Who Was the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
By Kerry A. Shirts, 1992 [Excerpted]
The Dead Sea Scrolls are documents (thousands of fragments) found in caves in the deserts of Palestine around Jerusalem, during the 1940’s-50’s, written by Jewish sectaries who fled to the wilderness in opposition to the prevailing powers at Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple, approximately 200 B.C. Samuel Sandmal, notes that it is clear the community of Qumran arose because of the dissatisfaction of how the priests were running the Temple. It had divine sanction, they did not.1
The scrolls contain instructions on how to live in order to be the receivers of a new covenant the sect felt was coming. In other words the documents seem to have an apocalyptic orientation. Every book of the Bible is represented except the Book of Esther, as well as many apocryphal books, commentaries on these books with their particular application to the sect (arguably the Essenes), sectarian materials on how to join the sect, etc.
What most puzzles the scholars and historians of antiquity is the “Teacher of Righteousness“. Why? As Geza Vermes notes, “Unfortunately, as the most vital topic of all, the question of the identity of the Teacher of Righteousness, we can be nothing like as clear.”2 The term Teacher of Righteousness is not a scriptural one, though it could be based on the analogy of the term Teacher of Falsehood (cf. Isaiah 9:14-15; Habakkuk 2:18).3 It is one of the great mysteries of identification; great because here was a prophet-figure out of Israel’s long illustrious prophetic heritage that was completely unknown. Here was a prophet whom God had revealed his secrets to. This Teacher of Righteousness according to A. Robert Leaney, was specifically gifted to receive the secrets and mysteries of God […]. He was God’s mouthpiece for the community. He […] founded the Qumran Community.4
This Teacher of Righteousness had enemies, his main antagonist being the “Wicked Priest”. So the question of the identity of such major figures in the lives of the Qumran sect, how those lives were lived, what they said, did, and wrote, thrown upon us with no prior warning, has caused a sensation.
History and Background
Frank Moore Cross notes the easiness in identifying the priestly conflict out of which the dissident Essene party emerged. More than likely the Qumran Community were the Essenes. In the days of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.), the orderly succession of Zadokite High Priests failed. The high priestly office became the prize that Antiochus, the Seleucid overlord, gave to the highest bidder. Rivals for the office emerged, vying for the office which developed into civil war. Antiochus, taking advantage of the confusion and strife carried out his fearful massacres, terminating in the despicable desecration of the Temple, and the Hellenization of Holy Jerusalem.12 This is the time of the uprising of the Maccabees, who led the Jews into their War of Independence, freeing them from their foreign suzerains, and then usurping the office of high priest for themselves. In this way the ancient Zadokite house fell to the illegitimate Hasmonean dynasty. Essene origins are found in this uprising between the priestly houses and their adherents.13
Charles T. Fritsch says the Qumran Community moved out into the wilderness sometime during the reign of John Hyrcanus I.15 He further claims that the writer of 1QpHab is describing a period in Jewish history just before the capture of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. by the Romans. The struggle was between Alexander Janneus or Aristobulus II.16 The profile of Qumran is that of a small settlement in Israelite times occupying the terrace during the eighth and seventh centuries, probably called the city of salt in Joshua 15:62. The site was abandoned for four centuries, until perhaps the reign of John Hyrcanus (135 – 104 B.C.) when it was rebuilt. During Alexander Janneus’ reign buildings were built which served the needs of the Qumran people until an earthquake in 31 B.C.17 Jewish apocalyptic, at Qumran, was centered on the expectation of an eschatalogical event which was to overthrow the universe.18
Clues to Identifying Personalities
Theodor H. Gaster, perhaps the most learned scholar to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls, has noted that the Teacher of Righteousness was the spiritual leader of the community. He was called simply “teacher”, or “right teacher”. However, after reviewing the material and analysis of trying to identify many individuals with this mysterious person, Gaster thinks the Teacher of Righteousness was not an individual, but an office. All sorts of characters have been identified with him as Gaster lists, Onias, Menelaus, Antiochus Epiphanes, Alexander Janneus, John Hyrcanus, Mattathias, the father of Judas Maccabeus – even Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul. Gaster contends the so-called personages are simply past historical situations.19
Onias III was murdered 176 B.C.20 Onias III was a Zadokite, a priest descended from Zadok, King David’s high priest and originator of the high priests of the Jerusalem Temple. Onias III is identified as the Teacher of Righteousness because, as is learned from II Maccabees, he was murdered at the instigation of Menelaus in the sacred grove of Daphne on the outskirts of Antioch.22 Josephus describes the details of how, during a famine, Onias was asked to pray for rain which he did. God heard Onias as he “was a righteous man, and beloved of God.”23 When the people asked for him to pray against their enemies, he prayed that since the people were God’s people, as well as the priests being God’s people, that God would help neither of them in the war against each other, whereupon he was stoned to death.24 Onias is also tied into the Qumran as the community leader in a rather interesting way.
