The Dead Sea Scroll Entitled “On Resurrection” (4Q521): A Tribute

To My Classmates at Ohio Wesleyan University, by James H. Charlesworth ’62

The Name “Jesus” in First Century CE Aramaic, Jerusalem. Read right to left: Yeshua

After receiving an uplifting honor from OWU, George Conrades, who put the medal around my neck, formerly the president of my fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) and president of the student body his senior year, and then chairman of the Board of Trustees, asked me as he drove me to the Columbus airport: “Jim, what do you find among the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls concerning the belief in a resurrection after death?”

Before I report on my attempts to answer Conrades’ question, I wish to recall some high moments in our time together as undergraduates at OWU. We listened to a series of lectures with penetrating thoughts by the prestigious and great theologians, Paul Tillich and Richard Niebuhr, as well as enjoying the lyrics of Johnny Mathis, and the trumpet of Louis Armstrong. The student fund served us well. The time Tillich spoke in Gray Chapel, and stressed that “God is our ultimate concern,” he was featured on the cover of Time and my dad drove from Miami, Florida, to hear him and also visited his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. As freshmen we had to wear “beenies” and were chased by upperclassmen; some classmates were dunked in the sulfur spring. No one caught me, as I was on the track team, and I had fun tackling slower upperclassmen.

I recall standing with special friends, like George Conrades and Paul Schimmel, at the westside of the steps leading up into Gray Chapel where we were required to attend a service at 10:30 am each weekday. Behind the seats inside is where I infrequently hid during the week of hazing. All of us initiates into fraternities were drained during Hazing Week by Saturday morning. Painting the fire escape of a fraternity with tooth brushes was no fun, especially when it was not yet five am.

Personally, as a freshman from Miami, I founded it challenging to walk in the snow. I had only loafers; one set was white. As I stumbled toward the main campus, I must have looked to many as a visitor from Mars. Thanks to classmates, I some how made it to my class west of the Chapel. Did I ever buy snow boots; I do not recall. I did have heavy dress shoes for inclement weather.

I was proud when a classmate said, “I wish I had one of those.” He was referring to a large and heavy snow coat a relative who lived in the far north had given me. The coat was like a small tent in which I could hide from the wintry blasts of Delaware.

What was so unattractive about those years in Delaware? It was the spread-out campus and the impossibility of dashing, even in good weather, from classes in the observatory or the music building to classes near the football stadium. Advisors did not warn us of the vast distance between classrooms and were oblivious of the “tons” of books we had to trudge. Is that why some classmates, my freshman year, disappeared back into New York? Nightmares appear in forgotten dreams with scenes of freshmen still running uncontrollably from alpha (Stuyvesant Hall) to omega (Slocum Library).

Many students idolized Professor John Priest. He was engaging, clear, and presented captivating lectures on the history of religion – especially India where he had served as a Methodist missionary. He was an early specialist on the Dead Sea Scrolls, my lifetime passion. I remember chairing Priest’s “This is your life.” His parents attended and Gray Chapel was full of admirers and colleagues. Thanks to the skills of the president of our alma mater, OWU continues to boast of a distinguished faculty.

Occasionally, there were student parades in that little hamlet, called Delaware. I remember inviting a fraternity colleague to drive his “grease machine” in the parade. He did so and was not offended by the way I christened his Model T (or was it a Model A?).

Were potential insights collected and did humorous asides reign during those years after the Korean War and before the Vietnam War? Yes, despite the overbearing demands on our time and intellectual energy, those were special years. I remember the dances in the gym, the barbecues on farms or in the fraternity, the laughter in assemblies, and the exuberance during athletic contests. As a freshman, I remember beating an Olympian over the first hurdle; do not ask about the others.

We were all proud of Johnny Gutknecht. Ending a cross country race, he customarily entered the stadium’s track that encompassed the football field and completed a lap before another runner entered the stadium. He was featured running in Russia by the editor of Sports Illustrated, and he was wearing his OWU varsity shirt. He was a very good person; I remember speaking to his classes at the Marine Liberatory in North Carolina and meeting his parents. In fact, when I was a young professor at Duke, there were from OWU, a football coach, the golf coach, the VP for institutional development, and Johnny.

