I'm going to start a new category here for "General Interest" which will be for things I see or read about that I think are interesting or informative about the Bible, Christianity or the Faith in general; but which aren't necessarily topics I could, or would need to, write a full blog post about.
I'll kick off this new venture with an brief look at something I read the other day from the Dead Sea scrolls which is very interesting – Qumran text 4Q521. It gives us a glimpse of early Jewish expectations of the coming Messiah from the time before Jesus arrived, and shows just how Jesus did actually meet those expectations.
For example, when John asks his disciples to enquire of Jesus if he is the Messiah, Jesus's response is pretty much a direct quote of this Qumran text.
Read this from Matthew 11:2-6 and then compare with the quotes from the Qumran scroll below:
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Here's an excerpt from the article I read, with some quotes from the scroll:
We now have an unambiguous statement that “raising the dead” was one of the key expectations of the Messianic age in this community.
Line 11 of this text also contains another highly striking feature. Indeed, it appears to be the closest and most direct linguistic parallel to a New Testament text that we have yet discovered. The line reads:
For he will heal the wounded, resurrect the dead,
and proclaim glad tiding to the poor.
In both Matthew and Luke we read of a deputation that John the Baptist sends to Jesus while John is imprisoned. John’s disciples ask Jesus, “Are you the coming one, or do we look for another?” The story is thus tightly framed around the question of messianic identity: what will the signs of the true Messiah be? Jesus answers:
Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the glad tiding preached to them (Luke 7:22-23 and Matthew 11:4-5).
This reply is cast in the style of a precise formula. It reflects a very early Christian expectation of the signs of the messianic age and the marks for identification of the Messiah. One indication that we have here a very early Christian tradition is that these passages from Luke and Matthew come from the source scholars have designated as Q, from the German word Quelle, meaning “source.” According to most N.T. scholars, Q was a collection of the “Sayings of Jesus,” somewhat like the Gospel of Thomas in genre, which was compiled in the middle of the first century, but before our finished Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written.