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Judaism derived from the Scriptures its understanding of God and of the world, as well as of God’s plans

Judaism derived from the Scriptures its understanding of God and of the world, as well as of God’s plans

What distinguishes early Christianity from all these other currents is the conviction that the eschatological prophetic promises are no longer considered simply as an object of future hope, since their fulfilment had already begun in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. It is about him that the Jewish Scriptures speak, in their whole extension, and it is in light of him that they are to be fully comprehended.

It does not apply Scripture to the present, but explains and comments on the Christ event in the light of Scripture

12. The clearest expression of how Jesus’ contemporaries interpreted the Scriptures are given in the Dead Sea Scrolls, manuscripts copied between the second century B.C. and 60 A.D., and so are therefore close to Jesus’ ministry and the formation of the Gospels. However, these documents express only one aspect of the Jewish tradition; they come from within a particular current and do not represent the whole tradition.

The earliest rabbinic attestation of exegetical method based on Old Testament texts, is a series of seven “rules” traditionally attributed to Rabbi Hillel (d. 10 A.D.). Irrespective of whether this attribution is well founded or not, these seven middoth certainly represent a codification of contemporary methods of argument from Scripture, in particular for deducing rules of conduct.

Another method of using Scripture can be seen in first century historical writings, particularly Josephus, but it had already been employed in the Old Testament itself. It consists of using biblical terms to describe events in order to illuminate their meaning. Thus, the return from the Babylonian Exile is described in terms that evoke the liberation from Egyptian oppression at the time of the Exodus (Is -21). The final restoration of Zion is represented as a new Eden. 24 At Qumran, a similar technique was widely used.

13. With regard to form and method, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, presents striking resemblances to Qumran in its use of Scripture. The formulae for introducing quotations are often the same, for example: “thus it is written”, “as it is written”, “in conformity with what was said”. The similarity in scriptural usage derives from an outlook common to both the Qumran community and that of the New Testament. Both were eschatological communities that saw biblical prophecies being fulfilled in their own time, in a manner surpassing the expectation and understanding of the Prophets who had originally spoken them. Both were convinced that the full understanding of the prophecies had been revealed to their founder and transmitted by him, “the Teacher of Righteousness” at Qumran, Jesus for Christians.

Certain texts – for example the pesher of Habakkuk – are an extended commentary on a biblical text, which is then applied, verse by verse, to a contemporary situation; others are collections of texts dealing with the same theme, for example, 11 Q Melchisedeq on the messianic era

Exactly as in the Dead Sea Scrolls, certain biblical texts are used in the New Testament in their literal and historical sense, while others are applied in a more or less forced manner, to the contemporary situation. Scripture was understood as containing the very words of God. Some interpretations, in both texts, take a word and separate it from its context and original meaning to give it a significance that does not correspond to the principles of modern exegesis. An important difference, however, should be noted. In the Qumran texts, the point of departure is Scripture. In the New Testament, in contrast, the point of departure is the Christ event. The only points in common are the techniques employed, often with a striking similarity, as in Rm 10:5-13 and in the Letter to the Hebrews. 25

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