Now, during the 60th reunion (in May 2022) of my class at our alma mater, I noted that too many (but not George, Paul, or Gordon), unintentionally disclosed that youth had evaporated and old age had begun to dominate. Some classmates even needed walking canes or a cart. Johnny was in a previous class; but he would have still arrived first wherever we were going.

The campus is recognizable today, even within the vastly improved areas. I showed Lea, my wife, a brick on the walkway leading to Gray Chapel, but now we could barely read my name.

I remember playing on the varsity tennis team with Richard (“Dick”) Gordon. He owned six tennis rackets; I only one. At Christmas Dick helped me buy a new one. When I returned home to Florida, I gave it to my father. He easily beat me, again.

Yes, girls were on the minds of boys and perhaps men on the thoughts of women; but sex was not yet the definitive dimension in our lives at OWU. Of course, we scandalously held hands in church and assemblies and hugged and kissed outside the women’s dorms before 10:30 pm. At that prescribed moment, all females were required to reenter their dorms.

We may have been the last naïve students, as uncontrolled sex defined too many lives after the early 1960s. In the fraternities, males were absorbed by the pictures in a new magazine, Playboy. During the next decade, the sexual revolution redefined partnerships and even brief acquaintances. The age of innocence became lost in the mists of time. Fortunately, probably because of excesses, meaningful sex remained in many relationships or returned to those who sought to observe high values. Eventually, many Americans came to believe and practice that sex is not primarily for enjoyment; it is the quintessential language of love.

That time was the spring of our lives; we had fun serenading “pinmates” in their dorms, and even getting caught up in “panty raids.” We felt only youthful energy and admired Norman Vincent Peal, an OWU grad and famous for “the art of positive thinking.” For some classmates, such admiration may have been only because we were told, that as an undergrad Peal had led a cow up the stairs inside Gray Chapel. Most of us knew the metaphor about leading a cow up but not down stairs.

Is anytime better than the blissful and innocent days of youth? None of us thought about old age, sickness, and death – except in studying S. Kierkegaard through his pensive publications or Gautama through Indian mysticism. Even our English teachers pointed out to us the background to T.S. Eliot’s poem: datta dayadvam damyata. These three Sanskrit terms, found in the Brihidaranyanka Upanishad, read in Priest’s classes, were highlighted in Eliot’s The Waste Land. For Eliot, the postwar Europe was defined by misperceived giving (datta), sympathizing (dayadvam), and controlling (damyata).

Oh, the joys we obtained through our liberal education at OWU. In required classes, we read virtually all the classics in world literature. In history, we came to know all the most important events and personalities. In science and mathematics, we learned to understand the universe and explore its dimensions from outer space to the most invisible particle. In virtually every class, we were taught the penetrating thoughts of men and women that had previously been in the shadows of knowledge. For all of us, these complex and demanding classes served us well in the future, and for me at Duke Divinity School, Duke University, Edinburgh University, the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, and the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. And this fundamental knowledge remained for all in daily lives and tasks and for me continuously in my teaching at Duke and Princeton.

After these nostalgic reflections, let us return to Conrades’ question. At that time, I could not recall any clear reference in the Dead Sea Scrolls to the concept of resurrection. As he drove, I told him that the Qumran Essenes believed that they, “the Sons of Light,” would be rewarded and receive glory in the future (explained in the Rule of the Community, columns 3 and 4). No reference to being resurrected was included, although that concept had appeared already in Palestinian Judaism, notably in Daniel 12: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (NRSV, 1989).”

Some years after Conrades’ probing question, I found portions of a scroll that contained Essene belief in a resurrection. In honor of Conrades, Paul Schimmel, and Richard Gordon, as well as other classmates, notably Kathe Law (her name at OWU), and Bob Holmes (who picked me up at the airport when I was 17 and had flown north from Miami), I am pleased to share my thoughts on a scroll I have named “On Resurrection.”

The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran Cave I, Found by Bedouins about 1946. Note the flow of letters, from right to left, creating the horizontal right margin, the evidence of darkening on the round edges due to hands holding the leather scroll, the stitching, and the scribal corrections in the margins and above the line. Texts were changing during the period of Early Judaism and Christian Origins. Courtesy of the ASOR.


What can be known about 4Q521, On Resurrection? How is it preserved? Where was it possibly composed? What relation may be found between it and sacra scriptura, broadly defined to include more than the writings collected into “the Jewish or Christian Bible?” What is its fundamental message?

