How Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Relate to Jesus?

How Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Relate to Jesus?

Timothy Paul Jones

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

"What do the Dead Sea Scrolls have to do with Jesus? Well, in some sense, the Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with Jesus because they were most of them, with a few possible exceptions, copied before Jesus was even doing His earthly ministry. They were copied before that time, so there's a sense in which they have nothing to do with Jesus.

Yet at the same time, they are valuable sources of information in a couple of different ways. We gotta understand who copied them. There was a group called the Essenes out at a place near Qumran and they copied these texts. About 1/3 of the texts are copies of simply the Jewish Scriptures. They're different copies of the Jewish Scriptures. These help us understand that the Jewish people truly were copying accurately the Old Testament.

There's a high degree of accuracy exemplified in these texts that are copied. About another third of them are commentaries on Old Testament texts, and then another third are rules and regulations for the Qumran community. That's this group of texts that were discovered in the 1940s. They've been hidden in caves probably around the time that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. They've been hidden there for all of these years. But they were copied, as far as we can tell, before the time of Jesus.

In some sense, they don't have anything to do with Jesus, and yet they tell us some important things. For example, they tell us about ritual washings that the Jews engaged in. That helps us understand something about baptism in the first century and how that emerges in the church and how God used something that was actually going on in their culture when He brings this message of John the Baptist to the people.

They also tell us about the expectations for the Messiah. You see in the Dead Sea Scrolls they tell about that they're expecting one or two or maybe three Messianic figures, not just one, but two or three Messianic figures. Well, that's important because they're expecting one of them to be a warrior king, they're expecting one of them to be a priest, and in some of their texts they're expecting a prophetic Messianic figure.

Well, what we see in that is the prophet, priest, and king offices and it's amazing as you look at that that people were expected a prophet, priest, and king, and God does that. But not through two or three separate Messiahs, but through one Messiah who goes into battle, who goes into war, not against the Romans as they are expecting, but He goes into battle, goes to war, and defeats sin and death and Satan.

The Dead Sea Scrolls do help us understand the world into which Jesus came."

Originally published October 12, 2012.