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Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls

Introduction

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the collection of more than 900 documents that represent both canonical and non-canonical books of prophecies of the Old Testament. They are explicitly shown within the rolled up scripts that were found near kibret, on the ruins of the Qumran in the period between 1947 and 1954. The documents were officially recognized by researchers as those that had both sectarian and non-sectarian origin. Particularly, it was almost 30% of the amount of documents in manuscripts that was measured as sectarian belonging to the Qumran community dating back to the 5th – 4th century BC.

This paper will be addressing the specific religious and social issues of the sect that expected the improvements in the community rule with the arrival of two messiahs. Particularly, it was the Rule of Congregation and Rule of Blessing to be found as the major part of the Qumran Community in terms of its functioning when gathering and leading social life around the temple. It was the Second Temple period that had impact on Qumran ritual bathing, living in caves, being buried in cemeteries, and reading sectarian literature to reach out the purity both in physical state and the way of thinking. The temple was considered a part of the habitation of the divine essence. The contradiction of the association between the Qumran group and Essenes goes into contradiction of relationships between these two religious groups. However, they were similar in rituals more than in interpretation of the scrolls as for the values of their communities.

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Qumran Community: Judaic Dual Messianism

Basing on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran sectarians believed in two messiahs who would presumably save them both on the state and secular level. In the collection of selected 981 different textual scrolls discovered in the middle of the 20th century in eleven caves at Khirbet Qumran ancient settlements beside the West Bank Qumran, the evidence of the needs and expectations upon messiahs were explicitly shown (VanderKam 10). The fact that two messiahs were expected was included in the earlier Christian doctrine of expectancy upon the saver from harmful occupation. The expectancy of the improved kingdom of Israel which would be in peace and prosperity was in designation in 30 fragments within the Cave 2, comprising the major factual evidences that are of much value for the biblical research of the manuscripts located in about 2 kilometers to the northwest Dead Sea shore (Down 160). The later study reveals that the expectancy of Judaic sectarians was related to the need of unification of their state and its functioning within the community’s set of values that can be considered dominant. It is the religion and spirituality that could be considered the measurement of law, order, and prosperous inclination of separation between religion and state laws. Two positions of new messiahs meant that the order of the community was inclined on distribution the values of righteousness and good will, as well as bringing political benefits at the national scale.

It was John Marco Allegro who made a valuable contribution into studying the major expects of the Dead Sea Scrolls in terms of linguistic interpretation and originated benefits of the suitability in comparison with the canonic scriptures of the Holy Bible. Allegro states, “It has been my practice to offer no more than the basic essentials of photographs, transliteration, translation of non-biblical passages where this might serve some useful interpretative purpose, and the minimum of textual notes” (qtd. in Brown 155). In this relation, the contribution was made relevantly within the discussion rules of alienation between the orthodox attitude to messianic acquisitions and the controversial values of the sectarian origin.

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Contemporary Interpretations

The discoveries in the Judean Desert beside the Dead Sea shores were published in the variety of digital and print sources in the period from 1955 to 2009. These are the preliminary editions, facsimile editions, and, in the context of Google digitization project (2010–2016), they are accessible for online learning and research (Kraus). Before, the Masoretic texts were the evidence that proved the importance of messianic values amongst Judaic sources. However, the sources were expended eventually by finding the Dead Sea Scrolls as the means of providing harmony to the relationships between original sources and their published interpretations. It was even that the advertisement in the Wall Street Journal (1 June 1954) explicated the announcement to put four of the Scrolls for sale. In comparison to the former Masoretic texts that could be the factual determination of the oldest samples of the Hebrew language, the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in different languages: Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, and Nabatean. Some of them were written on papyrus, and others – on bronze and parchment. This opened the vast filed to the religious interpretations on this matter that included the research analysis and the extra-biblical approach towards the sacral textual evidences.

