News And Notes -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 08:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: News And Notes
Author: Anonymous


News And Notes

A Wounded Messiah In A Dead Sea Scroll Text: A Reassessment

In November 1991, the popular press carried a story that two scholars, Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise, made a startling discovery in the newly-released Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts. They claimed that a text labeled 4Q285 (manuscript number 285 from Qumran Cave 4) described the execution of a Messianic Prince, using such terms as “wounds” and “stripes.” Since then, a number of more sober assessments have been made by various scholars calling into question the interpretations of Eisenman and Wise (see our evaluation in ABR Newsletter, Mar-Apr 1992, p. 1). A review of the whole matter recently has been published by Martin Abegg, Jr., of Grace Theological Seminary.

Fragment 5 of Manuscript 285 from Qumran Cave 4, War Rule.

The text, written in the early first century BC, is fragmentary, surviving in 16 small pieces. Of these, number 5 is the most controversial since it is the one containing the statement about a “Prince of the Congregation” killing or being killed. To properly understand the context, all the fragments must be analyzed. That is what Abegg did.

It has now been determined that 4Q285 is to be associated with the famous War Scroll, which describes a final apocalyptic battle between the “Sons of Light” (members of the Qumran community) and the “Sons of Darkness” (the Romans and all other enemies of the Qumran community). Fragment 1 of 4Q285 Abegg understands as being related to blessings to be ushered in after the impending victory over the Kittim (Romans). Fragment 4 provides a glimpse into the end of the conflict, the enemy fleeing across land only to be accosted by the

forces of the Prince at sea. The enemy leader is then ushered into the presence of the Prince.

The beginning of fragment 5 is a quotation from Isaiah 10:34–11:1, followed by references to killing and strokes and wounds. Abegg believes that fragment 5 completes the scene of fragment 4, with the Prince killing the enemy leader (rather than being killed) and reigning in righteousness in fulfillment of Isaiah 11. Fragment 5 most likely reads:

  1. ]Isaiah the prophet: [The thickets of the forest] will be cut [down
  2. with an axe and Lebanon by a majestic one will f]all. And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [
  3. ]the Branch of David and they will enter into judgment with [
  4. by stroke]s and by wounds. And a Priest [of renown (?)] will command [the s]lai[n] of the Kitti[m]...
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