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Jesus, "the Holy Spirit", and the Dead Sea Scrolls
At 02:30 PM 6/25/96 -0400, Yuri Kuchinsky wrote(in part):
>The most difficult and perhaps impossible thing to figure out is the role
>and nature of _ritual_ in the earliest movement.
And I responded (in part):
>... Makes me wonder if Jesus DIDN'T do much water baptism. Could it be that
this Christian ritual is grounded in J the B? In this light, could Matthew
4:11 actually be a statement of existing early Christian practice, i.e.,
that John baptized with water, but that Jesus baptized (only?) with the Holy
Spirit? ... Suffice to say at the moment that Charlesworth makes an
interesting case that "Holy Spirit" in the NT may owe more to Qumran than to
the OT or Jewish psuedepigrapha. ... This could have fascinating
ramifications for the origins of Jesus the Healer.
That was yesterday. Now today:
OK: Several months(?) ago, I had an exchange with Bill Arnal about whether
or not the Dead Sea Scrolls were relevant to understanding the historical
Jesus. He thought not, and I didn't have too much to counter his skepticism
with. But now I have the book "Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The
controversy resolved," edited by James H. Charlesworth (Anchor Bible
Reference Library, Doubleday, 1992). This is a pretty mainstream
publication. For example, Charlesworth doesn't give much weight to Eisenman
or Thiering. Evidently these folks (contributors to the book) think there IS
some value regarding the historical Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Charlesworth notes (p. xxxv) that although Jesus' ministry was contemporary
with the Qumran community, "none of the Dead Sea Scrolls refer to him, and
they do not mention any follower of Jesus described in the New Testament."
Hence, any influence should be seen as going from Qumran to Jesus, rather
But now here's the interesting part. On pp. 20-22, Charlesworth writes that
"Jesus may have inherited from the Essenes their concept of 'the Holy
Spirit'." He notes that the technical term for the Holy Spirit does not
appear in the OT, and occurs only three times in the Jewish apocryphal
works. However, the term is abundant in the DSS. And he summarizes much
research on this point. For example, the Qumran Essenes developed the
concept of "the Holy Spirit" in the second century B.C.E. to substantiate
their claims agains the Temple priests, and their choice to live in the desert.
So we have the possibility that Jesus baptized in "the Holy Spirit" (Matthew
4:11), no evidence that he baptized with water, descriptions of his life and
work feature a key concept developed by the Qumran Essenes, and Steve Davies
in _Jesus the Healer_ makes a case for spirit-possession as a major feature
of Jesus' life (beginning with his baptism by John) and ministry.
This ought to imply some connection between Jesus and the Qumran community.
Can anyone help me to understand what to make of all this?
"This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method':
that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's
position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our
criticism to be worth while."
Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5