The ancient Israelite high priest is at the center of Christian theology because Jesus is described as “the great high priest.” The Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that the high priest, the Melchizedek or King of Righteousness, was the expected Messiah who would save his people and make the great atonement.
This article was presented as a public lecture at Brigham Young University on May 9, 2003. Footnotes have been added that refer to places in the writings of Margaret Barker where the topics of this lecture are discussed in greater depth and with extensive documentation. This lecture develops the themes of several of her prior works and presents the essence of her most recent book, The Great High Priest (London: T&T Clark, 2003). Further information about specific topics can be located by consulting the index of persons, places, and subjects or the index of biblical and ancient texts found at the end of that book. The English translations of the ancient texts discussed in this lecture are by the author.