Original Research - Special Collection: Qumran Texts

Putting Qumran, Jesus and his movement into relief

Eben Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3479 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3479 | © 2016 Eben Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 May 2016 | Published: 17 November 2016

About the author(s)

Eben Scheffler, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


After referring briefly to the fantasies regarding the origins of Christianity as elicited by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 (Dupont-Sommer, Allegro, Thiering), the purpose of the contribution is to put the Jesus movement into relief in the context of first-century Judaism. The identity of the Qumranites is argued to be Essene scribes. The identity, ideology and practices of the latter are compared with those of Jesus of Nazareth and the movement he elicited using the following rubrics: (1) Jesus, the teacher of righteousness and the powers that be; (2) asceticism versus itinerary charismaticism; (3) caring versus lack of caring for the sick, poor and marginalised; (4) elitist priests and scribes versus lower-class peasants; (5) the interpretation of the law; (6) religious and daily practices (baptism, ritual meal, sacrifice, prayer, community of possessions, scribal activity); (7) religious views or ideology (kingdom of God, the new covenant, light and darkness, politics). The result is a picture of Jesus (with his focus on human suffering) in sharp relief versus Qumran and facets of the early church.


Qumran; Dead Sea Scrolls; Jesus movement


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