University of Tubingen
Qumran and the New Testament have attracted the interest of scholars and the public from the very beginning. Immediately after parts from the discoveries of Cave 1 become known, scholars in Europe and the USA were attracted by the relationship of these texts with the New Testament. In 1950 e.g. Andr? Dupont-Sommer portrayed Jesus as "une ?tonnante r?incarnation du Maitre de justice", and the Righteous Teacher as a "Messie de Dieu, le Messie r?dempteur du monde" (121). More careful were Willliam H. Brownlee in his "A Comparison of the Covenanters of the Dead Sea Scrolls with Pre-Christian Jewish Sects" or Karl Georg Kuhn in "Die in Pal?stina gefundenen hebr?ischen Texte und das Neue Testament" or "?ber den urspr?nglichen Sinn des Abendmahls und sein Verh?ltnis zu den Gemeinschaftsmahlen der Sektenschrift [1QS]" - these all were published in 1950.
In the following decades scholarship centred upon the relationship and eventual dependence of New Testament figures, institutions and theological concepts from the Dead Sea Scrolls in general and the Qumran-Essene Community in particular. I only remind of the some important subjects:
Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness
John the Baptist and the Essenes
Early Christian Church and the Qumran-Essene Community
The communal meals of Qumran and the Lord's Supper
Dualism and Predestination in the Dead Sea Scrolls and John's Gospel
Justification by faith in the Hodayot and in Paul
Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament Christology
Besides these more general topics, special renderings and expressions found attention as the bne rezono and anthropoi eudokias (1QH XII 34 [Suk IV 33] and Luk 2:14), ma´ase ha-tora and erga tou nomou (4QMMT and Rom 2:15. 3:20 etc) and the alleged Essene character of 2 Kor 6:14-16.
Representative for this early period of research are the two volumes of Herbert Braun's "Qumran und das Neue Testament" in which the Qumran-Essene literature was read as some sort of a preparatio evangelica. It does not come as a surprise that especially in Europe research in the Dead Sea Scrolls was a domaine of New Testament scholars. Their main interest was to find concepts and ideas common in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament and to show developments in terms of "Traditionsgeschichte" from the Qumran-Essene concepts to New Testament Theologoumena. Unintentionally, the historical hermeneutics of Ernest Renan exerted still their influence that Essenism was some sort of pre-Christianity and Christianity some sort of post-Essenism.
A fundamental shift in the perception of the Dead Sea Scrolls come with Larry Schiffman`s book "Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls" presenting a new paradigm already in ist first sentences: "This book aims to correct a fundamental misreading of the Dead Sea Scrolls. For some forty-five years, the scholars publishing and interpreting the scrolls have focused almost singlemindedly on the scrolls' significance for our understanding of early Christianity. This is the first book ever written to explain their significance in understanding the history of Judaism" (XIII). Historically and hermeneutically the present speaker agrees fully with Larry Schiffman: The Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish texts, the Qumran-Essene community is a Jewish group (I avoid the term "sect") and first of all the texts are to be read in their Jewish context and the community is to be understood no longer as an "Unknown Jewish Sect" .
But in my opinion we have to go one step further. As Early Christianity in the Land of Israel is in its beginnings nothing else than some sort of a Jewish group, we have not only to interrelate the New Testament and Early Christianity to other Jewish groups of the time - and there are more than the three or four we know from Josephus; - we have also to put the question whether and how the New Testament and Early Christianity contribute to our understanding of Early Judaism in general, the Qumran-Essene Community in particular. This is not to be misunderstood as another New Testament centred approach to Jewish texts and Judaism but as an integration of the New Testament and Early Christianity in its Jewish context. Or in other words: We read the New Testament as a Jewish text and as a source for our understanding of Judaism. To illustratrate this, I only would like to refer to a well known fact: The oldest information we get about the Pharisees comes from the New Testament and Josephus, as tendentious as they are. Perhaps in other and better instances the New Testament might help us to understand Early Judaism and here especially some texts and concepts in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I would like to develop this approach in analyzing the Demonology of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament.
I. Spirits and Demons in the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Qumran-Essene writings share with a broad stream of traditions in the Ancient World the notion that man is not master of his own person and free in his decisions, but subject to powers reigning him. Though these powers are active in his interior they are different from him, and this is part of his powerless state.
