Qumran and John's Prologue

Continuing our Discussion on John’s Prologue from last week, I want to highlight a few of the Palestinean sources of John’s language. Althought this is not involved in the translation of the Prologue, at least directly, it is important to understanding the Logos of John.

A. Qumran
1. 1QH 6.17

A source of light shall become an eternal ever-flowing fountain, and in its bright flames all the sons of iniquity shall be consumed; a fire to devour all sinful men in utter destruction.

Connection to John: John is the Gospel of Light –

Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. (John 1:4 NLT)

Which is also a connection to the Old Testament:

For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. (Psalms 36:9 NLT)

2. 1QM 13.9-10

You have created us for yourself, , that we may be an everlasting people. You have decreed for us a destiny of light, according to your truth. And the Prince of light you have appointed from ancient times to come to our support; , and all the spirits of truth are under his dominion.

Christ is the Light from God.

3. 1QM 13.14-16

the day of battle from ancient times… of truth and to destroy iniquity, to bring darkness low and to magnify light…to stand forever, and to destroy all the sons of darkness.

4. 1QS 3.19

Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, but those born of falsehood spring from a source of darkness.

From the source of light are those born of truth, whereas from the source of darkness are those born of falsehood.

From John:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12 NLT)

7. 1QS 3.20-21

All the children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of light and walks in the ways of light, but all the children of falsehood are ruled by the angel of darkness and walk in the ways of darkness.

8. 1QS 3.25-26

For it is He (i.e., God) who created the spirits of light and darkness and founded every action on them and established every upon their ways.

9. 1QS 11.5

From the source of His righteousness is my justification, and from His marvelous mysteries is the light in my heart

B. The metaphors of light and darkness also occur in Palestinian Jewish writings that are non-sectarian in origin, fragments of copies of which were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls

1. 1 Enoch 92.4-5;

And he (the great Holy One) will be gracious to the righteous and give him eternal happiness. And he will give him power so that he shall execute judgment with goodness and righteousness. And he shall walk in eternal light. And sin shall perish in darkness forever, and shall no more then appear from that day for evermore.

2. Testament of Naphtali 2.7, 9-10.

7. As there is a distinction between light and darkness, between seeing and hearing, thus there is a distinction between man and woman….9 Thus my children you exist in accord with order for a good purpose in fear of God; do nothing in a disorderly manner, arrogantly, or at inappropriate time. If you tell the eye to hear, it cannot; so you are unable to perform the works of light while you are in darkness.

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5 Replies to “Qumran and John's Prologue”

  1. Good work, Polycarp. The Scrolls are full of this light/darkness contrast that is so common in the Gospel of John. This motif is crucial for understanding John, and may offer light (pardon the pun) on issues on Johannine sources.

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