4Q521 denotes numerous fragments of a leather scroll found in Cave 4 at Qumran and numbered 521. It was entitled “4QApocalypse messianique” in the first edition (editio princeps). I have renamed the fragments On Resurrection. Only 16 fragments remain from a larger scroll; no additional copies of On Resurrection are known. Since its discovery, the manuscript has received a considerable amount of attention due to its messianic references which are accompanied by descriptions of various end-time miracles, including the raising of the dead.

The script of manuscript 4Q521 paleographically[i] dates to the first century BCE.[ii] Hebrew is certainly the original language of composition, as there are no indications that 4Q521 is a translation from Greek. The original composition would date to the second century BCE; and that is the same century in which the canonical book of Daniel was composed. The author exclusively uses the word אדני (“Lord”) to refer to God, avoiding the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). None of the features of 4Q521 render a Qumran sectarian origin obvious – yet, such a scenario may be evident in the avoidance of the divine name. Thus, there are no distinctive markers or technical terms which associate the text with the Qumran Community (the Dead Sea Scrolls Community).[iii] It seems likely that 4Q521 was originally composed outside of the Qumran Community, perhaps in Jerusalem, and brought into the Qumran Community, and copied in its scriptorium (a room for copying or composing documents and scrolls). Conceivably, it might have been altered or edited there.

Since Jerusalem and all its scrolls were burned in the conflagration of 70 CE, when the Roman army destroyed almost all of Galilee and Judea, we cannot explore the place of composition of “On Resurrection.” Where was the scroll composed? How long was it and what did the other columns, either lost or extant in only meaningless fragments, express? Was it composed in the Temple or in Jerusalem?[iv]

Translation of 4Q521

The only portion of 4Q521 that I now have in focus is Frg. 2 Col. 2 + Frg. 4, lines 1-15 (do consult the full text and translation in the Princeton Dead Sea Volumes published by Westminster John Know Press. As is customary in research focused on the Dead Sea Scrolls, restorations appear within brackets []. I do not claim originality in offering most of the restorations, as many have been suggested previously.

  1. [For the heav]ens and the earth will obey his Messiah.
  2. [And all w]hich (is) in them will not turn away from the commandments of the Holy Ones.
  3. Be strong, you who are searching for the Lord, in his service.
  4. Will you not find the Lord in this, all who are hoping in their heart?
  5. For the Lord scrutinizes the pious ones and calls the righteous ones by name.
  6. And over the oppressed ones his spirit shall hover and he shall renew the faithful ones by his power.
  7. For he shall glorify the pious ones upon the throne of his everlasting kingdom:
  8. “Setting prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind ones, raising up those who are bo[wed down.]”[v]
  9. To al[l] of them I will adhere [with] the [ho]peful ones. And in his loving kindness y[…].
  10. And the fruit of [a good work wi]ll not be delayed for a man […].
  11. And the Lord shall do glorious things which have not occurred, as he s[poke].
  12. For he shall heal the severely wounded, and he shall give life (to) the dead ones. “He shall bring good news (to) the oppressed ones.”
  13. And [the poor] ones, he shall make ric[h. The ab]andoned ones he shall lead. And the hungry ones, he shall enrich (with food).
  14. And the discerning ones […] and all of them (are) like ho[ly ones …]
  15. […]


Only necessary observations are now considerable in this popular presentation. First, what does the following mean: “[For the heav]ens and the earth will obey his Messiah. [And all w]hich (is) in them will not turn away from the commandments of the Holy Ones? Does it not indicate that cosmically all in the heavens and on the earth will obey God’s Messiah?  Who are meant by all in them will not turn away from the Holy Ones’ commandments? If the Essenes deemed themselves “the Holy Ones” who lived in “the Holy House,” Qumran, where “the Holy Spirit” dwelt, then is this belief original or added by Essenes? Could Essenes in Jerusalem also share the mentality of those at Qumran.

Second, the author insists that is subservient to the Lord God; note: “his Messiah” in line one. The heavens and the earth obey the Lord God’s Messiah but the Messiah is defined by monotheism. He is not a rival to the Lord God; he represents the Lord and yet has cosmic powers.

