The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Apocalypse of John
Loren L. Johns
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Methodology in Literary Comparison
Analysis of the book of Revelation in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls could take several paths methodologically. For instance, one might take a tradition-critical approach, in which one attempts to describe as carefully as possible the form, shape, and evolution of traditions through several eras and communities by way of the literatures and the cultural and religious artifacts they left behind.
Or one might approach the task more specifically in terms of the literature, analyzing the various ways in which different communities and literatures related to or used their Scriptures. In the case of the comparative study of Revelation and the Dead Sea Scrolls, such an approach has real possibility, since the communities reflected in both literatures accorded the Hebrew Scriptures significant authority for their own faith and life.
Still another approach would be to analyze the ways in which these literatures used symbols or constructed their symbolic worlds. Such an approach might focus on one or two of the individual symbols that are in common to the literature. This is a particularly useful approach to take when trying to understand the life and changing values of a given tradition or symbol. All communication, all language, is little more than a set of symbol systems. As such, the literatures represented here are themselves symbols that reflect a certain ordering of reality as envisioned by the authors. I am not referring here to the deep structures of language pursued by structuralists, but rather to the creation of symbolic universes realized in the process of applying ink to leather and apprehended by rhetorical criticism. At this level, a comparison of the symbolism in the Apocalypse with that in the Dead Sea Scrolls is nothing less than a comparison of the theologies, the world views, and the understandings of God and of life that characterize these two bodies of literature. This latter, broader focus is the more exciting and more fruitful endeavor for students of Early Judaism and students of Christian origins, even if it is the more difficult.
In this essay, I will reflect on the nature of the pursuit itself, identifying some challenges to and limitations of such a study, while defending its value. I will then survey briefly several attempts to understand Revelation in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Finally, I will look briefly at several specific symbols in an attempt to understand how the Scrolls can help us understand the New Testament Apocalypse.
Comparative analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Revelation entails several inherent problems. The first is the problem of unequal bodies of literature. The Apocalypse of John is one unified piece of literature written near the end of the first century ce. Its rhetorical situation is focused enough to identify—at least to conceptualize. In contrast, the Dead Sea Scrolls represent a library collection of biblical, parabiblical, and nonbiblical writings written over a period of 1000 years and copied over a period of 200 years. We will limit our inquiry to what has usually been called the “sectarian” literature, a term used almost universally, even if it is somewhat misleading and imprecise. But even if we begin with what most call “sectarian” at Qumran, we are still dealing with literatures written over a span of many decades, with differing theologies, communities or audiences, genres, and ways of using symbolism.
A second problem at the outset is what we mean by symbolism. If we focus narrowly on similar signifiers in the texts, we will discover at least a few specific symbols that appear in both the Apocalypse of John and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Or we might broaden the focus a bit to ask how these symbols function within the respective literatures: How and to what end are those symbols employed? Are there similarities in the respective roles these symbols play in the literatures? Or we might ask if there are patterns in which these symbols appear or in the ways in which they are employed. There is, for instance, a greater dependence on the symbolism of fauna in the Apocalypse and on flora in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Norman Perrin saw a clear similarity between the symbolism employed in the Apocalypse and that current in Jewish apocalyptic literature generally—especially when contrasted with the symbolism Jesus employed in his parables. Perrin painted the symbolism of “Jewish apocalyptic” in broad strokes as flat, referential “steno-symbols” that “bore a one-to-one relationship to that which is depicted.” In contrast, the symbolism in Jesus’ parables—especially that of his central symbol, the “kingdom of God”—was “tensive.”
But this distinction between steno and tensive symbol is forced, imprecise, and misleading. It also seems to reflect a rather uncritical assumption that whatever pertains to Jesus must somehow be superior to whatever pertains to the Early Judaism of which he was a part. In response to criticism, Perrin later modified his approach. In Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom, Perrin says:
It now seems to me that I have pressed too hard the distinction between a ‘steno-’ and a ‘tensive’ symbol in the case of apocalyptic symbols. It is still a most important distinction, and it is still true that most apocalyptic symbols are steno-symbols. But it is also true that the distinction is not hard and fast, and that ... some seers no doubt saw the symbols as steno-symbols while others saw them as tensive.
The proper implication of the above, according to Perrin, is that “we have to investigate each case on its merits.”
While there may be some value in conceptualizing symbolism as “steno” or “tensive,” these distinctions are not clean alternatives, but rather two ends of a continuum. The depth with which one understands the meaning of the symbolism is a matter of interpretation and appreciation, and authorial intent is especially elusive at this point. In other words, tensive is in the eye of the beholder, the interpreter, who is attempting to understand and interpret the creative direction the author is taking the reader.
One further cautionary note may be in order. As Otto Böcher has pointed out in his article on Qumran and the Apocalypse in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, some of the comparisons of the Apocalypse and the Dead Sea Scrolls in the past have been overly enthusiastic and uncritical in their identifications of genetic parallels. What has occasionally appeared to be evidence of direct influence of the Qumran writings on the Apocalypse has usually proved to be only comparable parallel material reflecting similar interests. Although various arguments about direct literary dependence by John on the Scrolls at this or that point continue to be promoted, I offer no such argument here, but leave the discussion open at this point.
Caution about confusing genetic parallels with generic parallels is essential. Nevertheless, the search for both kinds of parallels is valid and valuable for understanding the history and literature of the time. Whether we have genetic parallels that can plausibly suggest “direct influence” or only generic parallels that witness to common world views, languages, and understandings—in either case those parallels help us to gain a fuller appreciation of the types of symbol systems being used and a broader understanding of religion in the period.
Given the challenges and necessary limitations just identified, and the useful warning of Samuel Sandmel against “parallelomania,” one might legitimately ask whether the enterprise of comparing these literatures is sound in the first place: Why compare these two bodies of literature, uneven as they are, representing communities in different parts of the world, one representing Jewish life in Second Temple Judaism and one representing (Jewish-)Christian perspectives in post-Second Temple early (Jewish) Christianity? Is there enough in common here to warrant a comparison?
In his chapter on “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Revelation,” Peter Flint says,
Most discussions of the relationship between the Qumran scrolls and the new Testament have placed little emphasis on the book of Revelation. … This is somewhat surprising, in view of the relevance of documents such as the War Scroll and the New Jerusalem Text for our understanding of the New Testament book. … Most studies and commentaries on the book of Revelation have not felt the full impact of the scrolls.
With these judgments I agree, and for several reasons.
First, the Apocalypse is clearly Jewish literature. The interpretation of the Apocalypse by Christians in the last 100 years has sometimes been distracted by the misdirected question of whether the Apocalypse is Jewish or Christian. A closely related but equally misdirected question is, How Christian is it? These questions are misdirected because they are based on several false claims or assumptions: first, that Christianity and Judaism were true alternatives, separate religions at the end of the first century ce; second, that apocalyptic thought was essentially Jewish and that Christian thought was basically nonapocalyptic. Furthermore, there has been a subtle anti-Semitism latent in the question, as if the determination that the Apocalypse were Jewish would suggest that its theology were somehow sub-Christian. For instance, Böcher’s 1985 article in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt betrays theological discomfort with his own enterprise. At the end of his article he finds it necessary to appeal to Martin Luther and to conclude that “all Jewish hopes are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.”
