Biblical Archaeology Review 19:1, January/February 1993
Dead Sea Scrolls Research Council: Fragments

More on the Pierced Messiah Text from Eisenman and Vermes

By Robert H. Eisenman

Few of the recently published Dead Sea Scrolls have generated as much controversy as payment 4Q285, popularly known as the Pierced Messiah text. The debate over its meaning has raged in the pages of this magazine. Now two of the principal scholars in that debate, Robert Eisenman, chair of the department of religious studies at California State University, Long Beach, and Geza Vermes, director of the Forum for Qumran Research at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, continue their discussion of this fascinating text.

Now that everyone has had their say about the so-called Pierced Messiah text,a isn’t it about time I had mine?

The reason I released this text to the press in November 1991 should be seen in the light of what was transpiring then, not hindsight. “Establishment” scholars were insisting there was nothing of interest in the unpublished corpus of Dead Sea Scrolls and nothing of consequence relating to Christian origins in Palestine. I disagreed; but neither Professor [Michael] Wise nor myself considered the version of the text we released a final one, only preliminary. We are, however, glad that this text has now engendered the kind of international debate it has. That was the whole point of the exercise—free and unrestricted debate.

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