Interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls is unparalleled, and that interest often arises from their possible challenge to traditional Christian faith. Do the Dead Sea Scrolls hinder or undermine Christian faith? Why are the scrolls so significant for a better understanding of Christian origins? How and in what ways do these ancient Jewish scrolls alter or reshape Christian perceptions of Jesus and his earliest followers? What is the proper method for comparing these scrolls with the writings in the New Testament? How do the scrolls help us understand prophecy and messianic beliefs during the time Jesus taught in Galilee and Judea?
Four leading biblical and Dead Sea Scrolls scholars here consider these questions. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., discusses how to compare the scrolls and the New Testament; David Noel Freedman surveys the history of prophecy after the Maccabean revolt, as evidenced in the scrolls and in the life and teachings of Jesus and his followers; John J. Collins shares insights into Qumran messianism and the possible impact of the scrolls upon early Christian messianism; and James H. Charlesworth assesses how and in what ways the scrolls challenge and help shape Christian faith.
James H. Charlesworth is George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary and Director of the seminary's Dead Sea Scrolls Project.
Walter P. Weaver is former Chair of the Humanities Division and Department of Religion and Philosophy at Florida Southern College, Lakeland.