Important Jewish Manuscript Older Than Gospels

From January 1, 1911

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS: Thought by Dr. Solomon Schechter to Tell of the Beliefs of a Band of Jews Who Broke Away from the Older Body About 290 B. C. — Dr. G. Margoliouth Dates It About 70 A. D. (PDF)

This Hebrew text was discovered in the genizah (storeroom) of an ancient synagogue in Cairo, but experts couldn’t agree on what it means:

In Hebrew learning Dr. Schechter has certainly no superior. With infinite patience and with that devotion that scholars know he sought the long-hidden manuscripts under the old synagogue at Cairo and deciphered and published them.

In this instance, however, the interpretation he puts on one document of his remarkable find is questioned by another great authority, Dr. G. Margoliouth of the British Museum, who suggests a meaning for the manuscript that is of startling interest.

The fragment just published by Dr. Schechter is called by him a Document of the Jewish Sectaries. He sees in it an extraordinarily interesting account of the beliefs of a band of Jews who broke away from the main religious body about 290 Bc. C., went to Damascus and founded a cult of their own, based closely on the Jewish Law, but with an additional belief in some sort of Messiah.

Dr. Margoliouth, on the other hand, finds an entirely different meaning. To him the document is of much later date, probably of the second half of the first century of the Christian era. To his min there are two Messiahs, not one, spoken of, the first a forerunner and the second a unique “Teacher of Righteousness” — the “Only Teacher.”

He identifies the first Messiah with John the Baptists and the “Teacher of Righteousness” with Jesus himself.

The University of Manchester has scanned 15,000 of the fragments found in the genizah, and you can browse them online. More information is also available through the Friedberg Genizah Project.

Possibly related articles:

Leave a comment

Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Religion

Leave a Reply