That historical-critical investigations betray such discomfort witnesses to the fact that the Jewish and Christian communities of interpreters have a ways to go yet in applying their historical insights to theological categories in impartial ways. Fortunately, the Jewish and Christian communities of Dead Sea Scrolls scholars have shown more respect and appreciation for the other in recent years—both for the other’s confessional commitments and for the other’s historical-critical work. Fortunately also, scholarship on the Apocalypse has, for the most part, moved on to issues more fruitful than how Jewish or Christian it is, based on anachronistic assumptions.
Second, historical work on the period of Early Judaism has suffered from a canonical myopia. Although the Hebrew Bible is shared by Jews and Christians today, students of the New Testament tend to think of the noncanonical material only as “background” for the study of the canonical documents. Whether this is valid for doing theological work is one question. However, for historical work, it is essential to recognize that canons emerge from communities and reflect the life situations of those communities—life situations much broader and more complex than the canons at hand.
Historical work knows no canonical boundaries. No students of the New Testament can hope to understand Jesus or the life situation of the gospels if they do not understand from 1 and 2 Maccabees and other sources the powerful events of the second century bce that threatened and forever changed the character and questions of Early Judaism. And no students of the New Testament can hope to understand Jesus or the life situation of the gospels if they do not understand something of the apocalyptic stream of thought represented by the library we call 1 Enoch. Any student of the New Testament or of Jesus or of early Christianity must also be a student of Early Judaism. And the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has afforded the student of Early Judaism a wonderful treasure: a new window on the first two centuries bce and the first century ce.
A third reason for undertaking the comparison is that both the Apocalypse and the Qumran literature are deeply rooted in biblical traditions and theological understandings. Both literatures treat biblical traditions as if they were authoritative for faith and life; both depend heavily on those traditions for their basic categories of thought, their basic world views. The Hebrew Scriptures, in whatever forms they existed for these communities, were central to the daily life and thought structures of both communities. As such, these literatures represent attempts to interpret those scriptures for their own efforts to live faithfully on a daily basis. Both communities found God’s will clearly displayed in sacred scripture and both interpreted God’s will through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
A fourth reason is that both communities understood themselves as standing directly within the biblical prophetic tradition, both as living in the last days, and both as having a unique revelation from God about how to do so. Both the Qumran Community and the author of the Apocalypse saw themselves as engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the forces of darkness—a struggle easily amenable to the symbolism of warfare. Thus, comparison would seem fruitful, though the methodological challenges warrant caution.
In short, what is most remarkable about the work that has been done to mine the Scrolls for our understanding of the New Testament is the paucity of comparative work that has been done with regard to the Apocalypse of John.
Qumran-Informed Exegesis of Revelation
Among the authors of English-language studies who have brought to their interpretation of Revelation a significant understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls are David E. Aune, Richard Bauckham, George Wesley Buchanan, and J. Massyngberde Ford. Buchanan’s commentary is specifically an “intertextual” commentary.
A consensus seems to be emerging among scholars of the Apocalypse and of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the two most fruitful points of contact between the two literatures are: (1) their understandings of the final eschatological battle; and (2) their understandings of the New Jerusalem. Any interpreter of Revelation wishing to address the rich traditions inherent in these important themes of the Apocalypse would do well to pay close attention to what the Scrolls say. Nevertheless, scholars of the Apocalypse do not always think about the Scrolls in their work and even those scrolls scholars who work in New Testament studies do not always think about the Apocalypse of John in their work.
The most extensive comparison of the methods of biblical interpretation in Revelation with those in the Dead Sea Scrolls is that by Steve Moyise in his dissertation, The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation. Although it is significant that we see no parallel in Revelation to the formal pesher method of interpretation like that we see in 1QpHab, there are, nevertheless, significant parallels in method. Moyise discusses six: (1) identifying an object or character metaphorically; (2) the use of catchwords; (3) the use of abbreviation; (4) applying the attributes of one subject to another; (5) correcting one text by means of another; and (6) the creative reinterpretation of Hebrew roots. Similarly, Jan Fekkes III keeps a close eye on the Scrolls when seeking quotations, parallels, and allusions to the symbols in Revelation.
The pursuit of clarification regarding other elements in John’s Revelation in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls continues with regard to specific themes or symbols. The ways in which the many scenes of worship in Revelation may reflect features present in the scrolls is considered by Carol Newsom in her work on the Angelic Liturgy. Many other individual pursuits of this type have been done. For instance, is there a connection between the Apocalypse’s figure of the whore of Babylon and the seductress of Dame Folly and Lady Wisdom (4Q184)? Many more such studies, in which individual themes or symbols in Revelation are elucidated in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, should appear in the next 20 years.
The tendency of the Thanksgiving Hymns to allude frequently to the Hebrew Scriptures without quoting directly has a strong parallel in Revelation. The following quotation by Wise, Abegg, and Cook with regard to 1QH is striking for its applicability to Revelation: “Old Testament vocabulary and phraseology so abound in the Thanksgiving Psalms that readers feel they have entered a virtual mosaic of biblical quotations. ... Yet, surprisingly, only one passage can be considered an actual quotation ... .”
Claims to revelatory status vary widely among the scrolls. Both the author of 1QpHab and the author of Revelation understood their works to be uniquely revelatory. The Temple Scroll also makes an implicit claim to being revelatory literature, in part through the switch from the third-person narration of God’s voice to the first-person narration of God’s voice. However, the Temple Scroll, which probably did not originate at Qumran, does not exhibit anything like the eschatological urgency of 1QpHab. The revelatory claims of the author of 1QpHab are distinctive because of his conviction that he was living in the latter days and that the unresolved mysteries of earlier revelations were now resolved in this final revelation of God’s will (1QpHab 6.12b–7.7).
There are differences here, of course. Elisabath Schüssler Fiorenza denies any substantial parallel, since the Righteous Teacher is specifically said to have been granted interpretive insight. In contrast, John is the receiver of a prophetic revelation. Both are granted unique authority to understand the Scriptures based on their eschatological situation.
Both the Scrolls and Revelation are somewhat self-conscious in their use of symbolism. Both use the word is in a metaphorical sense (CD 6.4-11; 7.14-21; Rev 1:20; 17:9-12, 15, 18). However, in the Scrolls, the Scriptures themselves are seen as the symbol that must be identified. In Revelation, both the symbol and its interpretation are part of the revelation, in a manner that is closer to 11QTemple.
A complex of fragmentary Dead Sea Scrolls refer to or imply knowledge of a “New Jerusalem.” These are usually designated New Jerusalem ar and include 1QJN (1Q32); 2QJN (2Q24); 4QJNa and 4QJNb (4Q554–555); 5QJN (5Q15); and 11QJN (11Q18). Most scholars treat these as separate fragments from the same core document, “The Description of the New Jerusalem” or “A Vision of the New Jerusalem.” The Temple Scroll also describes a restored Jerusalem, but its literary relationship to New Jerusalem is disputed.
The idea of a new or renewed Jerusalem is already present in the Hebrew Bible. While the phrase “new Jerusalem” does not itself appear there, the concept does. Ezekiel envisions restoration in terms of a rebuilt Temple in a rebuilt Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40–48). This restoration is to be so complete as to warrant a new name for the new city: “The name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The Lord is There’” (Ezekiel 48:35). Also, in Isaiah 52:1 and 54:11-17 we see a vision of a restored and rebuilt Jerusalem.
