As I’ve mentioned on this blog previously one of my areas of interest is the relationship between the Messiah and the Spirit in Second Temple Judaism and nascent Christianity. I met John R. Levison of Seattle Pacific University for lunch a while ago to talk about this subject. He is one of the foremost scholars of Second Temple Pneumatology. At one point in our conversation he suggested that 4Q521 may be worth investigating since it does mention both the Messiah and the S/spirit. I decided to follow his advice.
In this text there is a frequent interplay between “the Lord” (Israel’s God) and the Messiah. It seems that the works of the Lord are the primary focus, yet there is so much that is messianic. In addition to this there is an underlying theme of the renewal of creation.
Fragment 2 begins with the statement that, “…[the hea]vens and the earth will listen to His Messiah…” (Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, p. 412).
The “heavens and earth” (כי הש]מׄים והארץ]) is the summary of the created order. Everything will listen to/obey “his anointed/Messiah” (ישמעו למשיחו). The author goes on to say that no one in the world will stray from the commands of the “holy ones” (קדושים). There is an additional element of the people of God as well. So God’s Messiah reigns and the whole world obeys the holy ones, likely the sanctified remnant of Israel.
The author begins to edify the people of God and the he tells them that the Lord “will consider the pious and call the righteous by name. Over the poor His Spirit (רוחו) will hover and will renew the faithful with His power.” (trans., Vermes, p. 412) This seems to be a parallelism with the “pious” being the “poor” and the “righteous” being the “faithful”. As mentioned above, the creation element reappears with the hovering (תרחף) Spirit, echoing Genesis 1.2 where the Spirit hovers (מְרַחֶ֖פֶת) over the chaotic waters. This part ends with a promise that God “will glorify the pious on the throne of the eternal Kingdom.”
Fragment 2 continues with things that sound very messianic: liberated captives, restoring sight to the blind, straightens the bent, the healing of the wounded, the reviving of the dead (ומתים יחיה), and the bringing of the good news to the poor (ענוים יבשר) (there are echoes of Psalms and Isaiah here). Yet it is hard to differentiate these commonly messianic actions from the work of the Lord. In fact, it seems like the author is still attributing these actions directly to the Lord.
In Fragment 7 the earth and sea are mentioned again, though it is difficult to establish a context. Those who do good before the Lord are mentioned. Another messianic type statement is made about a “Life-Giver” who will “raise the dead of His people” (Vermes, p. 413).
I wish there was more to this document that still existed, but there are mostly just a word or two here and there on the other fragments. We can’t establish much other than that there was an expectation that the Lord would do great things. Some of these things are attributed to Messiah elsewhere and Messiah does receive mention. While I was aiming to find a more direct connection between Messiah and the S/spirit it appears quite loose, yet interesting. The S/spirit hovers over the poor in a way that seems to indicate a recreating, renewing, reorganizing affect. So when the Lord sends his Messiah, when the people of God reign and rule, so the S/spirit will do this action.
Anyone else have any particular insights? Am I missing anything important? I just began looking at this text in the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts book on Logos Software by Marting G. Abegg, Jr., so it is altogether possible that I am overlooking something important.