Two Messiahs and the Temple

It can be good evidence as for the interpretation of the sacral texts that the Qumran sectarian community was on the edge of radical beliefs and their evaluation on in-depth principles of the social order was perceived as a part of divine order sent by God from far above. They expected two Messiahs who “would right all wrongs and introduce the final age of human history” (Hurst 157). This point of view, however, was transformed into the new original Christian values that suggested the need for the spiritual and political revolution. The fact is that “the early Christians were working when they made their revolutionary claims for Jesus of Nazareth” who inspiringly fulfilled his mission of “the twofold ancient expectation of the Messiah—king and priest.” In this relation, Hurst suggests the theoretical thesis that “the Qumran community had a dual expectation of “Messiah of Aaron” and “Messiah of Israel” (Hurst 158). The Israel community indeed experienced the need in political, spiritual, and cultural national leader who would be able to fulfill the major expectation of their needs and demands for authorities and implementation of the cultural values of the well-defined origins. The “analogy of these two eschatological figures to “light” and “truth” is striking” (Hurst 161), for it was not clear up to the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls that messiahs could be of more authority for Israelites than it could ever be expected. In this relation, the sacral meaning of the Scrolls was used in configuration of the new temple ideas. It is a well-known fact that Israelites dream of building the new temple in relevance to their historical and cultural significance in both national and cultural perspective. However, their attempts cannot always be justified for the needs and practical beliefs of the defined nature.

The trust is that the cultural significance of the Israel temple is that it can perform the function of initiation towards the first religious perspectives and the determination of the values that are of spiritual origin. Practically, the idea of “whiteness” and purity is one of the most common ideas of the new Israel temple. The representatives of the Judaic set of values are the people who are in need to find the expressive means that can be relevant to their nominal and comparative values, which will distinguish them from the other religions.

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Reflection

Deep analysis of the discussed issues can be of much importance for the relative determination of the values placed between regular and extra-regular order of the sets of priorities. Ultimately, this can be very significant for the research analysis. When making an assessment from the contemporary point of view, it is possible to differentiate between biblical and non-biblical evidences. In this relation, the Dead Sea Scrolls can be studied both from religious and historical point of view. They are all placed into benefits of close determination and evaluation of arguments for the eschatological matters. In terms of the Final Judgment, when people would be justified by the holy messenger of God to earth, the sins of all people would turn clear in the final curtain call and come out for justification and reasoning of their actions. The sectarian expectations on messiahs, however, are slightly different, for they do not coincide with the valuable experiences of coexistence with the lack of humanistic values and matters of righteousness and care about the quality of life that comes in the exemplary purification and segregation towards close people and enemies. This point of view appeared to stay in conflict with polytheistic religions of the Ancient Rome.

This caused the war of conflicts and became a matter of suppression of Judaic religion followers for their praising the one almighty God in His power. For better, by now this religion is of the exemplary value on traditions of the orthodox secular environment. It is a good sign that Christianity in modern aspect has reinterpreted the old messianic values into one historical and divine personality of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, both Catholic and Protestant confessions, as well as Orthodox Christians, consider Jesus to be the leader, messiah, and even a part of the Trinitarian divine essence. The new textual evidence from the Qumran caves is helpful for a better understanding of the valuable matters that are of spiritual uniformity and conformity as for canonic and non-canonic biblical texts. Although some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are assessed as apocryphal, they are all in the conjunction of spiritual dedication, restoration of historic interests, and revival of the religious community aspects.

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Conclusion

The Dead Sea Scrolls appeared to be the major textual and artificial evidence on the sectarian expectation for two Messiahs who could save the Israel people from harm within the origins of righteousness, obtaining the divine knowledge of ruling the political situation and improving the secular perspectives of the land. In this relation, it turns clear that the uniqueness of the Dead Sea Scrolls has helped the researchers to justify the values of different origins, both political and secular. It is helpful to provide a huge number of independent researchers with over 900 cave based manuscripts that tell prophecies about two messiahs who would come to save the Israel nation from the harm of occupation and other unpleasant consequences. This information can be of much use for those who are in need for inspiration from the ancient texts of the Qumran region.

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The ancient sectarians, however, tended to believe that the religious community should be united for the better coexistence of people who lived in this land in hope for the saviors, prophets, and righteous people in both political and secular perspective. The justification between the political figures will be of a great use for linguistic and extra-biblical research analysis.

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