A systematic statement is found in the well-known treatise on the two spirits in 1 QS III, 13 - IV, 26. This paragraph was, for a long period thought to be the very portrayal of the Qumran-Essene demonology, but recent scholarship came to the conclusion that the "Treatise" goes back to pre-Essene tradition and has later on been incorporated into the Qumran-Essene manuscript of 1 QS. On the other hand it is evident that man's destiny and acts may also be determined by non-demonological factors, e.g. astronomical ones as in the horoscopes. In a certain way of course they are part of a demonological worldview. Determinism serves as another model to establish and describe the unfree existence of man as we find it e.g. in the concept of the heavenly tablets or books. In spite of this the prevailing illustration of man's unfree and dependent existence is demonology. This demonology is part of a cosmological dualism comprising space and time; dualism yet is consequently subjected to Jewish monotheism. Space encompasses the whole world, mankind, angels including the princes of the angels on the one hand, demons, evil angels and their princes (e.g. Belial) on the other; time ranges from primeval times to the present and the eschaton: In the eschaton God will destroy all negative powers (bad spirits, evil angels, demons, Belial Mastema) definitively. The present period however is the time of the reign of Belial, whom in his inscrutable mysteries God gives space and time for his reign.
1. Spirits and Demons in 11QPsApa (11 Q11)
11QPsa XXVII, 9-10 reports among "David's Compositions" four "songs for making music over the stricken". Already James A. Sanders refers to Ps 91 as the Psalm which is according to Rabbinic tradition the song to be sung over the stricken, and J.P.M. van der Ploeg connects them to 11QPsApa: "Je me demande si les compositions 'apocryphes' de notre rouleau ne seraient pas les chants mentionn?s dans le texte cit? de 11QPsa". The manuscript of 11QPsApa embodies at least three songs against the demons and is secluded by Ps 91 as a fourth. In opposition to J.P.M. van der Ploeg's identification Maurice Baillet recognizes in the "Cantiques du Sage" (4Q510 and 511) the collection for the stricken from 11QPsa. In my opinion the theory of J.P.M. van der Ploeg is more probable.
Spirits and demons ([hrw]úwt[ ]wh?edim) are closely connected in II,3; demons occur also in II,4 "These are [the de]mons", incantation terminology is present in I,7, III,4 and IV,1 (m?bi>). Presumably Salomo is the one who "shall invoke" (II,2), and "YHWH will strike you with a [grea]t b[low] to destroy you" (IV,4) , "and in his fury [he will send] against you a powerful angel" (ml
Most important is the incantation of the demon in V, 4-11:
(4) Of David. A[gainst An incant]ation in the name of YHW[H. Invoke at an]y time
(5) the heav[ens. When ]he comes to you in the nig[ht,] you shall [s]ay to him:
(6) 'Who are you, [oh offspring of] man and seed of the ho[ly one]s? Your face is a face of
(7) [delu]sion and your horns are horns of ill[us]ion, you are darkness and not light,
(8) [injust]ice and not justice.[ ] the chief of the army, YHWH [will bring] you [down]
(9) [to the] deepest [Sheo]l, [and he will shut the] two bronze [ga]tes th[rough which n]o
(10) light [penetrates,] and [the] sun [will] not [shine for you] tha[t rises]
(11) [upon the] just man to [
This third psalm (IV,4- V,3) of the collection precedes the quotation of the biblical Ps 91 with which it is closely connected:
1. The danger in the night V,4 see Ps 91:5.
2. Asking for the name (of the demon) (mi
3. The description of the demons futility and nothingness ("your face is a face of [delu]sion and your horns [i.e. your might] are horns of ill[us]ion, you are darkness and not light, [injust]ice and not justice" (V, 6-8), see Ps 91: 3-8,10,13.|
4. JHWH's army and its chief (sr) (V,8, compare IV,5 the "powerful angel"); the Lords host and his angel come for deliverance of man; see Ps 91:11-12.
Ps 91 (in the manuscript V,3-14) is in its content clearly connected with the preceding psalms. It concludes the collection of incantations with the assurance of God's deliverance and builds a sort of keystone. By relating Ps 91 to the preceding incantations Ps 91 itself serves the same purpose. This becomes most evident by the fact that it is liturgically integrated by "Amen, Amen, Sela" (VI,14; see VI,3 in the preceding psalm) into the collection and in the adscription to David (Ps 91 adscribed to David in LXX, in V,4 ldwid). But at the same time Ps 91: 2 seems like a correction : the most effective incantation is to turn to God himself: ["He that lives ]in the shelter[ of the Most High, in the shadow of] the Almighty [he stays. ] He who says [to YHWH: 'My refuge] and [my] fortress,[ my God] is the safety in which [I trust.']"
2. 11QPs a XIX, 1-18 ("Plea of Deliverance")
David Flusser has drawn the attention to the "Plea of Deliverance" as an apotropaic prayer. The lines 13-16 confirm this interpretation :
"Forgive my sin, O Lord,
and purify me from my iniquity.