Moslem scholars were convinced that there was a pious community of saints living in caves in the region of Jericho. These people had a portentious message for the human race. They were known as the Ashab al-Kahf wa-l ‘Raqim, “The Companions (often rendered simple ‘people’ or ‘inhabitants’) of the Cave and the inscription.” ( Sura XVIII, 9-10.) These holy men sought refuge in the desert from the wicked and godless community and in expectation felt God would guide them in their life. Hidden temporarily from the knowledge of men, most commentators are agreed that the people of the Cave were the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.25 Raqim, the Arabic name of the locale of the cave, is put in Syria or Palestine, so why bother with Ephesus? Because since the 5th century, Ephesus was the site of the Seven Sleepers.
The hero of the Arabic account is one Tamlikh, whose name traces etymologically through Greek, Iamblichus which appears in Latin as Malchus, while the Arabs call him Tamlikh, Yamlikh, and Namlikh, while Bamlikh is all that remains, reminding us that Huber claimed Iamblichus-Malchus is simply Abimelech, the friend of Jeremiah who slept for seventy or one hundred years.26 Abimilech in turn has long been identified with Onias-Honi the circle drawer.27 Onias, Abimilech, and Jeremiah all fell into century long slumbers. This Onias has been put forth as the leader of the Qumran Community when they were being persecuted by Antiochus Epiphanes. So we have Tamlikh, the leader of the Companions of the caves, identified through Abimilech, with Onias, the leader of the Qumran Community.28
Onias’ tie in with the Seven Sleepers, also reminds us that they were to awake at the dawn of a new age of faith.29 It is said Onias slept from the destruction of the First Temple to the completion of the Second. The parallel with the Seven Sleepers is obvious. The parallel with the Teacher of Righteousness, assuming a Messianic characterization deemed to return again, is also seen.
G.R. Driver notes that though Onias was a righteous man and a Zadokite High Priest, there is no indication that he was a teacher of any sort, let alone a leader of a war-party against a foreign enemy ravaging their country.30 Also, though Onias cannot historically, from the scrolls, anyway, be allowed the title of chief of the Hasidaean party, he can be acclaimed as the leader of the “Sons of Zadok” and Rightful Teacher, though “not a leader of a party with an admitted leader of a party.”31 If the Kittim are identified with the Seleucid Greeks, Onias cannot be the Teacher, due to his being friendly with the Syrian overlords, while the Teacher was a bitter enemy of them.32 And Onias’ murder was not on the day of Atonement as was the murder of the Teacher of Righteousness.
Mattathias, the priest of Jerusalem, of the sons of Joiarib, who dwelt in Modin is the Teacher of Righteousness, according to Greig.35 G.R. Driver notes that Mattathias was High Priest from 40 B.C – 37 B.C.36 Driver notes also that the “Sons of Zadok” were the only ones allowed to have the Priesthood from Ezekiel’s standpoint.37 How a son of Joiarib, not Zadok, could have the priesthood is not discussed by Greig. The “Sons of Zadok” (hass d”q) were “sons of righteousness” (sedeq) or the sons of the righteous one (hassaddŒq). The famous Zadokite high priest, Simon the Just, was (hassaddŒq) which connects him to the Covenanters.38 The covenanters loved to play on the various forms and senses of the root, namely ‘lawfulness’ or ‘righteousness’ (sedeq) and ‘justice’, ‘just measure’ (sed q h).39
Ben Zion Wacholder claims Zadok is the Teacher of Righteousness.40 He notes the importance of the name Zadok in the Qumran writings, and then contends that the Moreh Sedeq seems to be a paranomasia on the name Zadok. Wacholder says Zadok was the only one to have a tomb designated for him, something usually reserved for royalty. He is clearly set apart in the Qumran literature. In the Damascus Document there are many appelatives given him: 6:11 – Teacher (yoreh) of Righteousnes.