In Isaiah 60–62, the prophet expands on this vision of a renewed, restored, and rebuilt Jerusalem. There, the renewed city serves as a metaphor for the renewal of all creation under the lordship of the Lord, the Creator God. An understanding of God as Creator and sustainer is essential to the Isaiah tradition. Isaiah says,
17For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress. (Isaiah 65:17-19)
This vision of new heavens and a new earth became a stock element in at least some of the eschatological visions of late Second Temple Judaism. For instance, Tobit concludes with an ex eventu review of history that includes the postexilic rebuilding of the Temple and of Jerusalem. But the vision of the Diaspora gathering to Jerusalem shows that this is more than just a review of history: the gathering of the Diaspora in a rebuilt and restored Jerusalem is eschatological. Similarly, the author of the Animal Apocalypse portrays the end times in terms of a restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Enoch 90:28-29). Jubilees envisions restoration as a rebuilt sanctuary and the marked presence of God: “And I shall build my sanctuary in their midst, and I shall dwell with them. And I shall be their God and they will be my people truly and rightly” (Jub 1:17; cf. also 1:27-28). 2 Esdras 7:26 and 10:25-59 likewise portray New Jerusalem as a symbol of Israel’s glorious restoration (cf. also Sib Or 5.420-27; t.Dan 5:12-13; 2Bar 4; 32:2-4).
Paul’s understanding of the renewal of creation also fits in this stream of eschatological expectation (see, e.g., Rom. 8:18-25). The author of 2 Peter likewise says, “In accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (3:13). In short, the vision of a renewed heaven and earth, and a renewed Temple in a renewed Jerusalem, was a stock element in many of the eschatologies of Second Temple Judaism.
While this so-called New Jerusalem is foreseen as a sacred place in sacred time (i.e., the near future), it is also seen as a symbol of the redeemed Community itself (1QpHab 12.3-4; 1QS 8.4b-10a; 4Q174 [Florilegium] 3.6), though in the famous passage from CD 7.14-21, tabernacle is equated with the Books of the Law and king with the congregation. Care must be taken here, since there are at least four different Temples to which the Scrolls refer. First, there is the Temple in Jerusalem. Along with the priests that served there, the Temple in Jerusalem was considered hopelessly corrupt and evil. Second, there was an intermediate Temple that was to be built sometime in the future in anticipation of the final eschatological Temple. Third, the final eschatological Temple would be built by God himself. Fourth, some texts treat the Temple metaphorically, as a symbol of the redeemed Community itself.
New Jerusalem and the Temple Scroll, like Revelation 3:12 and 21:2, bear witness to this common pool of images for the final restoration. Although the Scrolls never specifically speak of a “new Jerusalem,” as the Apocalypse does, the vision of a restored Jerusalem is common to both.
García Martínez probably goes too far when he calls New Jerusalem “the missing link in ... the chain of tradition that ends up in the Apocalypse of the New Testament.” There seems to be little in common between New Jerusalem and Revelation that is not also found in Ezekiel. For instance, all three plans speak of 12 gates in the city wall, with three on each side, named after the 12 tribes of Israel (Ezek 48:30-34; 11QT 39.11-13; 4Q554 Frag 1 1.9–2.10; Rev 21:12-14).
There are, however, two possible exceptions to the pattern of common but unconnected dependence upon Ezekiel. First, both New Jerusalem and Revelation expand the size of the city in comparison with Ezekiel. New Jerusalem expands it tenfold and Revelation 1,000-fold. Ezekiel’s measurements imply a city circumference of around six miles (Ezek 48:16, 35); New Jerusalem’s circumference is around 60 miles (4Q554 Frag 1 1–2); while the new Jerusalem in Revelation (Rev 21:16) is about 6000 miles in circumference—as large as Europe, and equally as high! A second difference is that both New Jerusalem and Revelation describe the precious materials used in the building of the city—something we see in Isaiah 54:11-12 and Tobit 13:16, but not in Ezekiel (cf. also Exod 39:8-14; 1Pet 2:4-8).
One important difference between the Scrolls and Revelation stands out sharply: the vision in Ezekiel, New Jerusalem, and the Temple Scroll include both a new Jerusalem and a new Temple. But the new Jerusalem in John’s vision has no Temple, because “its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev 21:22). Both communities envisioned an eschaton that would be marked by the intimate presence of God. We see this in Rev 20:3 and in 11QTemple 7–9. In Revelation the presence of God vitiates the need for a Temple, whereas in 11QTemple, the eschatological Temple will be built by God himself.
I shall accept them and they shall be my people and I shall be for them for ever. I will dwell with them for ever and ever and will sanctify my [sa]nctuary by my glory. I will cause my glory to rest on it until the day of creation on which I shall create my sanctuary, establishing it for myself for all time according to the covenant which I have made with Jacob in Bethel.
The symbolism of architecture seems to predominate in the Scrolls. We see this, for instance, in 1QS 8.4b-10a: “eternal planting … a holy house ... the foundation ... the most holy dwelling [My#dwq #dwq Nw(m]” (cf. Jub 16:26), temple, holy of holies, a “tested wall, the precious cornerstone” (cf. Isa. 28:16), foundation, fortress, a blameless and true house in Israel (cf. Rule of the Community [4Q259 = 4QSe]; Isaiah Pesher 1 [4Q164]). This architectural theme is supplemented in both literatures, probably in dependence upon Isa. 54:11, by an interest in precious jewels (Isaiah Pesher 1 [4Q164]).
But inanimate life is not the only key symbol in the Scrolls. We find also many references to living water or to the river of life (Rev 22:1; 1QH 16[f8].4-11), which flows from the throne. The Scrolls are especially apt to envision Paradise in terms of trees, lush vegetation, and flowing water (cf. 1QH 16). The eschaton is characterized by a return to the Garden of Eden. In both literatures, the redemption of the eschaton is portrayed in terms of the renewal of creation, even a re-creation.
The most important feature of the New Jerusalem in the Scrolls symbolically is the measuring of that city. Measuring serves as a symbol of God’s order and protection, a symbol of God’s presence and the surety of God’s future blessing (Rev 11:1-2; Temple Scroll; New Jerusalem). In Revelation, three things are measured: the Temple, the altar, and those who worship there (11:1).
Both literatures place great emphasis on “works.” Some interpreters, such as Otto Böcher, see in the Apocalypse’s equivalence of pi/stiv and e1rgon a theological novelty, perhaps an anti-Pauline polemic. The word e1rga appears in five of the seven letters to the churches in Rev 2–3. Both Revelation and the Scrolls exhibit a vivid concern for a real ethical righteousness conceived in part as maintaining clear boundaries between people groups and ultimately understood as keeping the Law as interpreted by the Community. Both literatures treat works as the basis of reward and as the basis of punishment, though the Scrolls exhibit a stronger theology of grace in some respects. Grace is not central to either literature, though it is emphasized in the Thanksgiving Hymns more than in Revelation.
