Over the years, news items have circulated about how “hints” and “insights” contained in the original texts among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in caves near the ancient site of Qumran can be found in the Bible. In other words, certain ideas in the scrolls also appear in the New Testament, meaning, of course, that the impression of Christianity as a “divine revelation” appearing whole cloth miraculously from the very finger of God is clearly erroneous.
Few scholars today claim that any of the Dead Sea Scrolls (“DSS”) date to the time after Christianity was allegedly founded by a “historical” Jesus in the first century of the common era. Indeed, it is agreed that most of the scrolls pre-date the turn of the era and that none of them show any knowledge of Jesus Christ or Christianity.
“They speak of a Teacher of Righteousness and a pierced messiah, of cleansing through water and a battle of light against darkness.
“But anyone looking to the Dead Sea Scrolls in search of proof, say, that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah presaged by the prophets, or that John the Baptist lived among the scroll’s authors, will be disappointed.”
In my book The Christ Conspiracy, I demonstrate that Christianity is an amalgam of the many religions, sects, cults and brotherhood traditions of the Mediterranean and beyond. One of the major influences on Christianity is that of Jews, obviously, including those mentioned in the New Testament, i.e., the Pharisees and Sadducees. Ancient Jewish historian Josephus also mentions the sect of the Essenes, who are traditionally associated with Qumran, in a “by default” argument. However, scholar Solomon Schecter – who discovered a scroll at Cairo that was later found at Qumran – points to a heretical sect of Sadducees or Zadokites, as they are called in both the Bible and DSS. In The Christ Conspiracy, I discuss this Zadokite origin of the DSS and this group’s obvious influence on the New Testament.
What this rumination all means, of course, is that Christianity is, as I contend in my books, largely unoriginal, representing not fresh and new “divine revelation” but, again, the amalgamation of not only the ideas of the Zadokite authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls but also influences from the Essenes, Jews, Samaritans and many others.
To understand how the Dead Sea Scrolls influenced early Christianity, just turn to the New Testament.
Take, for example, the Great Isaiah Scroll, a facsimile of which is on display as part of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Written around 125 B.C. and the only scroll to emerge virtually intact from the caves at Qumran, its messianic message is quoted in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, John and Luke, the earliest of which wasn’t written until around A.D. 65.
The scrolls’ so-called “Son of God” text reads much like the story of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke. And the Scrolls’ “Blessing of the Wise” echoes the beatitudes of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount….
This early dating of the gospels, it should be noted, is based only on the a priori assumption that the story they relate is at least partially true in recounting a “historical” Jesus who truly walked the earth at the time he is claimed in the gospels themselves. There is no external evidence whatsoever for the existence of any canonical gospel at this early a date. In fact, the canonical gospels as we have them do not show up clearly in the historical record until the end of the second century.
Moreover, the Sermon on the Mount – supposedly the original monologue straight out of the mouth of the Son of God Himself – can be shown to be a series of Old Testament scriptures strung together, along with, apparently, such texts from Qumran. No “historical” founder was necessary at all to speak these words, as they are a rehash of extant sayings. (Even in this patent literary device the gospels cannot agree, as Luke 6:17-49 depicts the Sermon as having taken place on a plain.)
It is easy to see why the Catholic Church would blanche upon the discovery of these scrolls, as it could be – and has been – argued that these texts erode the very foundation of Christianity. It appears that this news, however, when released slowly has little affect on the mind-numbing programming that accompanies Christian faith.
The bottom line is that the existence of the Old Testament and the intertestamental literature such as the Dead Sea Scrolls shows how Christianity is a cut-and-paste job – a fact I also reveal in The Christ Conspiracy, in a chapter called “The Making of a Myth,” which contains a discussion of some of the texts obviously used in the creation of the new faith. These influential texts evidently included some of the original Dead Sea Scrolls, serving not as “prophecy,” “prefiguring” or “presaging” but as blueprints of pre-existing, older concepts cobbled together in the New Testament.