Third, the Messiah comes to those who have realistic expectation: those “who are searching for the Lord” who are also “all who are hoping in their heart.” The author is focusing on those on the earth, the pious ones who live now on the earth.

Fourth, the Lord God is not distant or in some high heaven. The Lord is near and involved within the lives of those who are “Holy”: “the Lord scrutinizes the pious ones and calls the righteous ones by name.” Moreover “over the oppressed ones his spirit shall hover and he shall renew the faithful ones by his power.”

Fifth, there is more. The Lord promises, through his faithful, that “he shall glorify the pious ones upon the throne of his everlasting kingdom.” He shall also be presently active “setting prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind ones, raising up those who are bo[wed down.]”

Sixth, the author speaks personally from among the pious ones: “I will adhere [with] the [ho]peful ones.” And he is sustained in the present world of suffering by “the Lord’s loving kindness.”

Seventh and ultimately, in this eschatological and apocalyptic document, the Lord promises a blessed future for those who remain hopeful: “For he shall heal the severely wounded, and he shall give life (to) the dead ones. He shall bring good news (to) the oppressed ones. And [the poor] ones, he shall make ric[h. The ab]andoned ones he shall lead. And the hungry ones, he shall enrich (with food).”

Resurrection in 4Q521, in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in Early Jewish Literature

One of the ongoing topics of discussion regarding 4Q521 is its relationship to other accounts of resurrection or revivification of the dead found in early Jewish literature. The only undisputed reference to resurrection in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is in Daniel 12:1–3 (previously quoted). A few places in the Hebrew Bible may refer to the dead being brought back to life. In terms of a literal resurrection, both 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 4 depict Elijah and Elisha respectively bringing deceased children back to life. Rabbis discussed resurrection coming through Elijah. The prophetic visions of Ezekiel 37 and Isaiah 26:13–19 also describe the reanimation of corpses, albeit in the metaphorical context of their respective visions.

Later Jewish texts composed during the Second Temple period (300 BCE to 70 CE or 200 CE) continue to convey a developing conception of resurrection.[vi] Several of these works emphasize resurrection as a reward for the pious and the righteous. 2 Maccabees, perhaps completed in the early first century CE, in its martyrdom account of seven righteous brothers depicts several of these siblings declaring varying beliefs in bodily resurrection while facing certain death (2Mac 7:9, 11, 14, 23; cf. 14:46).[vii] In his otherworldly travels in the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36), the ante-diluvian Enoch envisions the mountain of the dead where various wicked souls await judgment while the souls of the righteous await resurrection (1 Enoch 22; cf.  26–27). The conclusion of the Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 85–90) tersely describes how the deceased sheep of the symbolic vision (i.e., Israel) will be regathered at the end of history, a potential allusion to some sort of resurrection (1En 90:33).[viii] In the Psalms of Solomon the wicked are destined for destruction while the righteous ones who fear God will be raised up for eternal life (PssSol 3:10–12). The Pseudo-Ezekiel text from Qumran also appears to hold resurrection as a postmortem reward for the righteous in its reconfiguration of the “dry bones” vision of Ezekiel 37 (4Q385 frg. 2; 4Q386 frg. 1 cols. 1–2), although it does not include an explicit punishment of the wicked.

In addition to viewing the resurrection of the dead as something reserved for the righteous or Israel alone, other Jewish texts – especially those commonly referred to as “apocalyptic” – express the idea of a universal resurrection preceding God’s final judgment of humanity.[ix] Daniel 12:1–3, for example, professes belief in a double resurrection where some will rise to everlasting life, but others to eternal punishment. A comparable picture is painted in 4 Ezra 7:26–44 in which the arrival of the Messiah results in a resurrection of all the nations prior to God’s final judgment. It is at this judgment that the resurrected will be vetted into either the pit of death and hell or the place of rest and paradise (4Ezra 4:36–38). Additionally, the arrival of the Messiah will be accompanied by “signs” and “wonders” (4Ezra 4:26–27).[x] In a similar vein, 2 Baruch 30 describes how the appearance of the Anointed One will result in the souls of the dead arising from their sleep (2Bar 30:1). While the righteous souls will rejoice in this end-time, the souls of the wicked in contrast will waste away (vv. 4–5). 2 Baruch 49–51 subsequently reveals that the resurrected bodies of these righteous souls will be glorious and transformed by light, while those of the wicked will be more evil and will suffer torment.[xi]