Five of the seven prophetic oracles to the churches of the Apocalypse begin with the ambiguous comment, “I know your works.” One of the central works in the Apocalypse is keeping the words of this prophecy (1:3; 22:7, 9, 12), which seems to be equivalent to, or at least on par with, keeping “the commandments” (12:17; 14:12). Works are symbolized as clothing. At least some of the impetus for this symbolization of clothing as works or righteousness comes from the Hebrew Bible. For instance, in Zechariah 3:3-5 Joshua is found with dirty clothes on, clothes that represent the guilt of Judah. And Isaiah says, “Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins” (11:5; cf. also Blessings [1QSb] 5.25-26). The relationship between righteousness and fine clothing is witnessed in several passages in the Hebrew Bible: Isa. 59:17; 61:3,10; 63:1; Job 40:10 (cf. also Ezek 16:8-22).
Stephen Goranson has argued that there is a clearly identifiable Essene polemic in the Apocalypse of John. He introduced this thesis in his article, “The Exclusion of Ephraim in Rev. 7:4-8 and Essene Polemic Against Pharisees” and carried it further in his essay, “Essene Polemic in the Apocalypse of John.” His argument rests in part on the observation that a connection between faith and keeping the commandments (i.e., “works”) is common to both the Apocalypse and the Dead Sea Scrolls—a relationship quite unlike the one we see in Paul.
However, such a reading may derive from an overly Augustinian understanding of Paul and an illegitimate—or at least anachronistic—contrast between Judaism and Christianity. Despite Paul’s writings, the strong emphasis on keeping the commandments that we see in the Apocalypse and in the Dead Sea Scrolls would not have been unusual or distinctive within first-century Judaism. Nor are there signs to indicate that the emphasis on works in the Apocalypse is in any way indebted to the halakic interests of the scrolls. It is true that both the Scrolls and the Apocalypse emphasize reproof and discipline (cf. Rev 3:19; Rule of the Community [1QS] 5.24–6.1; Damascus Document [CD] 9.2-8; Polemical Fragment [4Q471a]; Decrees [4Q477]). Both communities are enjoined to pay close attention to matters of lifestyle and to develop and maintain a clear counter-cultural consciousness about their identity and way of living (cf. 1QS 1.1-15; 8.16b–9.2), though the method of parenetic address is more direct in the Scrolls. There are further differences. More attention is given in the Scrolls to the specifics of covenant faithfulness, to the exact shape of that faithfulness. In Revelation, the rhetoric revolves around the importance of following the commandments generally and the uncompromising allegiance that such commitment entails, rather than the specifics involved, though some specifics are present (e.g., avoiding food offered to idols [Rev 2:14, 20; cf. 1 Cor 8:1-10; 10:19]).
Serious commitment to the works of the Law—to a real ethical righteousness—was quite natural and unremarkable in first-century Judaism. It certainly was not unique to Revelation and the Scrolls. Emphasis upon “works” was simply one expression of the seriousness with which most Jewish groups took the Torah in Second Temple Judaism: “Torah was one of the major categories which defined Jewish life during the Greco-Roman period.”
In order to substantiate an alleged anti-Pauline Essene polemic in the Apocalypse, one would have to demonstrate the presence of an argument that specifically envisions a different sort of theology. However, neither literature examines theologically (at least in the way Paul does) the relationship between salvation by grace through faith and salvation by works. There is no anti-Pauline polemic in Revelation with respect to the so-called grace/works dichotomy, though there may be in regard to eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Thus, I find wanting the suggestion that the emphasis on works, which is common to both literatures, is genetically significant.
Naming as Rhetorical Strategy
It is impossible to compare the rhetorical strategies of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the rhetorical strategy of the Apocalypse with any precision because of the variety of literatures, rhetorical strategies, and historical situations in the Scrolls. However, one particular rhetorical strategy has features common to both literatures: the strategy of “naming.”
There are few real names in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ostraca have been discovered in the ruins that also mention specific names. One of the scrolls also mentions a king Jonathan. However, the Scrolls are amazingly reticent to mention the people of their own Community by name.
Nevertheless, the scrolls do use naming as a way to characterize both the people in the Community and the people outside of the Community. Some of the symbolic pseudonyms used are positive, such as Sons of Light (rw) ynb; cf. War Scroll [1QM] 1.1; Community Rule [1QS] 3.13), Righteous Teacher (qdch hrwm; cf. Damascus Document [CD] 1.5-11), the Poor Ones (Mynwyb); cf. Thanksgiving Hymns [1QH] 3.3; Psalm Pesher 2 [4Q171] 3.10), and the Community (dxyh; cf. 1QS 1.1; Habakkuk Pesher [1QpHab] 12.4; Micah Pesher 1 [1QpMic] Frgs 8-10 8). It is not clear whether “furious young lion” (Nwrxh rypk; Hosea Pesher [4QpHos] Frg 2 2; cf. “angry lion”; Alexander Jannaeus?) is appreciative, critical, or neutral in force.
The Qumran covenantors saw the lion as a symbol for violent aggression and for royalty. The Qumran covenantors did not see the lion as a symbol for the messiah, despite the fact that in 1QSb 5.29 the destructive force of the messiah is compared to that of the lion, perhaps drawing on Num 23:24 or Mic 5:8. Geza Vermes argues on the basis of 1QSb 5.29; Targum Onkelos on Gen 49:9; 4 Ezra 12:31-32; and Rev 5:5 that the symbolic representation of the messiah as a lion was “known in all sectors of Palestinian Judaism ... [and] that it represented a tradition familiar to all.” However, there are two significant problems with this conclusion. First, Vermes fails to recognize that the lion in 1QSb 5.29 is not a symbol with a sustained semantic value. Rather, it is a passing simile. This difference is significant for whether a whole tradition of understanding lies behind a concept. The messiah is also compared to a bull in 1QSb 5.27 without any implication that the bull was a well-known symbol for the messiah. Second, the other texts to which Vermes appeals are all relatively late.
Among the most common of the negative sobriquets in the Scrolls are “seekers after smooth things,” or “flattery-seekers,” as Abegg and Wise translate it. Although a debated issue, these “seekers after smooth things” are likely equivalent to “Ephraim,” both of which refer to the Pharisees. “Manasseh” is another sobriquet. “Ephraim” and “Manasseh” appear to represent two separate factions that were at one point part of the Qumran Community. Other oblique “names” include among others, Wicked Priest (h#rh Nhwkh; 1QpHab 8.8), the Man of the Lie (bzkh #y); CD 20.15), Sons of Darkness (K#wx ynb; 1QM 1.1; 1QS 1.10), and the Kittim (My)ytkh or Myytkh; 1QpHab 2.12,14; 1QM 1.4). We also see this negative form of naming in More Precepts of the Torah (4QMMT).
Thus naming was one way to create and maintain a way of looking at the world, a symbolic universe, a way of defining reality and maintaining appropriate boundaries. We see a similar naming strategy in Revelation. Like the Scrolls, the Apocalypse is stingy with real names. The names of only three first-century personalities are clearly given: the name of the author, John (Rev 1:1,4,9; 22:8), Antipas (2:13), and the name of Jesus (Rev 1:1,2,5,9; 12:17; 14:12; 17:6; 19:10; 20:4; 22:16). However, more than three dozen symbolic pseudonyms express dynamically and functionally the role of Jesus in the believing community. These pseudonyms include the faithful witness (o( ma&rtuv o( pisto&v; 1:5), the firstborn from the dead (o( prwto&tokov tw~n nekrw~n; 1:5), and the ruler of the kings of the earth (o( a1rxwn tw~n basile/wn th~v gh~v; 1:5), among many others.
