Friday, November 13, 2009

New Testament Intersections 8: Final DSS

Previous posts in this series include:

Most Apocrypha and Alexandrian Literature
Enochic Literature and 4QMMT
Covenant of Damascus
Community Rule
Qumran Hymns
Pesher Commentaries
Songs of Sabbath, 4QTest, 4QFlor, Son of God frag, etc...

And now the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls I am covering.

General Elements
1. Generally known for equating Melchizedek with Michael the archangel, although nothing in the text actually says this. It does seem to make a distinction between the messiah and Melchizedek, otherwise we might suppose that "mlchzdk" should be interpreted as "king of righteousness" in relation to the messiah.

2. Melchizedek is called ELOHIM and EL, "god," which is the basis for seeing him as an archangel here. He brings judgment on Belial and other spirits (=angels) who rebelled, which supports the angelic theory.

3. Atonement seems associated in some way with Melchizedek, which again supports an association with Genesis 15. At the same time, we should remember that more than one scroll sees the messiah as a priest-messiah.

New Testament Intersections
1. Paul seems to understand Christ to lead the (good) angels in judgment of the world and (fallen) angels (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:16), which fits with the role of Melchizedek.

2. A couple NT texts are used here. Isaiah 61, used of Jesus in Luke 4, is used of Melchizedek. The programmatic verse of Jesus ministry, Isaiah 52:7 "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the gospel, our God reigns [kingdom of God]" is evoked in relation to the messiah and Melchizedek, assuming the two are different.

3. There has been much speculation about a possible connection between 11QMelch and Hebrews 7. It may very well be that such Melchizedek traditions stand somewhere broadly in the background of Hebrews argument. However, Hebrews 7 does not equate Jesus with Melchizedek and virtually all of its argument can be explained as a "what is not in the Torah does not exist" argument (non in thora non in mundo).

The Book of War (4Q285)
I only mention this set of fragments because some have claimed that it foretells a murdered messiah. This, however, does not seem to be the case and is based upon extensively hypothetical reconstructions.

Messianic Rule (1QSa)
1. Gives the community's picture of the messianic community in the age to come. Pictures a single priest-messiah (2).

2. the assembly, again (2)

3. again, importance of purity "because the angels of holiness are with their congregation" (2)... remember Fitzmeyer's interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 again (that I don't agree with)

War Scroll (1QM)
This is an extensive picture of the final eschatological battle. The matter of formation and weaponry bespeaks the Romans as the Kittim and chief enemy.

New Testament Intersections
1. Belial again (1...)

2. sons of light again (1), sons of darkness (3)

3. assembly again (2...)

4. mysteries again (3, 14)

5. sinful flesh* (4) Most of the references to flesh elsewhere have had more to do with weakness than sinfulness

6. righteousness of God again (4)

7. right hand of God (cf. Ps. 110:1; 4)

8. elect of God again (4, 12)

9. twelve tribes of Israel (5), reminder that Jesus chose 12 disciples

10. wrath of God (6)

11. importance of perfection of body, no nakedness, because angels with them in battle (cf. Fitzmeyer on 1 Cor. 11)

12. ranks of angels like 1 Enoch (9)

13. God's lovingkindness not in accordance with our works (11).

14. the messiah, with reference to Numbers 24 (11)

15. the sanctified (11)

16. Belial created for the Pit (13), sounds like predestination, sounds like "created for the Devil and his angels" in Matthew, eternal blaze for sinners (14)

17. poor in spirit (14)

18. In general, the final battle of the War Scroll reminds us of the final battle pictured in the final chapters of Revelation, including the fact that the final opponent is Rome or pictured in terms of Rome.

Copper Scroll (3Q15)
Of no real relevance to the New Testament but very interesting. Post-dates Qumran (ca. AD100), claims to tell where a mess of gold, silver, and massive wealth in general is stashed around Jerusalem. Some think it's all made up. Some think the wealth of the Essenes or of the temple. But no one has found any of it!

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