4Q521 contains elements parallel to several of these aforementioned texts. Like the Animal Apocalypse, the Psalms of Solomon, and Pseudo-Ezekiel, 4Q521 appears to view resurrection as a reward for the pious as opposed to a universal event.[xii] Moreover, at no point does 4Q521 depict the raising of the dead accompanied by the destruction or punishment of the wicked.[xiii] However, like 4 Ezra 7 and 2 Baruch 30 and 51, 4Q521 views the raising of the dead as an event accompanying the arrival of the Messiah and other miraculous events. In turn, while 4Q521 never explicitly mentions the end-times, its references to heaven and earth obeying the Messiah and the rejoicing of Israel and the earth seems to indicate the coming of the eschatological age, an event accompanying resurrection in several of the texts surveyed above. Along these lines then, 4Q521 fits within the general schema of texts composed during the Second Temple period which reserve resurrection as a reward for the pious, but also incorporates several features common to more apocalyptic treatments of resurrection, including its association with the coming Messiah and various other extraordinary events. During the same historical period some Jewish inscriptions emphasize resurrection beliefs.[xiv]

Charlesworth and his mother, who dreamed of attending OWU but such was not possible during the Depression. Taken in the Mid 1960s.

Relationship to the New Testament

One particular parallel to 4Q521 which has drawn quite a bit of attention among scholars are the words of Jesus found in Matthew 11:2–5 and Luke 7:18–23 (Q 7:22–23).[xv] In both of the Gospel texts, Jesus responds to the inquiry of disciples of John the Baptizer regarding whether he is the one who is to come (Mt 11:3//Lk 7:19–20). Similar to the thought in fragment 2 of 4Q521, Jesus responds by citing a list of miraculous events, including the blind receiving sight, the bringing of good news to the poor, and the raising of the dead (νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται; Mt 11:5//Lk 7:22).[xvi] Much like the “glorious things” of the Lord presented in 4Q521 fragment 2 column 2 + fragment 4 lines 11–13, the Gospel pericope includes the healing of the sick, the presentation of good news, the uplifting of the poor, and, most notably, the resurrection of the dead. In addition, both 4Q521 and the Gospel pericope list the presentation of good news to the oppressed – a feature taken from Isaiah 61:1 – immediately after their respective references to the raising of the dead. While it is unlikely that the author of this New Testament pericope was acquainted with the actual text of 4Q521, it is clear that both of these texts reflect a common understanding of the future age as a time of extraordinary events,[xvii] including the raising of the dead, and the arrival of a messianic figure.[xviii]


Too many debates are generated by an overinterpretation of the eighth point presented previously. Some scholas claim the Messiah shall accomplish these promises. Other scholars disagree and contend that it is God. For me, the debate misses the point. For some Essenes, maybe the Messiah will accomplish the final acts. For other Essenes, the final acts will be accomplished through the Messiah by God. The theocentric dimensions of the composition must not be lost in a too focused messianology. From the first line of this fragment, the author corrects the misperception of some Jews that the Messiah is what is to be in focus; he corrects that misunderstanding by introducing “the Messiah” as “his Messiah.” God alone is powerful, either indirectly or directly. The faithful do not get lost in politics or human speculations. They are to love “the Lord thy God” with all strengths and intellect. Surely, simillar perception were shared by the author of the Gospel of John.

Such thoughts most likely were widely shared in Galilee and Judea just before the ministry of Jesus from Nazareth. With almost all scholars I laud the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The contextuality the Christological claims by the authors of the New Testament; all of them proclaimed that Jesus from Nazareth was the Messiah, the Christ. By the thirties in the first century, during the proclamations by Peter and Paul Jesus was already known as “Jesus Christ.” Have we not now seen some of the precursors of that astounding proclamation?

George Conrades, Ricard Gordon, and Paul Schimmel – my classmates at OWU – have left their names on buildings at OWU; also, I have examined my name on a red brick in the main walkway. More importantly, we helped shape each other’s lives when we were young and more impressionable. As our teachers taught us in OWU, Shakespeare bequeathed to each of us the hope that “springs eternal.” Shakespeare and the author of 4Q521 would agree; one looked backward to the effectiveness of the Messiah. The other peered forward with God-given hopes.