These designations clearly applied to the traditional Zadok of David’s reign, which according to Wacholder, demonstrates this Zadok to be a direct descendant of the earlier Zadok of King David’s reign. The “Sons of Zadok” were the children of that Zadok who found the Law of the Lord in the form of the Temple Scroll.42 Yigael Yadin also notes the Temple Scroll was the Lost Torah which is referred to by the Qumranites as “The Book of Hagu”.
The key to understanding the Qumran literature, according to Wacholder is the treatise of Ezekiel 44:15 “And the priests and the Levites and the sons of Zadok who kept charge of my sanctuary, when the sons of Israel strayed from me, shall bring to Me fat and blood.” The sons of Zadok here are the chosen of Israel, called by the name, who will arise in the latter days.45 The distinction of the lineage is clear, and the sons of Zadok are assigned a special role in the temple priesthood. These sons of Zadok are, in the Pesher of the Qumran writing, the legitimate people during the Qumran time, hence uniquely called God’s Chosen.46
The phrase in the scrolls “Until the assumption of office of Zadok” infers that Zadok had discovered the Book of the Law, which allegedly had been sealed in the Ark of the Covenant since the days of Joshua. It is this Zadok who founded the Qumran Community and to whom the titles, “Lawgiver”, “Searcher of the Law”, “staff”, and “sure house”, are given.47 The single word sedeq summarizes the contrast between Jerusalem under the rule of the scoffer and the group that was led by the Teacher of Righteousness in Damascus. The members of the movement are referred to as yodcey sedeq and its leader is the Moreh
or yoreh sedeq, all of which designate Zadok as the founder of the community.48 In fact, this makes the term Beney Sadoq more intelligable, since the sons of Zadok would clearly be the descendants of the Zadok of the Community, not a mystic title or religious term, but actual descendants, sons or grandsons of Zadok, the founder.49
This leader of the Zealots is another interesting candidate for the Teacher of Righteousness. He was the son of Judas the Galilean. He was stoned to death in Sept., A.D. 66, by the followers of the rival leader Eleazar ben Jair, the captain of the Temple. Menahem’s death and his brother’s valient stand at Masada greatly encouraged legends to grow about him being the Messiah. “Is not his name clearly stated in the Bible? (Lam. 1:10)?” Edward Young thought this hypothesis was fascinating but remarked that arguments against it are too strong to entertain it.52 An example of an argument against the late date for a zealot being the Teacher of Righteousness, Young also noted the dating of some scrolls, the Isaiah alone being dated to the second century B.C.53
Perhaps the most famous and debated discussion concerning the Teacher’s identity concerns Jesus and the parallels between the two. Michael Grant says there are similarities between Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness.54 Dupont-Sommer claimed that the Teacher of Righteousness had been crucified! The reference to crucifixion is in the Commentary of Nahum in the scrolls. G. Vermes notes that the Pharisees in Alexander Janneus’ time were crucified by Janneus for plotting against him “in collusion with the Syrian Seleucid King Demetrius Eucaerus, eight hundred Pharisees were condemned by Janneus, to die on the cross.”55
H. H. Rowley took exception with John Allegro’s contention that the Teacher of Righteousness was crucified, as well as that this was a unique event in Israel.57 Allegro identifies the “Lion of Wrath” with Alexander Janneus. This is speculative yet we are reminded that Janneus crucified eight hundred of his enemies, and was nicknamed Thrakidan. The link between Thrakidan and the “Lion of Wrath” is unknown.58 C. Rabin notes that the fragment speaks of hanging men alive, which seems to allude to Janneus executing 800 of his enemies by impaling or crucifying (anastaur sas) them (BJ I, iv.6;Ant.XIII. xiv.2)59
With new fragments coming into public view for the first time in 35 years, again scholars claimed they speak of a “pierced Messiah”. Professor Robert Eisenmann claimed to find a fragment saying the Messiah would be pierced.62