Vouchsafe me a spirit of faith and knowledge,
And let me not be dishonoured in ruin.
Let not Satan rule over me,
Nor an unclean spirit;
Neither let pain nor the evil inclination
Take possession of my bones."
Here we find the opposites: rwú
'Let Satan and an impure spirit not rule over me
Neither let pain nor evil inclination claim power over my bones.'"
3. Spirit(s) in 1QGenesis Apocryphon
Crucial to our question is the passage in XX, 16-32: After the praise of Sarai's beauty by Hirqanos (lines 1-7) the Pharaoh takes Sarai by force from Abraham (lines 7-11); Abraham prays to God (lines 12-16): "That night, the God Most High sent him a chastising spirit (rwú mkdÁ), to afflict him and all the members of his household, an evil spirit (rwú b
The evil spirit here is clearly understood as a demon who inflicts plagues and punishment, rendering Pharaoh impotent for the time Sarai is in his control. Only by Abraham's prayer the plague is removed from him. A technical term for "demon" (e.g. Ád) does not occur, but a demon ("evil spirit") has evidently taken possession of the Pharaoh and his household. It is explicitly said that he is sent by God in order to hinder the Pharaoh to approach Sarai. God alone can - after Abraham's prayer - remove him.
4. An Incantation Formula in 4Q560
"4Q560 preserves an Aramaic apotropaic magic formula that mentions concerns common to other similar texts: childbirth, demons and the diseases associated with them, sleep or dreams and perhaps safety of possessions. The preserved portions of the formula adjure the offending spirits, apparently by name".
In the few preserved lines a whole panorama of ancient demonology is revealed before our eyes:
In line 1 of column I "Beel]zebub" may be read, he is adressed ("you"); line 2 speaks of an "evil visitant", a Á[d; line 3 seems to be an incantation: "…I adjure you all who en]ter into the body, the male Wasting-demon and the female Wasting-demon" , line 4 obviously continues the incantation: "…I adjure you by the name of YHWH, 'He who re]moves iniquity and transgression' , O Fever and Chills and Chest Pain"; line 5 finally refers to "the male Shrine-spirit and the female Shrine-spirit , breacher-demons (?) of."
In column II line 5 bears: "And I adjure you, O spirit (rwú), [that you …"
In this text not prayer but incantation serves to free man from spirits and demons who inflict suffering and pain upon him. Not God had send the evil spirit(s) and demons, but by calling the name of the God "[Who re]moves iniquity and transgression", illness , pain and sleeplessness(?) will be driven out.
These four texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls show a great variety of aspects concerning the activities of (evil) spirits and demons in man.They inflict suffering, lead to sin and threaten life in every respect. In the special case of the Pharaoh it is for the benefit of the pious ones. We have encountered two ways to get rid of the evil spirits or demons: prayer to God and incantation in the name of God (YHWH). In the collection 11QPsApa these two modes are combined: Incantation in the first three psalms, the prayer of confidence in Ps 91:2.
II Spirits and Demons in the New Testament
The world view we encounter in these texts is best illustrated by New Testament demonology. In the dualism as we find in the Gospel of John and the overcoming of the "Prince of this world" (Joh 12,31 "Now is the judgement of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out") in the ministry and presence of Jesus; in the Satanic power of Babylon-Rome in Revelation and the final destruction. And most vividly represented in the exorcisms of Jesus: "But it is by the finger of God that I drive out devils, then be sure the kingdom of God has already come upon you" (Luke 11:20). The Plea of Deliverance (11Q Ps a XIX, 13-16) is best illustrated by the Lord's Prayer "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil (= the evil one)" (Mt 6:13).
2. Jesus and the Demons
One of the undisputed activities in Jesus' ministry is the casting out of demons. This trait has since the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule been brought in relation to exorcism and magic in the Greco-Roman world as it is presented in the Papyri Graecae Magicae . Here as well as e.g. in Philostratos' Vita Apollonii we find close parallels to Jesus' exorcisms, both in the overall world view and in specific practices and formulas.
Another branch of scholarship has dealed with the revelance of Josephus' accounts of magical practices and Early Jewish miracle workers as Hanina ben Dosa and Honi ha-Meagel, highlighted by the seminal work of G. Vermes . Fully aware of a demonological conception in the Mediterranean world these authors stress the Jewish setting of Jesus' exorcistic activity.