What is the biggest theological advancement since those yesteryears? It is the perception of oneness of Jews and Christians. As Paul warned in Romans 11-12, God has never forsaken his people, the Jews. For Jews there is the eternal promises in the Torah. For Christian, there is Jesus, fully God and fully human, who, as the ancient traditions and hymns proclaim, has opened up Paradise.

All of us who filled Gray Chapel when we were undergraduates, have experienced that now too few of us from those years long ago are left to hope. Tempus fugit, as we were taught in Latin classes; but then Einstein prodded us to ponder what is time. What is eternity? Once we three, and many others, passed through the halls of OWU never imagining any end and acting as if there were no borders to time, eternity, and place. Now, too faintly, I can hear us singing the enduring strains of our alma mater.

Selected Bibliography

  • Brooke, G. J. “The Wisdom of Matthew’s Beatitudes.” In The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Minneapolis, 2005, pp. 217–34.
  • Charlesworth, J. H. “Prolegomenous Reflections Towards a Taxonomy of Resurrection Texts (1QHa, 1 En, 4Q521, Paul, Luke, the Fourth Gospel, and Psalm 30).” In The Changing Face of Judaism, Christianity, and Other Greco-Roman Religions in Antiquity: Presented to James H. Charlesworth on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, edited by I. H.Henderson and G. S. Oegema. Studien zu den Jüdischen Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit 2; Gütersloh, 2006, pp 237–64.
  • Charlesworth, J. H. Resurrection: The Origin and Future of a Biblical Doctrine. Faith and Scholarship Colloquies Series; New York and London, 2006.
  • Collins, J. J. The Scepter and the Star: Messianism in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, 2010.  Collins, J. J. “The Works of the Messiah.” DSD 1 (1994) 98–112.
  • de Wit, W.-J. “4Q521 and the New Testament.” In Expectations and the Expected One. PhD. Dissertation, University of Utrecht, 2000, pp. 62–81.
  • Elledge, C. D. Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism, 200 BCE–CE 200. Oxford, 2017.
  • Kvalbein, H. “The Wonders of the End-Time Metaphoric Language in 4Q521 and the Interpretation of Matthew 11.5 par.” JSP (1998) 87– 110.
  • Labahn, M. “The Significance of Signs in Luke 7:22–23 in the Light of Isaiah 61 and the Messianic Apocalypse,” in From Prophecy to Testament: The Function of the Old Testament in the New, edited by C. A. Evans (Peabody, 2004) pp. 146–68.
  • Novakovic, L. “4Q521: The Works of the Messiah or the Signs of the Messianic Time?” In Qumran Studies: New Approaches, New Questions, edited by M. T. Davis and B. A. Strawn. Grand Rapids, 2007.
  • Pogor, C. “Deux expressions portant sur la résurrection des morts: Étude de cas sur 4Q521 2 ii 5-8; 12-13 et Mt 11,5 par. Lc 7,22.” In Resurrection of the Dead: Biblical Traditions in Dialogue, edited by G. Van Oyen and T. Shepherd. BETL 249; Leuven, 2012, pp. 345–60.
  • Puech, É. “521. 4QApocalypse messianique.” In Qumrân Grotte 4.XVIII: Textes Hébreux (4Q521–4Q528, 4Q576–4Q579. DJD 25; Oxford, 1998, pp. 1–38, Pls. 1–3.
  • Puech, É. La croyance des Esséniens en la vie future: immortalité résurrection, vie éternelle? Histoire d’une croyance dans le judaïsme ancient. Etudes bibliques 21–22; Paris, 1993.
  • Tabor, J.D. and M. O. Wise, “4Q521 ‘On Resurrection’ and the Synoptic Gospel Tradition: A Preliminary Study,” JSP 10 (1992) 149–62;
  • Wold, B. “Agency and Raising the Dead in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel and 4Q521 2ii.” ZNW (2012) 1–19.
  • Xeravits, G. G. King, Priest, Prophet: Positive Eschatological Protagonists of the Qumran Library. STDJ 47; Leiden, 2003, pp. 98–110.


[i] The term palaeographic is composed to two Greek nouns: palaeo (old) and grapha (handwriting). The noun denotes the dating of ancient scribal handwriting.