Apparently, the “anointed one” was a fluid concept in the time of Jesus, which didn’t necessarily mean the Messiah.64 A king, for instance, being anointed of God did not mean the king was a royal Messiah, so much as just an anointed king.65 The only person in the entire Old Testament called the Messiah was the pagan King Cyrus, of Persia, who was commissioned of God to allow the Jews to go rebuild their temple in their homeland. The New Testament title, Christ, is derived from the Greek, Christos which is the exact equivilant of the Hebrew, m sŒah, rooted in the idea of “to smear with oil” from, mshach.66 That Cyrus should be seen as a Messiah is clear from the context of the times, according to D.J. Wiseman. “Obviously Cyrus’ actions inspire such feelings [seeing him as the Anointed of Yahweh]. But this attitude meant the hope of a Davidic messiah was given up and a national messiah was changed for a foreign, not a semitic ruler. But the hope of a Davidic messiah was soon revived in the person of Zerubbabel (Z r B bili).67
In the Zohar of the Hebrew Kabbalah it is said that in the testes are gathered all the oil, dignity, and strength of the male from the whole body. This concept of the seed as oil will explain the practice of anointing, infusing oil into, kings i.e. as a begetting, a bestowing of new life, divine life, and is of vital importance for an understanding of the belief that Jesus was not only the king of the Jews, but also divine, the son of God.68
According to Dupont-Sommer, the Wicked Priest attacked and killed the Teacher of Righteousness on the Day of Atonement.69 The expression “to swallow them up” means to kill him. The Wicked Priest swallowed up the Teacher of Righteousness. A Dupont-Sommer then points out that the Teacher of Righteousness is the subject of the verb (h”phŒa’) – “he has appeared” to wreak vengence on his enemies. This is a supernatural apparition of the Teacher of Righteousness.70 He defends his thesis by saying the verb (h”phŒa’) originally signified “to be resplendent” is used several times in the Old Testament to describe the appearances of Yahveh. He also analyzes in detail the Testament of Levi, and claims it’s the first document to specifically proclaim the Teacher of Righteousness as the Messiah.71 Yet interestingly enough, he shows the many differences between the Teacher of Righteousness and Jesus. The two were not the same, though many parallels and similarities caused J.L. Teicher to claim they were one and the same.72 Dupont-Sommer disagreed.
* The Teacher of Righteousness was a priest, a son of Levi; Jesus was not a priest, but “son of David”.
* The Teacher of Righteousness was described as “Messiah of Aaron and Israel”.; Jesus was called only “the Messiah”.
* The Teacher of Righteousness probably lived generally in Judaea.; Jesus was a Galilean and his preaching took place principally on the shores of the Lake of Tiberius.
* The Teacher of Righteousness was a learned master, venerated to the point his followers would not pronounce his name; Jesus was a familiar teacher, whom his disciples and multitudes approached with complete freedom, whose name was neither secret nor mysterious.
* The Teacher of Righteousness was an author; Jesus wrote nothing, but only spoke his sermons.
* The most serious difference is they were separated by a century. The Teacher of Righteousness died in 65-63 B.C. under the Jewish Priest-King Aristobulus II; Jesus died 30 A.D. under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate.73
That Jesus was aware of Qumran is shown by Borge Hjerl-Hansen in a stimulating study of the apocalyptic Matthew 24.75 That the Zealots may have been intimately involved with Qumran, as with Jesus, has been the study of S.G.F. Brandon, which coincides with the above idea of identifying a zealot as the Teacher of Righteousness.76 In fact it’s even been noted that if Jesus and the Teacher of Righteousness are one and the same, the Dead Sea Scrolls may yet demonstrate the very great difficulty for Christianity in that the Teacher of Righteousness was in no way looked upon as divine.
