Collins, John J. and Craig A. Evans (eds). Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006. (Amazon.com)
This little book provides a big introduction to subjects related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins. It includes contributions from Martin G. Abegg Jr., Barry D. Smith, R. Gleen Wooden, Jonathan R. Wilson, and of course, John J. Collins and Craig A. Evans who edited the volume. It is part of the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology which has produced individual volumes from the like of I. Howard Marshall and James D.G. Dunn.
The subjects discussed are from a wide array. Collins examines messianic figures and expectations in the essays “A Messiah before Jesus?” and “An Esssene Messiah? Comments on Israel Knohl, The Messiah before Jesus.” Evan’s contribution compares and contrasts John the Baptist, Jesus, and Qumran in “Jesus, John, and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Assessing Typologies of Restoration.” Martin G. Abegg Jr. addresses “Paul and James on the Law in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls” which should contribute to an ongoing discussion of the tension between these two authors. Barry D. Smith’s article is “‘Spirit of Holiness’ as Eschatological Principle of Obedience”. R. Glenn Wooden’s is “Guided by God: Divine Aid in Interpretation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament”. The volume ends with Jonathan R. Wilson’s “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Theology” and a response from John J. Collins titled “Apocalyptic Theology and the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Response to Jonathan Wilson”.
Overall we see essays that will provide the reader with a better understanding of messianic expectations, the role of the Law and Scripture, Pneumatology, eschatology, and how this all relates to Christian theology. It is a fine book with quality essay, yet it remains small and simple enough to function as a great “toe in the water” introduction to this every growing area of study.