In Luke 7, Jesus gives John the Baptist a list of miracles that he performed as proof that he is the messiah. The source for this list is the Book of Isaiah, chapters 35 and 61. Interestingly, Isaiah 61:1–2 is the passage Jesus reads at the synagogue in Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4. Yet some miracles listed in Luke 7 do not appear in Isaiah (see table below), such as raising the dead.

Raising the dead does appear, however, in the list of miracles in the Dead Sea Scroll called the Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521—see image above). Written approximately 150 years before Luke’s Gospel, this scroll’s list of miracles also draws on Isaiah 35 and 61 as a source.

The Messianic Apocalypse says that the wounded will be healed, the blind will see, the dead will be revived, and the poor will be brought good news. While a messiah figure—Jesus—is the one credited with these miracles in Luke 7, the Lord is the one who will perform them in the Messianic Apocalypse. Similar to Luke 7, the Messianic Apocalypse mentions bringing good news to the poor immediately after saying that the dead will be raised.

The parallels between these two texts do not necessarily indicate that the writer of the Book of Luke had seen the Messianic Apocalypse. More likely, it reflects that the writers of these two texts—and the communities of which they were a part—shared certain interpretive and theological traditions.

Parallels between Luke 7:21–22 and 4Q521 and the parts of Isaiah from which they come.

Isaiah Luke 7 4Q521

cured many

heal the wounded

blind eyes opened (Isaiah 35:5)

blind see

blind see

lame leap (Isaiah 35:6)

lame walk

lepers cleansed

ears of deaf opened (Isaiah 35:5)

deaf hear

dead raised

dead raised

good news to poor (cf. Isaiah 61:1)

good news to poor

good news to poor