Did Jesus’ contemporaries see him as divine? [He] is not mentioned in any outside non-biblical documents by any contemporaries, Josephus’ account being a later interpolation.77
John the Baptist
Barbara Thiering […] claims the word Babylon in the scrolls is a code name for Rome, which does bring the chronology into Jesus’ day. The most interesting aspect of having the Baptist as the Teacher of Righteousness is that Jesus thus becomes the Wicked Priest by this analysis.79
Herschel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, says one weakness in Theiring’s theory is her dating. Many of the Qumran references to the Teacher of Righteousness are dated 100 years or more before the time of John the Baptist or Jesus.80 He also disagreed with Thiering’s use of what is known as the “Pesher” technique for interpreting scripture. Thiering’s use assumes the Jews used this technique applied to ancient books, and was used on the then new New Testament documents, hence the names in the New Testament are code names. So Jesus did not actually minister or walk where the Gospels say he did, as he was removed from those places, and placed, according to Thiering in areas around Qumran. Thiering notes that Jesus and the Baptist were antagonists and Jesus was glad when he was beheaded, hence Jesus is the Wicked Priest.81 Scholars do, however, admit the tension within the family of Jesus, with his brothers disbelieving him at first and their urging him to accept John’s baptism as the valid way to obtain forgiveness of sins, a discordance Thiering emphasizes.82
James the Just (Brother of Jesus)
Robert Eisenmann is responsible for this interesting personality’s identification with the Teacher of Righteousness.83 Interestingly if his interpretation is correct, this makes Paul the Wicked Priest or perhaps “The Liar” as mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Michael Baigent re-analyzes the dating of the scrolls, something we must always do as we try fitting various pieces of this jigsaw puzzle of identification between scroll personalities and those in history. By identifying various similarities between the Qumran Community and the New Testament, scholars note the very close ties in doctrine, ritual, history, scripture and the economy between the two communities. Of course, Jesus fits the Teacher of Righteousness in many ways, though the differences at this time seem to outweigh those similarities. What has not been noticed so much is how James, Jesus’ brother fits the identity of the Teacher of Righteousness right down to particulars in great detail. By the traditional dating of the scrolls, the main concensus of who the Teacher of Righteousness is has fallen on Jonathan Maccabeus or perhaps his brother.84 By moving the dating of the scrolls forward to the New Testament times and seeing the identification of the Teacher of Righteousness with New Testament personalities, James complies with every attribute of the Teacher of Righteousness!
James was the designated the head of the Jerusalem church. The early church as it appears in Acts is rent by schism from within. Paul was the instigator of this dissention, his chief adversary being James the Just.85 Hence Eisenmann’s identifying Paul with the Liar if not the Wicked Priest himself in the Dead Sea Scrolls.86
As of late, the literature on James being the head of the Jerusalem church as well as his being so righteous as to merit the name James the Righteous, has grown as scholars have re-examined the apocrypha, pseudepigrapha and other non biblical writings.87 As the Teacher of Righteousness is the leader of his community, so is James the Just. As the Teacher of Righteousness is zealous for the law, so is James the Just, he being described that way according to many ancient writers. As the Teacher of Righteousness is killed by his enemy, so is James the Just killed by the Jews, with the High Priest, Ananias taking the lead.88
The Dead Sea Scrolls claim the “Liar” was an adversary of the Teacher, from within the community. The Teacher’s second adversary was from the outside, the Wicked Priest. He conspired to exterminate the “poor”, the name the Qumranites applied to themselves, those zealous for the Law. The parallels between the Wicked Priest and the High Priest Ananias are extremely strong.89
James the Just is also associated with Onias the circle drawer in a rather interesting way. Onias is identified with Honi the Circle Drawer as was seen above. Honi the Circle Drawer also operated as a rainmaker in Aristobulus’ era, the son of Alexander Jannaeus, just prior to Pompey’s storming the Temple in 63 B.C. This Honi, according to Josephus is also called Onias the Just.90 James the Just (notice the parallel with Honi’s cognomen) was also reckoned as one of the primordial rainmakers. The fifth-century historian Epiphanius recalled in The Ascent of James, probably based on a lost work of James, how James is a rainmaker. The text also is full of allusions to ascents and the apocalyptic imagery of rainmaking. This idea of rainmaking, and its connection with the apocalyptic judgement is conspicuous in the Qumran literature as well. The Star Prophecy is combined with the famous apocalyptic imagery in Daniel 7 of the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven.91 The clouds of heaven are the Heavenly Host or all the Kedoshim, i.e. holy ones – the “rain” being the Judgment they bring. 4Q318 also discusses the supernatural aspects of the “Sons of Zadok” or the “Elect of Israel”, who plays a role in the Last Judgment. It’s interesting to note the tie-in with the two twins John and James in the New Testament “Boanerges”/ Sons of Thunder.92 The Messiah himself has the heavens and the earth at his disposal. The Zaddikim were the “Pillars” that upheld the earth; so were the Pillar Apostles such as James (Gal 2:9).93