And like the Scrolls, the Apocalypse is full of negative sobriquets. These sobriquets include Nicolaitans (2:6,15), Jezebel (2:20), Balaamites (2:14), and references to people who “call themselves” one thing (2:2, 9, 20; 3:9) but “are not” (2:2,9). The author even charges some with blasphemy when they consider themselves part of the believing community (2:9). He refers to some as the synagogue of Satan (2:9; 3:9), as liars (2:2), and as evildoers among the people of God (2:2). These references suggest that the author does not share his readers’ assessment of their current sociopolitical situation. Naming is a way of attaching praise and blame—a strategy central to the epideictic rhetoric of the book. Alongside Revelation’s use of negative sobriquets, such as Jezebel, there is also the explicit denial of positive sobriquets, such as “Jews” (I)oudai=oi) in 2:9; 3:9; apostles (a)po&stoloi) in 2:2; and prophet (profh~tiv) in 2:20. So we see the author waging a battle in the Apocalypse by means of the rhetorical strategy of naming.
Both literatures connect suffering and faithfulness (1QpHab 8.2; 1QH 17.10; 1QS 8.4-5; Rev 2:19) and conceive of faith (or faithfulness) as a work of loyalty (1QpHab 8.2; Rev 2:19; 13:10; 14:12). Both literatures exhibit a strong sense of inside/outside consciousness, both sociologically and in spatial terms (Rev 2:2; 3:12). Both communities exhibit sectarian attitudes, and strongly and repeatedly enjoin its members to hate the works of evildoers, though there may be a slight distinction in that the command to hate in Revelation is directed at works rather than at people (2:6). Even in the Scrolls, however, the command to hate was not an invitation to hostile acts, but rather an invitation to withdrawal from association.
The closest parallels in the New Testament to the frequent use of the word hate in the Scrolls are in the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John. By way of contrast, Jesus said that his disciples are not to hate their enemies, but rather to love them (Matt. 5:43). Instead of hating their enemies, it’s their own families that they are to hate (Luke 14:26). In the New Testament, only Jesus enjoins hatred of people (Luke 14:26).
The Final Eschatological Battle
The book of Revelation and the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect strong similarities as well as strong differences with regard to the Community’s participation in the eschatological battle. In the Scrolls we see eschatological judgment both in terms of eternal blessing and eternal damnation and torment (1QS 4.11b-14; 5.13). There is also a clear mixing of combat myth and eschatological judgment in 1QH 14.27b-37. This eschatological judgment is portrayed as cosmic cataclysm in both works (1QH 4.13; 11.34-36; Rev 6:12-17; 8:7-12). Here the convulsions of creation normally associated with theophany are transformed (through an association with sacred time) into deeds of judgment associated with the eschaton.
Both were messianic communities in that an expectation of God’s messiah or messiahs was central to their theology. At Qumran, there is evidence that this expectation shifted over the course of time. Nevertheless, at least three messiahs or at least anointed figures were expected: the royal descendant of David, the high priest, and a prophet like Moses (1QS 9.11; Testimonies [4Q175] 1.5,12). In Revelation, the messiah is identified with the figure of Jesus. This must have required some radical shifting of eschatology.
Both literatures expected the rise of wicked figures who would serve as counterparts to the righteous figures (4Q175 1.23b-30; Rev 13:11). Both literatures tend to mix royal and priestly conceptions of the redeemed community: all of the redeemed are priests who reign (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). In both we see the crown as an eschatological blessing (1QS 4.7; Rev 2:10; 3:11); a symbol of shared kingship, but not one that supplants the royal priority of the one on the throne (4:10).
In both literatures we see a strong theology of unique revelation needed for the last days (4Q416). Bauckham has entitled his collection of essays Climax of Prophecy to underscore not only the prophetic self-understanding of John, but also the eschatological nature of the revelation given him. This revelation is unique not only because it is greater, fuller, more extensive than prior revelations, but because it comes at the close of the age and the dawning of the new. We see similar claims to unique revelation especially in 1QH (6.25b-27) and 1QpHab and 1Q27 (Book of Mysteries) 1.5-8.
Both literatures exhibit a strong purity consciousness, though with important differences. White garments abound in Revelation (3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13, 14; 19:14 [white (leuko/v) does not appear in 19:8, but bright (lampro/n) and pure (kaqaro/n) do]). Purity is an ever-present concern in the Scrolls. Revelation 7:14; 22:14 mentions the washing of robes. However, we see an important difference here as well. The garments in the Apocalypse are to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, which is a reference not to believing in Jesus as such, or to having one’s sins forgiven, but rather to the martyrdom that results from faithful witness, as Rev 3:21; 12:11; and 19:8 make clear. This washing is a piece of symbolism drawn from the holy war tradition (1QM 14.2-3). However, what in the Scrolls is a washing of the robes from the blood of the sinful Gentiles is in the Apocalypse the (white-)washing of robes in the blood of the Lamb. This explanation “achieves, by its startling paradox, a decisive reinterpretation of the holy war motif.” The Qumran scrolls also use garments in a symbolic way (1QS 4.8; cf. 1QM 14.2-3), but not to the same effect.
The Angelic Liturgy provides some interesting parallels with Revelation. Besides its fragmented view of a heavenly Temple, the expressions of praise in the Liturgy are somewhat similar to the expressions of praise in Revelation—especially in Rev 4–5. In both writings the Temple itself is animate and both speak of silence in heaven.
There are also many “false parallels” between the DSS and Revelation. For instance, the detailed description of the woman in labor who bears a male child in Rev. 12 may invite consideration of the woman in labor who bears a male child in 1QH 11.7b-18. However, in 1QH the woman and her labor serves as symbols of the writer’s own distress and the male child plays a rather insignificant role. Nevertheless, both the mother in distress and the child who is born safely through distress serve as symbols of salvation through tribulation.
There are many points of similarity as well as many points of difference between the Scrolls and the Apocalypse of John. The symbolic world is perhaps more consciously created and developed in the Apocalypse, which has the “advantage” of being a single work written or edited in a short period of time. We see such conscious symbolism in the apocalyptic narrative of the throne room scene in Revelation 4–5. There a lion is introduced, but what appears is a standing, slaughtered lamb with seven eyes and seven horns. This lamb then goes to the One seated on the throne and takes out of his right hand a scroll sealed with seven seals. This is all a highly creative and self-conscious use of symbolism that is seldom approached in the Qumran scrolls, except, perhaps in the Angelic Liturgy.
In the end, it is the Christology of the Apocalypse that serves as the prism through which many of the traditional symbol systems come to be refracted and redefined in the Apocalypse. Thus, no comparison of the Apocalypse with the Dead Sea Scrolls can afford to ignore what happens to symbols when one views them in light of an understanding of Jesus as Messiah.
We see this in John’s use of the combat myth: the slaughtered Lamb is the key to the unfolding of history. His death and resurrection represent and embody God’s decisive victory over evil. This Christology is also the key to ethics in the Apocalypse in a way that is unparalleled in the Scrolls. The Asian Christians are to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be faithful witnesses unto death. Battle scenes are abortive in Revelation, since the real victory is already in the past. The variety of messianic expectations in the Scrolls is more focused in Revelation, since Jesus is identified there as the messiah who forms a kingdom of priests who reign (1:6; 5:10; 20:6). And the advent of the New Jerusalem is additionally interpreted as a marriage of the Lamb with his bride.
