Monday, March 20, 2006

Jesus and Messianic Credentials of His Day

One of the most obvious parallels between Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the presentation of Jesus in Gospels is the common usage of Isaiah 61. 4Q521 describes what the Messiah will accomplish:

“[…For the he]avens and the earth shall listen to His Messiah [and all w]hich is in them shall not turn away from the commandments of the holy ones… He will honor the pious upon the th[ro]ne of his eternal Kingdom, release the captives,
open the eyes of the blind, lifting up those who are op[pressed]… And for [ev]er I shall hold fast [to] the [ho]peful and pious […] shall not be delayed […] and the Lord shall do glorious things which have not been done, just as He said. For He shall heal the critcally wounded, He shall raise the dead, He shall bring good news to the poor, He shall […], He shall lead the [ho]ly ones, and the hungry He shall enrich.”[1]
(The expression “healing the critically wounded,” appears to be a reference to resurrection from the dead.) This passage has obvious parallels with Matt 11:4-6 (cf. Luke 4:18-19):

“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you he who is to come or shall we look for another? And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them…”
Jesus appears to be describing the commonly accepted credentials of the Messiah. Interestingly, one of the few items not mentioned by Jesus in Matthew is the release of prisoners, something the imprisoned John would probably have been eager to hear.

[1] Cited from James VanderKam and Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2002), 333.

No comments: