflecting the worship of the Roman emperors as gods and sons of gods. Christianity must have adopted that terminology and now applies it to Jesus, but it really doesn't come from Jewish soil. Well, when you have a first-century B.C. Jewish text that uses the same language, what does that mean? And it happens to be in Aramaic, which we think was the language of Jesus and his followers."

He cites another example—a phrase from 4Q521, one of the nonbiblical scrolls scholars could not access until the fall of 1991. On a first reading, the phrase seems but a familiar quotation from Isaiah 61, the same Isaiah passage Jesus alludes to when John the Baptist sends a message from prison asking if Jesus is the one who is to come. Jesus replies that the blind see, the lame walk, the poor have good news preached to them, and "the dead are raised."

This last phrase—which Jesus speaks but which significantly does not appear in Isaiah 61—appears in 4Q521, written in Hebrew around 30 B.C. More important, the Qumran phrase is used in the context of explaining the wonders the Messiah will do when he appears—when "heaven and earth will obey his Messiah."

For Evans, 4Q521 demonstrates that Jesus' answer ...

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