The Christology of the Apocalypse has significantly shaped John’s inherited traditions. The rhetorical force of the combat myth is turned nearly upside-down by the lamb Christology. In Bauckham’s words, “Insofar as the Jewish hopes, rooted in [the] Scriptures, were for the victory of God over evil, [Rev.] 5:6 draws on other Old Testament Scriptures to show how they have been fulfilled in Jesus.” The believers are to conquer in the same way as the Lamb conquered, making use of the combat myth, but ultimately vitiating it. Thus, determining as closely as possible the exact nature, force, and extent of the reinterpretation of symbols and traditions becomes a crucial matter in the interpretation of Revelation.
Near the beginning of this essay, we mentioned briefly the value of comparing the ways in which these literatures constructed their symbolic worlds. While such a task is clearly complex and beyond the scope of this essay, a few preliminary remarks may be in order here. At the center of the symbolic universe sketched by the Apocalypse lies the key throne-room scene in Revelation 4–5. And at the center of that scene lies the riveting revelation of only one in the universe who is found worthy to take the Scroll and thus reveal the key to history: the crucified and resurrected Christ, portrayed not as messianic lion, but as a slain but standing lamb.
John Howard Yoder has offered a challenging theological interpretation of the revelation of Jesus as lamb:
John is here saying, not as an inscrutable paradox but as a meaningful affirmation, that the cross and not the sword, suffering and not brute power determines the meaning of history. The key to the obedience of God’s people is not their effectiveness but their patience (13:10). The triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and other kinds of power in every human conflict. The triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of any calculation of causes and effects, nor because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God’s people and the triumph of God’s cause is not a relationship of cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection.
The crux here is, of course, is not only whether John Howard Yoder’s theological interpretation is true to the Apocalypse, but also whether the vision of John’s Apocalypse is true—whether the death and resurrection of Christ really do constitute the crucial key to the unlocking of the meaning of history, or whether it represents a sad misunderstanding of the cross and its relevance for resistance or accommodation to society. That the symbol of the Lamb is the key to the Christology of the Apocalypse is beyond dispute; it dominates the book. That the book’s Lamb Christology undergirds an ethic of faithful witness is not beyond dispute, but it can be demonstrated through careful exegesis. While the question of truth cannot be answered on the basis of empirical investigation, the modern reader cannot completely avoid the challenge of either being drawn into the symbolic universe constructed on that truth on the one hand or consciously resisting it on the other.
The ethics of the Scrolls vary from scroll to scroll. Nevertheless, the various rules (e.g., 1QS, CD, and 1QM) and More Precepts of the Torah (4QMMT) all revolve around the creation and maintenance of a community of faith that is based on strict adherence to the community’s covenant or rule. Near the heart of that community life lies a strong view of the importance of ritual purity, the significance of legal precision, and of separation from evil—both symbolically and literally.
Both the ethical paraenesis of Rev 2–3 and the visions themselves support the creation and maintenance of communities of faith that are based on an exclusive allegiance to the One who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, and on a repudiation of compromise with Graeco-Roman values. Near the heart of that community life lies a strong view of the history-revealing victory won by Jesus in the cross and resurrection, the significance of faithful witness to that Jesus, even to the point of death, and of separation from evil—both symbolically and literally.
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This is not to suggest that the “Hebrew Scriptures” were fixed in either scope or form at the time of the scribal activity at Qumran. Rather, it is simply to affirm the importance of those scriptures for both communities.
The comparative value is primarily in one direction: the value of the Dead Sea Scrolls for understanding Revelation. There is little value in Revelation for understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, unless obliquely, in so far as Revelation does bear witness to some of the trajectories certain symbols took in the history of Early Judaism.
I am not attempting here to make a case for the compositional unity of this document nor am I simply assuming it. For a recent review of the various hypotheses offered for the Apocalypse’s composition history, see David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5 (Dallas: Word Books, 1997), cv-cxxiv. However, regardless of the book’s compositional history or the integrity or artificiality of its present unity, it remains a single literary work, unlike the Scrolls.
See, e.g., the cautions raised by Carol A. Newsom, “Knowing and Doing: The Social Symbolics of Knowledge at Qumran,” Semia 59 (1992): 139–53.
For an analysis of Perrin’s treatment of the literature of Early Judaism, see James H. Charlesworth, “The Historical Jesus in Light of Writings Contemporaneous with Him,” ed. W. Haase, Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt: Principat, no. 25/1 (1982), 451–76; see also Calvin R. Mercer, Norman Perrin’s Interpretation of the New Testament: From “Exegetical Method” to “Hermeneutical Process”, Studies in American Biblical Hermeneutics, no. 2 (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986), 83–89; and John J. Collins, “The Symbolism of Transcendence in Jewish Apocalyptic,” Biblical Research 19 (1974): 5–22.
Norman Perrin, “Eschatology and Hermeneutics: Reflections on Method in the Interpretation of the New Testament,” Journal of Biblical Literature 93 (March 1974): 11.
Norman Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom: Symbol and Metaphor in New Testament Interpretation (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 31. Perrin clearly saw the steno/tensive categories as an either/or matter.
Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom, 31.
For a fuller discussion of method in symbol analysis, see Loren L. Johns, The Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of John: An Investigation Into Its Origins and Rhetorical Force, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 109–20.
O. Böcher, “Die Johannes-Apokalypse und die Texte von Qumran,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, II 25.5 (1988): 3894; cf. also p. 3896 where Böcher denies that any of the Apocalypse of John parallels provide evidence of any “direct derivation” from the Qumran texts.
A good example of the lack of this caution is illustrated in a section from an essay by Barbara Thiering, who lists numerous parallels between Revelation and the Temple Scroll and then concludes that it is “probable” that Revelation “shows dependence on” the Temple Scroll and that “Revelation is consciously altering the Temple Scroll”; Barbara Thiering, “The Date of Composition of the Temple Scroll,” in Temple Scroll Studies: Papers Presented at the International Symposium on the Temple Scroll, Manchester, December 1987, ed. George J. Brooke, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series, no. 7 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989), 102–03.
Samuel Sandmel, “Parallelomania,” Journal of Biblical Literature 81 (1962): 1–13.
Peter W. Flint, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Revelation,” in The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002), 362. Flint here is quoting the comment made earlier by David Aune, upon whom he depends heavily in this chapter: “The fact that little if any emphasis is given to the Revelation of John [in discussions of the influence of the Qumran scrolls on the New Testament] is somewhat surprising, particularly in view of the apparent relevance of the War Scroll (1QM).” David E. Aune, “Qumran and the Book of Revelation,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, ed. Peter W. Flint and James C. VanderKam (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 622.
In making this statement, I do not intend to contrast Jewish with Christian, as if to say Jewish and not Christian. In this regard, I find John W. Marshall, Parables of War: Reading John’s Jewish Apocalypse, Studies in Christianity and Judaism (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001) more useful for its caution against anachronism regarding “Christianity” than for its denial that the basic context for the Apocalypse lay in the incipient diasporic church.
