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The Two Ways 4Q473


In Deuteronomy 11:26-28, Moses, speaking as God's intermediary, says to the people “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today.” This metaphor picturing life as a choice between two paths appears in a more elaborated form in the present Dead Sea Scroll. ²p> The Gospels depict Jesus as setting forth a similar metaphor: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

The Qumran writing finds a further analog in the early Christian book known as the Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. The original core of this manual of instruction for the early church may well go back to the first century C.E and thus is nearly as old as our scroll. The Didache treats worship, baptism, fasting, communion, and other topics, but the first section, entitled “The Two Ways,” is a statement of the principles of Christian conduct. Thus the Didache begins with a line immediately reminiscent of our scroll,“There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between the two wavs.”


Frag. 1 2[ . . . ] He is setting [before you a blessing and a curse. These are] t[wo] ways, one goo[d and one evil. If you walk in the good way,] 4He will bless you. But if you walk in the [evil] way, [He will curse you in your going out] Sand in your [ten]ts. He will exterminate you, [smiting you and the prod. uct of your toil with blight 6and mildew, snow, ice, and hai[l . . . ] 7along with all [ . . . ]


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