I had the opportunity this week to meet with Hanan Eshel, an archaeologist and leading expert on the scrolls from Bar-Ilhan University in Israel. He attended the opening of the exhibit this week in Akron.
Eshel pointed out, for example, that in Chapter 22 of Genesis, God tells Abraham to take ``Isaac your son'' and offer him up as a sacrifice. That is what most of us read when we study Genesis.
But in one of the scroll fragments in the exhibit, God appears to be calling Abraham not to hurt ``Isaac my son'' at the moment before the sacrifice is to be carried out.
``Is Isaac being called the son of God?'' Eshel asked. ``Is God saying, `Don't hurt Isaac, MY son?' If so, it's outstanding.''
Such an interpretation would strengthen the connection between Isaac and Jesus.
The scrolls were composed from the second century B.C. to A.D. 68. Most predated the life of Jesus. Eshel said that ideas from the scrolls appear in the teachings of Jesus and St. Paul.
``The influence on Jesus was not direct,'' he said. ``But Paul was quoting the scrolls.''
Myself, I doubt that Paul can be shown to be quoting any of the nonbiblical Dead Sea Scrolls and I wonder if that's what Eshel was saying or if there's a misunderstanding somewhere. It is true, though, that sometimes the Scrolls are a useful backdrop to Paul's thought.
UPDATE: Stephen Goranson comments on the g-Megillot list.