See, among others, Eduard Lohse, “Wie Christlich ist die Offenbarung des Johannes?” New Testament Studies 34, no. 3 (1988): 321–38; and G. R. Beasley-Murray, “How Christian is the Book of Revelation?” in Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology Presented to L. L. Morris on His 60th Birthday, ed. Robert J. Banks (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 275–84.
 On this point, see also the posthumous publication by D. Juel in this volume. He helpfully proposes that we jettison the word Christian for first-century texts and social groups, since it is anachronistic and thus misleading.
David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, Revelation 6–16, and Revelation 17–22, Word Biblical Commentary, nos. 52a–52c (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997–1998).
Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993).
George Wesley Buchanan, The Book of Revelation: Its Introduction and Prophecy, The Mellen Biblical Commentary, vol. 22, New Testament Series (Lewston/Queenston/Lampeter: Mellen Biblical Press, 1993).
J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation, The Anchor Bible, vol. 38 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1975).
 The identification of these two themes is common to David Aune, “Qumran and the Book of Revelation”; Adela Yarbro Collins, “Book of Revelation,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000): 2:772–74; and Peter W. Flint, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Revelation.”
 Note, for example, that George J. Brooke can review the history of scholarship on the Scrolls and the study of the New Testament without even referring to the Apocalypse of John! See “The Scrolls and the Study of the New Testament,” The Dead Sea Scrolls at Fifty: Proceedings of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature Qumran Sections Meetings, ed. Robert A. Kugler and Eileen M. Schuller (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 61–76.
Steve Moyise, The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 115 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995).
See Jan Fekkes, III, Isaiah and Prophetic Traditions in the Book of Revelation: Visionary Antecedents and Their Development, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 93 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1994).
Carol A. Newsom, “Angelic Liturgy: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q400–4Q407, 11Q17, Masada ShirShabb),” in Angelic Liturgy: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, ed. James H. Charlesworth and Carol A. Newsom, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations, vol. 4B (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999), 11–12.
See, e.g., Joseph M. Baumgarten, “On the Nature of the Seductress in 4Q184,” Revue de Qumran 15 (1991): 133–44.
Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, and Edward and Cook, eds, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 85.
qdch hrwm was translated “Teacher of Righteousness” early on and has become a standard in scrolls scholarship. However, there is no need to perpetuate this mistranslation. Cf. James H. Charlesworth, The Pesharim and Qumran History: Chaos or Consensus? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 28–30, for the history of this discussion.
Justice and Judgment, 136.
Cf. Moyise 98.
The literature on the New Jerusalem texts and their potential for understanding Revelation is extensive. Among them are Maurice Baillet, “Fragments Araméens de Qumrân: Description de la Jérusalem Nouvelle,” Revue Biblique 62 (April 1955): 222–45; Dieter Georgi, “Die Visonen vom Himmlischen Jerusalem in Apk 21 und 22,” in Kirche. Festschrift für Günther Bornkamm, eds. Dieter Luhrmann and Georg Strecker (Tübingen, 1980), 351–72; Celia Deutsch, “Transformation of Symbols: The New Jerusalem in Rv 21:1–22:5,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der Alteren Kirche 78, no. 1–2 (1987): 106–26; Émile Puech, “A Propos de la Jérusalem Nouvelle d’Après les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte,” Semitica 43–44 (1996): 87–102; Michael Chyutin, The New Jerusalem Scroll from Qumran: A Comprehensive Reconstruction, vol. 25 of The New Jerusalem Scroll from Qumran, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997); Johann Maier, Die Tempelrolle vom Toten Meer und das “Neue Jerusalem” (Munich: Uni-Taschenbücher, 1987); Florentino García-Martínez, “The Temple Scroll and the New Jerusalem,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, ed. Peter W. Flint and James C. VanderKam, in collaboration with Andrea E. Alvarez, Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, vol. 30b (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999), 431–60.
See, e.g., Ben Z. Wacholder, The Dawn of Qumran: The Sectarian Torah and the Teacher of Righteousness, Monographs of the Hebrew Union College, no. 8 (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1983), 96, who declares that New Jerusalem is dependent upon the Temple Scroll; Michael O. Wise, A Critical Study of the Temple Scroll from Qumran Cave 11, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, no. 49 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 64–86, who declares that the Temple Scroll is dependent upon New Jerusalem; and Florentino García Martínez, “The ‘New Jerusalem’ and the Future Temple of the Manuscripts from Qumran,” in Qumran and Apocalyptic: Studies on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran, ed. Florentino García Martínez, Studies on the Texts of the Deserts of Judah (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 180–213, who declares that these manuscripts are independent of each other, while mutually dependent upon Ezekiel 40–48; cf. also Florentino García Martínez, “New Jerusalem,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 609–10.
That some commentators have claimed that the conceptual background for the symbol of the new Jerusalem is “essentially Greek” is astonishing. See, e.g., William Barclay, The Revelation of John, Vol. 2, 3d ed., reprint, 1959, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 199.
Interestingly, when interpreting these passages directly, the Qumran Community interpreted these texts as referring to the establishment of the Qumran Community itself, not a literal, restored Jerusalem (see Isaiah Pesher 1 [4Q164] on Isa 54:11).
See, e.g., Ben C. Ollenburger, Zion, the City of the Great King: A Theological Symbol of the Jerusalem Cult, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, no. 41 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987).
For additional examples and helpful comment, see M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox, 1989), 213–15, esp. 214.
The phrase itself appears in Revelation 3:12 and 21:2, but not in the Scrolls.
García Martínez, “New Jerusalem,” 186. García Martínez is more judicial when he states with slightly more caution in his encyclopedia article, “The description of the city and temple in the New Jerusalem is located midway between Ezekiel’s description of the future Jerusalem and the Heavenly Jerusalem of the New Testament Book of Revelation 21–22.” García Martínez, “New Jerusalem ,” 609. It may well be one link in a chain with several missing links, but probably not the missing link. A broader understanding of the scope of traditions like the renewed Temple in a renewed Jerusalem is useful, such as that reflected in Victor Aptowitzer, The Celestial Temple as Viewed in the Aggadah, ed. Joseph Dan, Studies in Jewish Thought, Vol 2 (New York: Paeger, 1989).
This figuring is based on measurements of 140 stadia by 100 stadia, as suggested by García Martínez, García Martínez, “New Jerusalem”, with each stadium being one-eighth of a mile.
Whether the Jerusalem in New Jerusalem is a “heavenly” or earthly Jerusalem is a contested matter. It is sometimes assumed that this Jerusalem is heavenly, when New Jerusalem is interpreted as one of many expressions of “Urbild und Abbild,” but the text itself does not make this clear. See, e.g., García Martínez, “New Jerusalem”. That this new Jerusalem is idealized does not necessarily mean that it is celestial.
Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (New York: Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 1997), 200.
For “works” in Revelation, see 2:2,5,6,19,22,23,26; 3:1,2,8,15; 9:20; 14:13; 15:3 [God’s works]; 16:11; 18:6; 20:12,13; and 22:12.
Compare, e.g., Rev 2:2 with the “we,” “you,” and “they” language of 4QMMT, esp. Section C, ll. 7-9. Cf. also the discussion in John Kampen, “4QMMT and New Testament Studies,” in Reading 4QMMT: New Perspectives on Qumran Law and History, ed. John Kampen and Moshe Bernstein, Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series, no. 2 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996), 129–44.
