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Approaches to Scripture in the Fourth Gospel and the Qumran Pesharim

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Many scholars have noticed similarities between the Fourth Gospel and the Qumran pesharim in their approaches to Scripture. However, comparisons between the two corpora are usually made in passing, often do not offer careful definition of what constitutes the pesher genre, and tend to isolate certain features for comparison. This essay begins from the conviction that it is important to carefully define the pesher genre before comparing it with the Fourth Gospel. After developing a definition based primarily on form and content, a broad-based comparison with the Fourth Gospel is carried out, giving attention to some previously overlooked similarities. In particular, it is demonstrated that John 6:31-58 is perhaps more pesher-like than any other passage in the Fourth Gospel. However, it is concluded that, while there are impressive similarities between the Fourth Gospel's exegesis and that of the pesharim, the differences are sufficient that it is not justifiable to speak of the former as pesher exegesis.


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