[ii] É. Puech, “521. 4QApocalypse messianique,” in Qumrân Grotte 4.XVIII: Textes Hébreux (4Q521–4Q528, 4Q576–4Q579) (DJD 25; Oxford, 1998) pp. 1–38, Pls.1–3. Prior to the editio princeps, Puech published several treatments of the text, including the entire manuscript with French translation in “Une apocalypse mesianique,” RQ 15 (1992) 475–522; see also Puech, La croyance des Esséniens en la vie future: immortalité résurrection, vie éternelle? Histoire d’une croyance dans le judaïsme ancient (Etudes bibliques 21–22; Paris, 1993).

[iii] T. Elgvin associates 4Q521 with a Pharisaic group facing adversity during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (who was opposed to the Pharisees) and thereby a similar compositional milieu as that of the Psalms of Solomon. See “Texts on Messianic Reign from the Hasmonean Period: 4Q521 As Interpretation of Daniel 7,” in The Seleucid and Hasmonean Periods and the Apocalyptic Worldview, edited by L. L. Grabbe, G. Boccaccini, and J. M. Zurawski (LSTS 88; London, 2016) pp. 169–78. Among others skeptical regarding the classification of 4Q521 as Qumran sectarian literature, see R. Bergmeier, “Beobachtungen zu 4Q521 f 2, II, 1-13,” ZDMG 145 (1995) 38–48 (see esp. pp. 44–45); J. J. Collins, “The Works of the Messiah,” DSD 1 (1994) 98–112. 

[iv] Detailed summaries of the history of scholarly analysis of 4Q521 can be found in L. Novakovic, “4Q521: The Works of the Messiah or the Signs of the Messianic Time?” in Qumran Studies: New Approaches, New Questions, edited by M. T. Davis and B. A. Strawn (Grand Rapids, 2007) pp. 208–81 and Å. Justnes, The Time of Salvation: An Analysis of 4QApocrypon of Daniel ar (4Q246), 4QMessianic Apocalypse (4Q521 2), and 4QTime of Righteousness (4Q215a) (New York, 2009) pp. 179–274.

[v] An echo from Ps 146:7–8.

[vi] Josephus attributes belief in the immortality of the soul to both the Pharisees and Essenes (Ant 18.14–20; War 2.154–65) although he does not explain what this means in expansive detail. According to the third-century CE Christian Hippolytus of Rome, the Essenes believed in the dualresurrection of the flesh and the soul (Refutatio 9.22). Both the Pharisees and the Essenes in Josephus are juxtaposed to the Sadducees who do not believe in the immortality of the soul. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs also occasionally depicts one of the sons of Jacob declaring belief in the resurrection (e.g., TBen 10:6–8; TJud 25:1).

[vii] In contrast, the late first-century CE book of 4 Maccabees treats the exact same martyr episode as 2 Maccabees 7, but depicts the brothers acknowledging only the immortality of the soul rather than the bodily resurrection. Similar views of only the immortal soul persisting following death also appear in the Wisdom of Solomon, Philo, and Josephus. See C. D. Elledge, “Resurrection and Immortality in Hellenistic Judaism: Navigating the Conceptual Boundaries,” in Christian Origins and Hellenistic Judaism: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament, edited by S. E. Porter and A. W. Pitts (Leiden, 2012) vol. 2, pp. 101–33.

[viii] Likewise, a few terse references of the revivification of the souls of the pious appear in the Epistle of Enoch (1En 102:4–5; 103:2–4; 104:2– 3). Much like the Book of the Watchers and the Animal Apocalypse, the raising of the dead in the Epistle is reserved only for the righteous and not for sinners. In addition, the Epistle also compares those raised from the dead with the angels. The Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71), which are considerably later than the rest of 1 Enoch (late first century BCE–first century CE), likewise exhibit a notion of resurrection (e.g., 1En 51:1; 58:1–3; 61:12) which seems to be restricted primarily to the righteous. Like the Epistle, the Parables also compare the revived dead to angelic beings. See Charlesworth, “The Date of the Parables of Enoch (1 Enoch 37–71),” Henoch 20 (1998) 93–98; Charlesworth, “Can We Discern the Composition Date of the Parables of Enoch?” in Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables, edited by G. Boccaccini, et al. (Grand Rapids and Cambridge, 2007) pp. 450–68; Charlesworth and D. L. Bock (eds.), Parables of Enoch: A Paradigm Shift (London, 2013).

