The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 11 caves between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.1  Based on the science of paleography, "...a few of the scrolls would date from the second century B.C.E., the vast majority from the first century B.C.E., and a smaller number from the first century C.E."  This dating also has been verified by carbon-14 analysis.  Some of the scrolls contain specific references to people who lived during this period, giving further evidence of the dating.  In addition, artifacts in and around the caves support this same dating.  Thus, several lines of evidence confirm the dating of these documents from a period of 200 B.C.-100 AD.2

It is generally agreed that the sect that possessed the biblical documents and who wrote many of the non-biblical documents are the Essenes.  However, there are other minority opinions.  The founder of the sect that possessed the Dead Sea Scrolls is called the "Teacher of Righteousness."  Wise, et. al., have been able to write a composite of the "Teacher of Righteousness" as follows:

The Teacher of Righteousness was a priest exceptionally gifted in religious insight; indeed, had been granted special revelations from God about the true meaning of Scripture and the proper interpretation of the Law of Moses.  Although he succeeded in gaining a following among other priests and righteous Jews, he was opposed by the Man of the Lie, who by his cunning rhetoric was able to dissuade many from submitting to the Teacher's precepts.  The Flattery-Seekers also opposed the ministry of the Teacher.  The Wicked Priest, however, initially seemed to be favorable to the Teacher; but "when he ruled in Israel" he showed himself to be irreligious, greedy, corrupt, and violent.  He harried the Teacher and his followers, drove them into exile, and on at least one occasion made an attempt to have the Teacher killed--apparently without success.  The Wicked Priest was threatened by Gentile powers and was captured and mistreated by them.  There is no certain indication that the Teacher died a violent death, although that is possible.3

There has arisen considerable controversy about the identity of the "Teacher of Righteousness."  Some say he as a person, and some say this was a title of an office held among the Essenes.  Some clam the "Teacher of Righteousness" was a messiah and was crucified, and say the Teacher must have been Jesus.  However, this latter claim is highly unlikely.  The reference to crucifixion is in A Commentary on Nahum, 4Q169.  Alexander Jannaeus ruled as King of Israel and high priest from 103-76 BC.  Jannaeus was severe with those he regarded as enemies, and executed 800 of them by crucifixion.  This is shown in fragment 3-4, Col. 14.  But there is no evident that the Teacher of Righteousness died by crucifixion.

To further show that there is no evident that the "Teacher of Righteousness" was Jesus, Kerry A. Shirts, summarizing Dupon-Sommer, lists the differences between the "Teacher of Righteousness" and Jesus as follows:

  • The Teacher of Righteousness was a priest, as son of Levi; Jesus was not a priest, but "son of David."
  • The Teacher of Righteousness was described as "Messiah of Aaron and Israel"; Jesus was called "the Messiah."
  • The Teacher of Righteousness probably lived generally in Judaea; Jesus was a Galilean and his preaching took place principally on the shores of the Lake of Tiberius.
  • The Teacher of Righteousness was a learned master, venerated to the point his followers would not pronounce his name; Jesus was a familiar teacher, whom his disciples and multitudes approached with complete freedom, whose name was neither secret nor mysterious.
  • The Teacher of Righteousness was an author; Jesus wrote nothing, but only spoke his sermons.
  • The most serious difference is that they were separated by a century.  The Teacher of Righteousness died in 65-63 B.C. under the Jewish Priest Aristobulus II; Jesus died 30 A.D. under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate.5

Now recall that Fields made this statement:

We now know that the Jesus myth of the New Testament was taken from the story of the founder of the Essene cult. The founder of the Essenes was named Jesus, he was crucified in 88 B.C.E. and everything good that Jesus of Nazareth is said to have said was written almost a hundred years before Jesus of Nazareth is said to have lived.6

There does not appear to be anything verifiable in this statement.  Fields appears to be gravely mistaken.

In order to be as thorough as possible to understand Fields' arguments and supporting references, I additionally explored all Dead Seas Scrolls that were cross-referenced by Wise, et. al., for passages in the New Testament.7  Some of these are remarkable and very interesting.  However, none of these cross referenced the passion of Christ, or specifically, his crucifixion.  The following table summarizes all of Wise, et. al., cross references for the gospels, showing in the last column the Dead Seas Scroll document:

Matthew 5:3-10 4Q525 2 ii
Matthew 6:33 4Q417 1 i 17-28
Matthew 7:27 4Q424 1 2-4
Matthew 11:2-5 4Q521 2+4 ii 4-14
Matthew 22:30-32 4Q521 7+5 ii
Mark 4:39-41 4Q541 7
Luke 1:32-33 4Q246 1:9-2:3
Luke 2:32, 34 4Q541 9 i 2-7
Luke 7:22 4Q521 2+4 ii 4-14
John 8:12 4Q541 24

Fields also made stated this about the Dead Seas Scrolls:

These old scrolls simply destroy the credibility of the historical foundations of Christianity by proving the New Testament evolved from the uninspired, historical, writings of man.6

This is an unfounded and incredible statement.  You see above what are the evidences, and these certainly do NOT suggest the conclusions that Fields has made.  The book by Wise, et. al, is likely available in your public library and you can certainly purchase it at www.amazon.com.  In addition, from the previous page I showed that the historicity of Jesus is beyond question.

I do hope to adequately show on this webpage that there was indeed a preceding document that foretold in amazing accuracy the entirety of the life of Jesus Christ.  That document is the Old Testament.  It is not the non-biblical document in the Dead Seas Scrolls.


ENDNOTES:
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea_scrolls
  2. Wise, M, Abegg, M, Cook, E.  The Dead Seas Scrolls: A New Translation.  Harper Collins Publishers, © 1996, pp 14-15.
  3. Wise, et. al., ibid, pp 16-17.
  4. Wise, et. al., ibid, pp 215-218.
  5. http://www2.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/deadsea.htm
  6. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/emmett_fields/word_of_god_debate.html
  7. Wise, et. al., ibid, p 512.