The Scepter and the Star; The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature

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In The Scepter and the Star, John J. Collins turns to the Dead Sea Scrolls to shed new light on the origins, meaning, and relevance of messianic expectations. The first Christians were Jews who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah - the Christ; Christians could be called "followers of the messiah." Other Jews did not accept this claim, and so the Christians went their own way and grew into a separate religion. The disagreement about the identity of the messiah is the root difference between Judaism and...
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Overview

In The Scepter and the Star, John J. Collins turns to the Dead Sea Scrolls to shed new light on the origins, meaning, and relevance of messianic expectations. The first Christians were Jews who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah - the Christ; Christians could be called "followers of the messiah." Other Jews did not accept this claim, and so the Christians went their own way and grew into a separate religion. The disagreement about the identity of the messiah is the root difference between Judaism and Christianity. The recent disclosure of the full corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls now makes it possible to see this disagreement in a fuller context than ever before. The most stunning revelation of the new evidence is the diversity of messianic expectations in Judaism around the beginning of the common era. The Hebrew word "messiah" means "anointed one." According to the scrolls, the messiah could be a warrior king in the line of David, a priest, a prophet, or a teacher. He could be called "the Son of God." Jesus of Nazareth fitted the expectations some Jews of the time had of the messiah. The majority of Jews, however, had quite different expectations.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this fascinating survey, Collins traces the history and development of the idea of messiah from its earliest appearances in the Hebrew Bible to its culmination in the Judaism and Christianity of the first century c.e. Collins examines biblical and extrabiblical texts to explore the great variety of mantles, from eschatological prophet to Son of Man to Son of God, that messianic figures have worn. In his readings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Collins discovers, contrary to traditional readings, that the messiah of that community is identified more with a teacher of righteousness than with an apocalyptic prophet who will lead the forces of light in the final battle against the forces of darkness. In addition, the Judaic belief in both a priestly messiah and a kingly (Davidic) messiah in the first century c.e. militates, Collins believes, against any easy identification of Jesus solely as Davidic. Finally, the author argues that careful study of the Scrolls may yet yield the common ground out of which the messianic ideas of Judaism and Christianity developed. Marked by judicious and accessible readings of primary texts, Collins's work is a significant contribution to Doubleday's outstanding biblical reference series. (Apr.)
Library Journal
With the flurry of publications about the Dead Sea Scrolls over the past few years, much has been made of the significance of the scrolls for the study of Judaism and early Christianity. Collins's book is one of the first to examine a major theological subject in light of the newly released Qumran materials. Drawing on the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), the apocrypha, the pseudepigrapha, and especially the Dead Sea Scrolls, Collins explores messianic expectations in Judaism during the century prior to the Christian era. He identifies four messianic paradigms-king, prophet, priest, and heavenly messiah or Son of Man-rather than a single, all-encompassing concept. In the final chapter, Collins draws attention to the ways Jesus was seen to fit these messianic paradigms as well as the ways he would seem to deviate from or further develop them. Recommended for all academic religious studies collections, as well as larger public libraries.-Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385474573
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Series: Anchor Bible Reference Library Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Illustration of Davidic Messiah
Map of Palestine: Location of Qumran Caves
Ch. 1 Messianism and the Scrolls 1
Ch. 2 The Fallen Booth of David: Messianism and the Hebrew Bible 20
Ch. 3 A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse 49
Ch. 4 The Messiahs of Aaron and Israel 74
Ch. 5 Teacher, Priest and Prophet 102
Ch. 6 A Throne in the Heavens 136
Ch. 7 The Messiah as the Son of God 154
Ch. 8 The Danielic Son of Man 173
Ch. 9 Messianic Dreams in Action 195
Bibliography 215
Chronological Table 242
Abbreviations 244
Index of Scriptural Citations 247
Index of Ancient Sources 252
Index of Authors 261
Index of Subjects 266
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