The Son of Man was to come on the clouds of heaven which were to rain down judgment. Elijah was likewise designated as a primordial rainmaker, as was Honi-Onias the circle-drawer, because of the circles he drew to bring about rain.94 James, too was to bring the rain, both in its mundane sense and eschatalogical sense. Hugh Schonfield’s essential line of thought is that Jesus deliberately imitated the vissicitudes of “Teacher of Righteousness” who was looked upon as a messianic prophet like Moses and identified with “The Man” who in the last times would instruct the upright in knowledge of the most high. This is a direct link between the “Just One” and the “Son of Man” figure. The “Son of Man” of Daniel’s vision who came with the clouds of heaven was inspired by Moses.95 “In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ‘Son of Man’ is Michael, but for that matter so is Melchizedek.”96 As Merrill P. Millar translates the phrase “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings…”97 The reason for this is simple to see, according to Gaster, who notes the eschatalogical doctrines of the Dead Sea Scriptures derive on a popular level from Iranian lore which the Jews adopted during the Persian domination. A major feature of that lore was the ultimate triumph of Right (Asha) over Perversity (Druj). Accordingly, throughout the scrolls, great stress is laid on Righteousness (sedeq); the brotherhood styles itself “the sons [or, elect] of righteousness”, and its opponents as those of perversity (‘awel) – corresponding to the Iranian ashavano and dregvato – and its spiritual mentor, the man who expounds the Torah aright is the “teacher of righteousness”. Since Melchizedek lends itself to the interpretation of “king of righteousness” (melech sedeq) and through a popular misinterpretation of Psalms 110:4 (Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek) – he himself, rather than the priesthood which he served, was deemed to be eternal, hence he takes on the appropriate role of the future messianic king who will establish the dominion of righteousness on the earth.98
Interestingly Melchizedek is also found at Nag Hammadi. “His presence at Qumran could be explained as a prototype for a Zadokite priesthood which was championed there or as part of a conserved tradition. At Qumran he is viewed as a heavenly apocalyptic personage.”99 The Nag Hammadi materials couple Melchizedek with Christ with a strong indication between the two. Jesus and Melchizedek are almost interchangable, as messiahs, bearing an everelasting priesthood, commanders of a righteous legion, celebrants of a personal sacrifice, coming off triumphant after overcoming all100 exactly as Qumran is said to have viewed their own messiah, the Teacher of Righteousness.
In fact, in the new scroll fragments the zodiac apparently was prominant especially the notation of the twins, which is correlated in the name in the scrolls, Thomiah, i.e. Gemini. This in turn relates to the disciple of Jesus Judas Thomas, “Thomas the Twin”, reckoned as the Lord’s brother in the Nag Hammadi.101 Many personalities are thus tied into this. James apparently was considered by the early Christians with a prominance unlike the other followers of Jesus.
The Teacher of Righteousness as an Office
Disgust set in early with some scholars over the lack of unity in identifying the Teacher of Righteousness. Joseph R. Rosenbloom sarcastically recalled many contradictions among scholars’ attempts at identifying the Teacher of Righteousness. If eligability in identifying this person was with his office of High Priest, being killed by an antagonist and being zealous for the law as the scholars maintain, then what is wrong with identifying Anan ben David as the Teacher? Though of Karaite origins (Medieval times), Anan was murdered by the Rabbanites. He was known for his asceticism, which brought one to righteousness and contributed to the redemption and restoration of Israel. To further strengthen this speculation, Anan also had an individual antagonist, Gaon, who could be the Wicked Priest.102 The Karaites have been ignored for the most part as anyone legitimate in rendering a solution to the identity of the Teacher, whereas in fact, the term “Teacher of Righteousness” has been found in later writings, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and later Medieval literature.103 With the apparent confusion and contradictions, some were led to attend to the idea of the Teacher of Righteousness as an office rather than a single individual. This theory is quite attractive according to Theodor H. Gaster, who notes since all sorts of characters have been identified and argued over for this prestigous title, with no one of them fitting all the criteria, “the commentators are merely fitting a stock set of masks upon a stock set of characters, differently identified in different epochs.”104 Samuel Sandmal makes Gaster’s point very well. If we concentrate on individuals, Sandmal thinks 152 B.C. is the crucial year. At this time, Alexandar Balas appointed the Hasmonian Jonathan as High Priest on the death of the High Priest Alcimus. Jonathan was killed by his brother Simon, hence the Wicked Priest would be either Jonathan or Simon.
