Four years ago, I came across an interesting reference in the New Testament to a verse in the Hebrew Bible. At the end of Luke’s narrative of the birth and childhood of Jesus, he writes:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
It’s almost a direct quotation of 1 Sam 2:26. But why would Luke quote this verse here? Why compare the childhood of Jesus to Samuel? The answer to these questions did not come to me until this past semester while taking the Dead Sea Scrolls seminar when my teacher (Dr. Curt Niccum) pointed out a peculiar reference in one of the scrolls.
But before we can get to that scroll reference, a bit of background on the expectation of the messiah in the first century is necessary.
One of the focuses of my Tuesday night Bible class, The Jewish Context of the Bible, was the Essenes. I always write a follow-up post regarding the topic of that week’s discussion that goes deeper than I was able to in class. The follow-up post for the Essenes lesson was The Essenes and the Messianic Banquet (Part 1) and I discovered there was much more than I could write into one post, so I left you hanging. Well, here’s the rest of it. If you haven’t already read the first one, you’ll understand this better if you go back and read it, and also if you listen to the Essenes Audio Lesson.
As we talked about in part one, the idea of the Messianic Banquet was strongly entrenched in the culture of first century Judaism. A feast, banquet, or wedding, was a favorite metaphor of Jesus’, so now let’s compare the Essene Messianic Banquet to the one Jesus talked of.
This week my Tuesday night bible class, The Jewish Context of the Bible, was on the Essenes. You can find the audio at the Prestoncrest Church of Christ website, or on my Audio Lessons page.
One question I got this week after class was regarding the Essene practice of the Messianic Banquet. The idea that a group of religious Jews were practicing a ceremonial feast which is very similar to the Christian Eucharist (Lord’s Supper/Communion) is intriguing. I could tell it caught the imagination of many of the disciples there. More specifically I was asked questions like: How did the practice originate? Did they have a scriptural foundation for it, and if so, where can that be found? What specifically did they do? etc. So I’ve done some further research and below I have presented my findings.