Professor William Hamblin on Messianic parallels
in the Book of Mormon and Dead Sea Scrolls
The recently published fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) contain some very interesting parallels to the BOM. (My references are to the edition by Robert Eisenmen and Michael Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, (Rockport MS: Element, 1992, hereafter E&W). Note that although this book is highly controversial (see AP report in Deseret News, Sun. 13 Dec. 1992, p. A24), it is E&W's interpretations and "ethics" which are in question, not their transcription of the scrolls.) I have verified E&W's translations from the Hebrew/Aramaic. The interesting thing to note here is how closely these ideas parallel Messianic ideas in the BOM, which have long been seen as grossly anachronistic. Many of the documents are in a fragmentary state and the complete meaning is not always clear (Throughout the following, fr. = fragment, col. = column, l. = line.)
1. 4Q521 "Messiah of Heaven and Earth" E&W pp. 19-23.
fr. 1, col. 2, l. 1 (E&W p. 23)
"... the heavens and the earth shall obey His Messiah"
fr. 1 col. 2, l. 8 (E&W p. 23)
"He will release the captives, make the blind see, raise up the ..."
fr. 1, col. 2, l. 12 (E&W p. 23)
"He will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings."
fr. 1, col. 2, l. 13 (E&W p. 23)
"He will lead the [Ho]ly Ones; He will shepherd [th]em."
[Ho]ly Ones = Aram. QDWSYM = gr. hagioi, usually translated as "saints" in the NT)
2. 4Q285, "The Messianic Leader" (E&W, pp. 24-29)
fr. 7, l. 2-5 (E&W p. 29)
(2) "A staff shall rise from the root of Jesse ... (3) ... a Branch of David. They will enter into Judgement with ... (4) and they will put to death the Leader [NSY' = nasi = prince] of the Community, the Bran[ch of David] ... (5) and with woundings, and the priest will command ...
This is thought by many to be a prophecy of the wounding and execution of the Messiah, although, naturally, this is disputed. For recent discussions, see Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), July/Aug 1992, and Nov./Dec. 1992, pp. 58-65.
4Q246, "The Son of God," (E&W, pp. 68-71
col. 1, l. 9- col. 2, l. 1 (E&W, p. 70)
"(9) He will be called [son of the Gr]eat [God]; by His Name [B- SMH] he will be designated. (1) He will be called the son of God [BRH DY EL]; they will call him son of the Most High."
Whatever all of this may mean, it is quite clear that the DSS community had their own set of prophecies concerning the Messiah which are remarkably close to NT interpretations, and also parallel BOM interpretations and prophecies of the Messiah.
William James Hamblin