The Teacher of Righteousness apparently founded the community, who opposed the Wicked Priest, “Liar” or “the Man of the Lie”, or “Scoffer” if he is an individual. “The Teacher of Righteousness”, Sandmal wisely concludes, “could be a title for a succession of leaders after the first Teacher and served out the office.”105 G. R. Driver noted that “once the title of ‘Teacher’ appears without qualification in the Scrolls (Z ix 50) as Jesus is occasionally addressed or described as Teacher, this Greek title has been found on a Jewish ossuary dated in the early part or middle of the 1st century A.D. That nothing is known of it before this time seems to indicate that it may have been a coinage of that century.”106 H.E. Del Medico concludes brisquely that the Teacher was none other than Nehemiah,107 but then goes on to add that the Qaraites called themselves “Masters of the Scriptures” (ba’ale miqra) which they alone could interpret. The word “Master of Righteousness” (m”reh sedek) is used for master, meaning a teacher of the scriptures. “This term ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ corresponds with the term ‘Professor of Law’, with no supernatural connotations.”108 George Wesley Buchanan based his view that the Teacher of Righteousness was an office on the interpretation of Ps. 102:17, which according to Rabbi Isaac meant “With reference to the generation” (Ps. 102:18), they said they had no prophet (NBY’), no priestly teacher of righteousness (WL’KHN MWRH SDQ) and no temple would atone for them. This suggests that the Teacher of Righteousness, like prophet, was an office to be filled by different men at different times.109
We know of at least half a dozen Zadoks have been found in history, all of them engaged in the same type of activity as in the scrolls. It is a commonplace in all the apocryphal writings that two heroes who behave alike become identified in the minds of later generations. Like the Egyptian writings, which the scrolls have a genuine affinity to, these scrolls are wholly taken up in types and images rather than with unique historical events and personalities; we fail to appreciate how ancient texts operate so thoroughly with interchangeable parts, characters and names. It’s hard for us hard-headed, analytical westerners to understand what goes on, and vast amounts have been written demonstrating that! But for the authors of the scrolls it is quite possible for John to be an Elijah, or for the Teacher of Righteousness, a Messiah.110 “In the Syriac Apocalypse of Paul, the apostle is introduced to Enoch, being told when he is asked, “Who is this weeping angel?” “It is Enoch, the teacher of righteousness.”111 This seems to present the Teacher of Righteousness clearly with an office.
The dating of the scrolls
The main problem has been the dating of the scrolls. James C.G. Greig says that the period after 177 B.C. is the era in which events must fit in order to have all events mentioned in the scrolls make sense.112 Solomon A. Birnbaum noted that the War Scroll mentioned the “Kittim of Misrayim” and the “Kittim of Assur”, which referenced in all likelihood to the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. If this were accurate the scroll dates to the post-Alexander empire and before the end of the Seleucids kingdom, i.e. between 323 B.C. and 63 B.C.113 Based on the relationship of the scrolls to the jars they were hidden in and other archaeological evidence, Birnbaum’s conclusion is that the manuscripts “could not have been written – nor, of course, composed – later than the middle of the first century B.C.E.”114 H. M. Segal traces the view that the Kittim were the Ptolemies and Seleucids to 1 Maccabees where the Macedonians are called the Kittim, and to Professor Sukenik’s interpretation that the Seleucid and Ptolmaic Greeks were those mentioned in the scrolls.115 However, A. Dupont-Sommer has the correct interpretation of the Kittim being the Romans, Cf. Daniel 11:30 where LXX renders the term correctly, and Vulgate: Romani. One particular detail stands out which can only apply to the Romans and that is they worshipped their military standards. On Hab 1,16 DSH says “Its interpretation is that they offer sacrifices to their standards and their weapons of war are their religion.” This points only to the Romans as the Roman worship of the signa, a practice not known among the Greeks.116
It might also be added that the picture in the scrolls of the Romans as crafty, treacherous, and cruel oppressors of the peoples of the earth reads like a deliberate protest of the sect against the traditional policy of the Maccabean and Hasmonian princes, Judah, Jonathan, Simeon, and John Hyrcanus. These sought to maintain an alliance with the Romans against their common enemy, the Seleucid Syrians.117
