The Dead Sea Scrolls and The Gospel Of John

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The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been hailed by people of many religious and cultural backgrounds as the greatest discovery of manuscripts to be made available to modern scholars in our time and has dramatically altered our understanding of the origins of Christianity. Perhaps the most fundamental reexamination brought about by the Scrolls is that of the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel originally accepted as a product of second century Hellenistic composition is now widely accepted as a later first century Jewish writing that may even contain some of the oldest traditions of the Gospels . The discovery of the scrolls has led to the discussion of undeniable and distinct parallels between the ideas of the society at Qumran and those present in the Gospel of John. The study of the Gospel of John can be viewed as distinct and separate from the study of any of the previous three synoptic gospels. The Fourth Gospel contains language and conceptions so distinct from the synoptics that scholars are often faced with the question of its historical origins. Originally, scholars believed the main source for the Gospel of John to be Jewish wisdom literature, Philo, the Hermetic books and the Mandaean writings, leading to the idea that John was the most Greek of the Gospels. However, with the discovery of the scrolls, scholars were now faced with source materials, remarkably similar to the concepts and language found in John, illuminating the literature as not only Jewish but Palestinian in origin. The discovery of the manuscripts opened up an entirely new interpretation of the gospel of John and a progressive understanding of its proper place within biblical scripture. The implications for not only the gospel but als... ... middle of paper ... and the damnation of the Children of Darkness. Much like the eschatological traits found in John, this message is one of hope and perseverance. Where John emphasizes the role of hope for the near future in which salvation was within reach, the War Scroll focuses on perseverance in the hope for the dawning of the battle between the Sons of Light and Sons of Darkness culminating in the abolition of evil and dualism. These thematic parallels are of significant value to the understanding of the influence of the community at Qumran on the author of the Fourth Gospel; so impressive are these parallels that they can not simply be attributed to the concept of a common Jewish milieu of late Second Temple Judaism. In eschatological terms, the corresponding ideals of the two communities are suggestive of a Johannine author who was influenced by the society at Qumran.

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