A still-unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragment, whose siglum is 4Q246, bears striking similarities to a passage from the annunciation scene in Luke’s Gospel. In the Gospel, God sends the angel Gabriel to announce to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, that she will conceive a son whom she is to call Jesus. In making the announcement, Gabriel says to her:

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High … The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:32, 35).

In the fragment from Qumran, we do not know who is speaking or who is being spoken of, but this is what the fragment says:

“[X] shall be great upon the earth. [O king, all (people) shall] make [peace], and all shall serve [him. He shall be called the son of] the [G]reat [God], and by his name shall he be hailed (as) the Son of God, and they shall call him Son of the Most High.”

In both passages, we are told that he will be “great”; that he will be “called” “Son of the Most High” and “Son of God.” This is the first time that the term “Son of God” has been found in a Palestinian text outside the Bible.

Obviously this text is of extraordinary importance to all New Testament Scholars who want to understand the background of this passage from Luke’s Gospel and the usage of terms like “Most High” (found elsewhere in Luke) and “Son of God” (found throughout the New Testament). Previously some Scholars have insisted that the origin of terms like “Most High” and “Son of the Most High” were to be found in Hellenistic usage outside Palestine and that therefore they relate to later development of Christian doctrine. Now we know that thew terms were part of Christianity’s original Jewish heritage. This unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragment is especially important because Luke’s Gospel, like all the Gospels, has been preserved only in Greek, a language that Jesus probably did not speak. The fragment from the Dead Sea caves, however, is in Aramaic, the language that Jesus almost certainly did speak.

This particular fragment was acquired in 1958 through Kando, the Bethlehem and East Jerusalem antiquities dealer who had served as middleman for the purchase of most of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Bedouin shepherds. The fragment was given for publication to J. T. Milik, a Polish scholar now living in Paris. More than 30 years later, it has still not been published.