The most important declaration of Jesus' self-understanding is to be found in Lk 11:20:
" When by the finger of God I drive out the demons, then be sure the Kingdom of God has come upon you". Most scholars support the authenticity of this saying, especially because it relates Jesus' exorcistic activity with the coming of the Kingdom of God, the center of Jesus' proclamation. Of special importance is the "I" in connection with God ("by the finger of God", which means: by the power of God) and the very presence of the Basileia which is not expected in some near or distant future, but which is present in Jesus' ministry. Thus this verse not only states Jesus' exorcistic activity, but also gives an interpretation: the presence of God's Kingdom is present in Jesus' expelling the demons.
What is the role of Demons in the New Testament world of Jesus?
They are called e.g. "unclean spirits" (Mk 1:23 and more often in Mk) or "evil spirits" (e.g. Lk 7:21), the demons have as their archon Satan, and who expels them must do this with his help and must himself be possessed by Beelezeboul (Mk 3:22). As "unclean" spirits they exclude those whom they reign from contact with the pious ones, as "evil" spirits they confer harm and calamity. And as such they cause illness, e.g. epilepsy (Mk 9: 14-27), deafness (Mk 9:24), blindness (Mt 12:22) and the more. Their causing illness is one of the strongest links connecting New Testament demonology with some of the texts presented just now. It belongs also to the Koine of ancient demonology as a whole.
The demons in New Testament have knowledge of Jesus (Mk 1:24) and of his divinity ("the Holy of God", Mk 1:24), that he is the "Son of God" (Mk 3:11), they even know that there is only one God, the Most High (Mk 5:7). As Thomas S?ding rightly states: "Die D?monen sind in den Evangelien nicht, wie sonst oft, H?retiker, sondern auf teuflische Weise orthodox" (525).
They also know how to behave against their adversary Jesus: They call him by name (e.g. Mk 1:24), just as for an exorcist it is most important to know the name of the demon(s), see Jesus asking Mk 5:9 "What is your name"?
It is surprising that the demons in New Testament are active during day-time, not especially in the night, which demonstrates their power. This vividly described in the sufferings they cause. Man is unable to free himself from the demons and thereby from the diseases they cause, only Jesus, the exorcist empowered by God is able to accomplish that. This brings people back to ordinary life from which they had been excluded and makes them to followers and messagers of Jesus (Mk 5:18.20).
To which place are they cast out? We get an ironic answer in the story of the demons in Gerasa where they are sent into pigs who drown in Lake Gennesaret: their destination is death. But a demon ("unclean spirit" Lk 11:24) which was expelled may also strive around and want to return: "When an unclean spirit comes out of a man it wanders over the deserts seeking a resting-place; and if it finds none, it says: 'I will go back to the home I left.' So it returns and finds the house swept clean, and tidy. Off it comes and collects seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they all come in and settle down; and in the end the man's plight is worse than before" (NEB). This demonstrates the permanent danger of the demons where Jesus is not present.
It goes without saying that others, too, are able to expel demons (Mk 9:38), but it is only Jesus in whose activity the Kingdom of God has come. This notion is deeply rooted in the dualistic world-view which opposes the realm of Satan as the archon ton daimonion (Mk 3:22 etc.) and the archon tou kosmou toutou (John 12:31) to the Kingdom of God. Of course this is the special "Christian" variant and solution of the dualistic cosmology, demonology and anthropology. But it shares and is part of a dualistic world-view common in Early Judaism.
The struggle between Jesus and Satan takes cosmological dimensions. It will end with the downfall of God's enemy, i.e. Satan: "I watched how Satan fell, like lightning, out of the sky" (Lk 10:18 NEB). This final downcast of God's enemy is being accomplished in Jesus' death in which he proves - paradoxically - victorious over Satan (see also John 12:31) and the evil powers. The expulsions of demons during his life-time foreshadow this final victory of Jesus as God's agent ("By the finger of God", Lk 11:20). Therefore legions (Mk 5:6) of demons have to cede and are being destroyed. It is some sort of an a-symmetric conflict and the showdown is at hand. Man is still threatened by the powers of evil, but not any more helplessly exposed. Jesus himself has broken into the house of the "strong man" (e.g. Satan), "has first tied the strong man up" (Mk 3: 27) and has removed those who before had been under the dominion of Satan, i.e. those possessed by demons.
The New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls share the notion that man is threatened by devastating powers which are not under his control. This situation is described by means of a dualistic world view comprising cosmology and anthropology and using demonology to explain and to solve this problem.
"Qumran and the New Testament" do not mean that we are dealing with two monolithic entities. Their relation can not be described in terms of a development from the one to the other. Qumran is not a preparatio evangelica. We are to realize that they share a common world-view which is deeply rooted in the Bible and post-Biblical developments in Early Judaism. From this fundament they formulate their respective solutions to the one and only decisive question: "Unde malum" (Augustinus).