Compare, e.g., Rev 20:12-13; 22:12 with 1QH 6.27.
The divine proclamation, “I know your works,” becomes the basis for either praise or condemnation. In 2:2,19; 3:8, Ephesus, Thyatira, and Philadelphia are praised for their “works.” In 3:1 and 3:15, Sardis and Laodicea are condemned for their “works.” For works in Revelation, see 2:2,5,6,19,22,23,26; 3:1,2,8,15; 9:20; 14:13; 15:3 [God’s works]; 16:11; 18:6; 20:12,13; 22:12.
Cf. 1:13; 3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13, 14; 15:6; 16:15; 17:4; 18:16; 19:8, 13, 16; 22:14. Cf. esp. 7:13-14; 19:8; 22:14.
Stephen Goranson, “The Exclusion of Ephraim in Rev. 7:4–8 and Essene Polemic Against Pharisees,” Dead Sea Discoveries 2, no. 1 (1995): 80–85.
Stephen Goranson, “Essene Polemic in the Apocalypse of John,” in Legal Texts and Legal Issues: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Cambridge, 1995: Published in Honour of Joseph M. Baumgarten, ed. Moshe Bernstein, Florentino García Martínez, and John Kampen (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 453–60.
The parenesis in the prophetic oracles of Rev 2-3 represent a partial exception to the general rule that the parenetic or deliberative rhetoric of the Apocalypse is oblique.
John Kampen, “’Righteousness’ in Matthew and the Legal Texts from Qumran,” in Legal Texts and Legal Issues: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Cambridge 1995 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 461; cf. also “Law in Judaism of the NT Period,” Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992) 4.254–65.
See, e.g., Frank Moore Cross and Esther Eshel, “The Missing Link: Does a New Inscription Establish a Connection Between Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls?” Biblical Archaeology Review 24, no. 2 (March/April 1998): 48–53, 69.
Cf. Prayer for King Jonathan (4Q448). Whether this “Jonathan” is Alexander Jannaeus or the Maccabean Jonathan is a matter of debate. For the former view, see Esther Eshel, Hanan Eshel, and Ada Yardeni, “A Qumran Composition Containing Part of Ps. 154 and a Prayer for the Welfare of King Jonathan and His Kingdom,” Israel Exploration Journal 42 (1992): 199–229; for the latter view, see Geza Vermes, “The So-Called King Jonathan Fragment (4Q448),” Journal of Jewish Studies 44 (1993): 294–300.
Only Decrees (4Q477), a record of rebukes brought in disciplinary action, mentions members of the Community by name: a Johanan and two Hananiahs. Names of other known people outside the Community are only slightly more plentiful. Examples include “[Deme]trius” (4QpNahum Frags 3-4 1.2); “Antiochus” (4QpNahum Frags 3-4 1.3); “Balakros” (Alexander Balas?; Pseudo-Daniel ar [4Q243-245] l. 27). Some of the liturgical calendars also refer to several known historical people, including Hyrcanus (Calendrical Document Ca [4Q322] Frg 2, line 6), Shelamzion (Salome Alexandra; 4Q322 Frag. 2, line 4; Calendrical Document Ce [4Q324b] Frg 1 2.7), Amelios (M. Aemilius Scaurus; Calendrical Document Cd [4Q324a] Frag. 2 8); and a Yoḥanan (4Q324b Frg 1 1.5).
Cf. Geza Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973), 40–43.
Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism, 43.
Cf. 4QpNah 2.2; Wise, Abegg, and and Cook, Dead Sea Scrolls, 218.
Cf. esp. 4QpNah 2.2-10 for an apparent equation of “seekers after smooth things” with “Ephraim.”
See Johns, The Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of John, 217–21.
For an excellent analysis of the central role of “naming” in the rhetorical strategy of the Seer, see Edith M. Humphrey, “On Visions, Arguments and Naming: The Rhetoric of Specificity and Mystery in the Apocalypse” (San Francisco, 1997), Internet: http://www.wright.edu/academics/faculty/dbarr/humphrey.htm. See also Friedrich Wilhelm Horn, “Zwischen der Synagoge des Satans und dem Neuen Jerusalem: Die Christlich-Jüdische Standortbestimmung in der Apokalypse des Johannes,” Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 46, no. 2 (1994): 143–62.
Cf. Leonard L. Thompson, “Mooring the Revelation in the Mediterranean,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1992 Seminar Papers, Society of Biblical Literature 1992 Seminar Papers, no. 31 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992), 648.
Pheme Perkins, “Apocalyptic Sectarianism and Love Commands: The Johannine Epistles and Revelation,” chapt. 12 in The Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament, ed. Willard M. Swartley, Studies in Peace and Scripture (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 288.
Among the better comparisons of Revelation with the Dead Sea Scrolls as regards the combat myth are those of Ford, Josephine Massyngbaerde Ford, “Shalom in the Johannine Corpus,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 6, no. 2 (December 1984): 67–89; Giblin, Charles Homer Giblin, The Book of Revelation: The Open Book of Prophecy, Good News Studies, vol. 34 (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 25–34; and Richard Bauckham, “The Apocalypse as a Christian War Scroll,” chapt. 8 in The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993), 210–37. Matthew Black refers in passing to the Apocalypse of John “as a kind of ‘War Scroll,’” Matthew Black, “‘Not Peace but a Sword’: Matt 10:34ff; Luke 12:51ff,” in Jesus and the Politics of His Day, ed. Ernst Bammel and C. F. D. Moule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 293, but he does not develop the concept.
 On the messianism of the Dead Sea Scrolls, see The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature, by John J. Collins; The Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1995); Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Craig A. Evans and Peter W. Flint; Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996); and Qumran-Messianism: Studies on the Messianic Expectations in the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Hermann Lichtenberer, and Gerbern S. Oegema (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1998.
See, among the many examples of this, On Excrement (4Q472a), sometimes called Halakah C.
Contra David E. Aune, “The Revelation to John (Apocalypse),” in The HarperCollins Study Bible, gen. ed. Wayne A. Meeks (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), 2319; cf. Rev 7:14; 12:11. Bauckham’s interpretation is more apt: “They ‘have conquered through the blood of the Lamb’ (12:11). In 7:14 John has fused this thought of victory (the white robes of 7:9) with that of purification (they have washed their robes white; cf. also 19:8). Probably the latter idea is not that their deaths atone for their sins, but that the moral probity of their lives as faithful witnesses is sealed in their martyrdom and is their active participation in the redemption won for them by Christ (1:5b)”; Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation, 229.
Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation, 227.
See Newsom, “Angelic Liturgy,” 296–97.
Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation, 215.
On the importance of transference and redefinition in the interpretation of Revelation, see James H. Charlesworth, “The Apocalypse of John: Its Theology and Impact on Subsequent Apocalypses,” pt. 2 in The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: A Guide to Publications, with Excursuses on Apocalypses, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Metuchen and London: The American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1987), 19–51.
John H. Yoder, The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster, 2d ed., reprint, 1972 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 232.
See, e.g., David L. Barr, “Towards an Ethical Reading of the Apocalypse: Reflections on John’s Use of Power, Violence, and Misogyny. Society of Biblical Literature 1997 Seminar Papers, no. 36 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), 358–73. Cf. also Johns, The Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of John, 185–202.