The relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for New Testament interpretation: with a bibliographical appendix

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Frey, J.
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Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State
English: The article demonstrates why the Dead Sea Scrolls are important for NT scholarship. After a sketch of the main periods of Qumran research, the author discusses four patterns of relating Qumran with the NT which he considers problematic. Neither was the Qumran community a prototype of Early Christianity, nor do Qumran texts reflect Early Christian history. The opinion that NT texts can be found in the fragments from Cave 7 is erroneous, and the view that an Essene Quarter in Jerusalem formed the nucleus of the Primitive Christian Community there cannot be established. Based on the fact that the Qumran library is not the literary production of a single “sect” but a broader collection of texts from different groups in Ancient Judaism, the relevance of the Qumran library is rather that it shows the pluriformity of Judaism at the turn of the era, and that numerous terms and ideas in the NT which were thought to be non-Jewish can now be explained from the variety of Jewish texts from the library. The interpretative value of Qumran is then demonstrated by two examples: John the Baptist can be interpreted more precisely in contrast with the purification rites and Scripture interpretation of Qumran, and some of the Pauline anthropological terms, especially the notion of sinful flesh, can be seen as influenced by Palestinian Jewish Wisdom traditions. As an appendix, the author presents a select and commented bibliography for the study of Qumran texts and their relation with the NT.
Qumran, Dead Sea Scrolls, John the Baptist, Pauline Theology: flesh, New Testament interpretation
Frey, J. (2003). The relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for New Testament interpretation: with a bibliographical appendix. Acta Theologica, 23(2), 86-116.