[ix] Cf. Pseudo-Philo, which also conceives of the resurrection as the precursor to the final judgment. See also LAB 3:10; cf. 22:13, 44:10.

[x] Cf. Psalms of Solomon 17–18 where the arrival of the Messiah also results in good fortune and prosperity for the people alive at that time (see esp. 17:44, 18:6).

[xi] For further reflections, see C. D. Elledge, Resurrection of the Dead in Early Judaism, 200 BCE-CE 200; J. H. Charlesworth, “Prolegomenous Reflections Towards a Taxonomy of Resurrection Texts (1QHa, 1 En, 4Q521, Paul, Luke, the Fourth Gospel, and Psalm 30),” in The Changing Face of Judaism, Christianity, and Other Greco-Roman Religions in Antiquity: Presented to James H. Charlesworth on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, edited by I. H. Henderson and G. S. Oegema (Studien zu den Jüdischen Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit 2; Gütersloh, 2006) pp. 237–64; G. W. E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism and Early Christianity (Cambridge, 2006); Nickelsburg, “Resurrection,” in EncyDSS, 2.764–67; Charlesworth, Resurrection: The Origin and Future of a Biblical Doctrine (Faith and Scholarship Colloquies Series; New York and London, 2006); Charlesworth, “Resurrection,” in Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, edited by G. Wigoder (New York, 1986) pp. 856–57.

[xii] Note especially the emphasis upon the righteous and pious in cols. 2 and 3 of frg. 2, including line 10 of col. 2 which states that the “frui[t of a good work wi]ll not be delayed for a man” which seems to imply that resurrection is one of several rewards gifted to those who live a righteous life.

[xiii] This does not mean that there is no mention of judgment in 4Q521 (cf. frg. 2 col. 1 + frg. 3) but rather that the manuscript, or at least what we possess of it, does not engage the subject in any great detail.

[xiv] See J. Park, Conceptions of Afterlife in Jewish Inscriptions with Special Reference to Pauline Literature (Tübingen, 2000) pp. 164–69; also consult Puech, La Croyance des Essenien en la vie future, pp. 183–99; most importantly, see the lack of references to resurrection and afterlife among the 2648 inscriptions in Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae: A Multi-lingual Corpus of the Inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, 4 vols. (Berlin and New York, 2011–2014) [plus others to be published]. The Jewish inscriptions warn against the removal of bones (nos. 451, 507; cf. 605), wishing the dead peace (no. 392), or claiming that death cannot be reversed or “no one is immortal” which is well known (no. 83).

[xv] See in particular C. Pogor, “Deux expressions portant sur la résurrection des morts: Étude de cas sur 4Q521 2 ii 5-8; 12-13 et Mt 11,5 par. Lc 7,22,” in Resurrection of the Dead: Biblical Traditions in Dialogue, edited by G. van Oyen and T. Shepherd, (BETL 249; Leuven and Walpole,

[xvi] The full sequence in both texts is (1) the blind seeing; (2) the lame walking; (3) those with skin-diseases healed; (4) the deaf hearing; (5) the dead raised; and (6) the poor told the good news. This list is concluded in both texts by Jesus announcing that anyone who is not offended by him is blessed.

[xvii] W.-J. de Wit amasses impressive evidence to suggest that 4Q521 increases the likelihood that Jesus may have understood himself as a messianic figure who performed mighty acts and miracles, because of God’s presence. See W.-J. de Wit, “4Q521 and the New Testament,” in Expectations and the Expected One (PhD. Dissertation, University of Utrecht, 2000) p. 81.

[xviii] For more on the role of the messiah in 4Q521 compared to the New Testament, see É. Puech, “Messianism, Resurrection, and Eschatology at Qumran and in the New Testament,” in The Community of the Renewed Covenant: The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Notre Dame, 1995) pp. 235–56; M. Becker, “4Q521 und die Gesalbten,” RQ 18 (1997) 73–96; A. Chester, Messiah and Exaltation: Jewish Messianic and Visionary Traditions and New Testament Christology (WUNT 207; Tübingen, 2007) esp. pp. 251–54.; M. O. Wise and J. D. Tabor, “The Messiah at Qumran,” BAR 18 (1992) 60–65.