Biblical Archaeology Review 18:4, July/August 1992
Dead Sea Scrolls Research Council: Fragments

The “Pierced Messiah” Text—An Interpretation Evaporates

Not long after the unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls became accessible last autumn, Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach, disclosed that he had discovered among the hitherto secret manuscripts a small, five-line fragment that has since become known as the Pierced Messiah text.

Eisenman did not reveal his discovery in the usual way, in a scholarly journal supported by the customary apparatus, but by a press release sent to the media. The story was immediately reported in newspapers all over the world. The New York Times headlined the story, “Reference to Execution of Messianic Leader Is Found in Scrolls.” This simply echoed the title of the press release: “California State University Scholar Finds Text Referring to the Execution of a Messianic Leader in the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls.” A London newspaper, the Independent, stated, “According to Robert Eisenman … , the fragment says that the Messiah will be killed. And references to ‘piercings’ in the fifth line of the text suggest that the killing might take the form of a crucifixion.” In short, Eisenman believes that the Dead Sea Scroll sect and the early Christian Church shared the notion of a slain messiah. For Eisenman, this text, “of the most far-reaching significance” (his press release), is “a missing link between [Judaism and Christianity]” (as quoted from the Chicago Tribune). Now, we are told, both Christianity and Judaism shared the concept of a slain messiah.

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