Hugh Schonfield felt the Damascus Document places the Teacher of Righteousness around 176 B.C., which correlates with the “Age of Wrath” mentioned in the scrolls with Antiochus Epiphanes. This is the era of the Teacher of Righteousness as well as when Enoch, and 1 Maccabees were written.118 The discussion of who the Wicked Priest was by A.S. Van Der Woude is concentrated in the era of 150 B.C. to 76 B.C. in which time the Habakkuk Commentary was written.119 K.A. Matthews noted that since the method of dating using the coins, found also at Qumran, is unstable, though most can be safely assigned to the period 150-31 B.C. Following Murphy-O’Connor’s reconstruction of Qumran community life, the Teacher of Righteousness would be a contemporary of Jonathan (160-143 B.C.), thought by some to be the Wicked Priest. The oldest copy of the Rule, as well as the “Manifesto” of 1QS, the hymns of the teacher in 1QH, all of these are at least 150 B.C.120
The war scroll is talking about the struggle of the Jews under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. using internal interpretations.122 Paul Garnet noted that in the tests of carbon-14 dating, paleography, the types of pottery used, and also the temperature test on the leather the scrolls were written on, that all the evidence points to being before A.D. 68, and range from 175 B.C. to A.D. 50.123
John C. Trevor notes that the evidence warranted approaching the search for the Teacher of Righteousness in the era of the Maccabees, when the Greeks were the oppressors.126 William G. Guindon likewise agreed with the assessment that the scrolls, based on carbon-14 dating, analysis of the leather, the coins, etc., all date from pre-Herodian times.127 E.Y. Kutscher notes with internal evidence and what we know of the development of Aramaic and its uses, expressions, etc., that the Genesis Apocryphon was written in the time-frame of 100 B.C. to 100 A.D.128
Yigael Yadin observed that the Hasmonian semi-formal script of Isaiah and the Temple Scroll paleographically date to 125-100 B.C. They were probably not composed any later than the reign of John Hyrcanus I (135-104 B.C.) or the beginning of Alexander Janneus’ reign (103-76 B.C.). “The language displays linguistic features, words, and expressions typical of mishnaic Hebrew, hence the scroll can not have been composed beefore the Hasmonian period.”130 H.H. Rowley noted the divergent claims of dating the scrolls and tagged the responsibility of the medieval argument for the dating of the scrolls to Solomon Zeitlin who identified many characteristics of the Karaites with Qumran.131
Barbara Thiering’s contention, since she identifies John the Baptist with the Teacher of Righteousness is that J. T. Milik went beyond the evidence in claiming that paleographically, the personal script of the Teacher of Righteousness which Milik used, can not be used firmly, since it is personal writing style that causes difficulties.134 She also contends that in dating the scrolls paleographically, using expressions and idioms, its important to remember the community used special code words. For instance, Babylon, which was used to denote the Babylon of history, 600 B.C., the Jews last destruction the Qumranites knew of. But Babylon also was used as a code name in the New Testament, especially in Revelations. The scrolls use Babylon to mean Rome, as does the New Testament, hence Thiering called for a new look, and identified John the Baptist with the Teacher of Righteousness.135 James H. Charlesworth notes that Thiering’s view is completely unoriginal and actually a 200 year old argument, with nothing new and original.138
A much more serious attempt at bringing light to the dating of the scrolls is brought by Robert Eisenmann who contends that James the Just, the brother of Jesus is the Teacher of Righteousness.
Now, since new scroll fragments are being released, Benedict T. Viviano has noted they contain “Beatitudes” very similar to Jesus’ beatitudes, both sets being complementary which sharpens our focus on the New Testament context, never before available.140 Michael O. Wise and James D. Tabor have translated a fragment describing a messianic figure in the scrolls who will be resurrected and bring about the resurrection for all. This description clearly fits the biblical Jesus.141
The debate over a “pierced Messiah” is growing as the argument is over the translation of one crucial line in a fragment, bringing the scrolls ever closer to the New Testament.142 And now the scrolls are bringing new meaning to Jesus’s baptism and the symbol of the dove at that event that can only be described as incredible.143 The scrolls are illuminating the New Testament Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as every one of the Gospels.144