Bible Review 14:5, October 1998

Paul and Qumran

When Paul shuns the “works of the law,” is he referring to the very works commended by the Dead Sea Scroll known as MMT?

By N. T. Wright

Bible Review

The nonacademic controversies1 surrounding the Dead Sea Scroll known as MMT have obscured more important questions about this critical text: What is it about? Where does it belong in Jewish history? And how does it relate (if indeed it does, as many have claimed) to Paul and the New Testament?

MMT is reconstructed from six surviving Qumran fragments (numbered 4Q394-399), none of them complete. Most scholars believe it is a letter, written in the mid-second century B.C.E., from the leader of the Qumran group to the head of a larger group, of which the Qumranites were once a part. The acronym MMT stands for Miqsat Ma‘ase ha-Torah, the “Selection of the Works of the Law,” as the text is referred to in an epilogue.

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