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The Dead Sea Scrolls are an invaluable source of information about Jewish biblical interpretation in antiquity. This volume by preeminent scholars in the field examines central aspects of scriptural interpretation as it was practiced at Qumran and discusses their implications for understanding the biblical tradition. While many of the forms of biblical interpretation found in the Scrolls have parallels elsewhere in Jewish literature, other kinds are original to the Scrolls and were unknown prior to the discovery ...
The Dead Sea Scrolls are an invaluable source of information about Jewish biblical interpretation in antiquity. This volume by preeminent scholars in the field examines central aspects of scriptural interpretation as it was practiced at Qumran and discusses their implications for understanding the biblical tradition. While many of the forms of biblical interpretation found in the Scrolls have parallels elsewhere in Jewish literature, other kinds are original to the Scrolls and were unknown prior to the discovery of the caves. These chapters explore examples of biblical interpretation unique to Qumran, including legal exegesis and the Pesher. Readers will also find discussion of such fascinating subjects as the "rewritten Bible," views on the creation of humanity, the "Pseudo-Ezekiel" texts, the pesharim, and the prophet David.Contributors: Moshe J. Bernstein Shani Berrin Monica Brady George J. Brooke John J. Collins Peter W. Flint Matthias Henze Shlomo A. Koyfman Michael Segal James C. VanderKam
The great number of Qumran scrolls that relate to the Bible have enriched our picture of both the biblical text and biblical interpretation in the late Second Temple period. Numerous biblical manuscripts found in the Dead Sea area (but primarily at Qumran) attest to a textual fluidity in this formative period prior to the destruction of the temple. At the same time, many compositions unknown before the Qumran discoveries offer a window into the various modes and forms of biblical exegesis during this era. Of unique importance is an entire group of works that used the Bible as their basis, in which the authors added, deleted, changed, and reordered material from their source text. This literary genre was labeled "Rewritten Bible" by Vermes, a title that has gained wide acceptance in scholarly discussion of these compositions. The variety of compositions found among the many lists of such works compiled by scholars attests to both the wealth of the compositions as well as the complexity involved in any attempt to classify the various texts.
The recent completion of the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls allows for a reevaluation of and reflection upon many fields within Jewish literature. New texts from Qumran must beintegrated with those already known, so that a new, synthesized picture of Judaism in the Second Temple period will emerge. Primacy must be given to the Bible and its interpretation, an area that occupied much of the literary energies of Jews during this time. The multiplicity of Second Temple works related to the Bible necessitates an extremely nuanced approach to this group of texts. This study will concentrate on one group of compositions from among those works defined as "Rewritten Bible" that closely follow the biblical text but introduce changes into their source. These include Chronicles, the Temple Scroll, Jubilees, the Genesis Apocryphon, Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, and Pseudo-Philo's Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (LAB).
Motivation for Composition
By definition, each of the compositions under discussion in some way revised an earlier work. The phenomenon of rewriting assumes that readers can identify the source text underlying the revision; otherwise, the author/rewriter could have just as easily composed a completely new work. The dependence upon biblical compositions in the process of creating new works is a product of the author's desire to impute authority to his work; by associating his composition with the holiest of texts, the new work is also granted the same stamp of authority. The author's worldview and his interpretation of biblical passages are not presented as revolutionary ideas, created ex nihilo by the writer. The inclusion of this material within the framework of the biblical passages under interpretation transforms the ideas of the later writer into authoritative and accepted beliefs. They are no longer new ideas, but are found in ancient texts alongside accepted notions. Even though these rewritten compositions sometimes contain material contradictory to their biblical sources, their inclusion within the existing framework of the biblical text bestows upon them legitimacy in the eyes of the intended audience. Indeed, the rewritten composition was not composed with the purpose of replacing the biblical texts, for without the Bible itself the rewritten composition loses its legitimacy.
Thus the nature of the relationship between rewritten biblical compositions and their sources constitutes a paradox. On the one hand, the rewritten composition relies upon biblical texts for authority and legitimacy. The author claims that any new information included in the later work already appears in earlier sources. But simultaneously, the insertion of new ideas into the biblical text, ideas that may even contradict the beliefs and concepts of the original biblical authors, undermines the very authority that the rewriter hopes to utilize. The rewritten texts ask the reader to accept the authority of their sources, but to understand those sources according to the rewritten text's interpretation.
"Rewritten Bible" versus Bible
The designation "Rewritten Bible" itself demands attention. This descriptive phrase is composed of two elements: an object, "Bible," qualified by the process of "rewriting." It is impossible to understand the phenomenon described by the combination of the two terms without an appreciation of each in its own right. Before one can begin an investigation of rewriting the "Bible," it is necessary first to address how ancient readers understood this fundamental concept. Advances in the past generation of scholarship have led to an increased appreciation of the role of scribes in the development of biblical texts, the primary catalyst being the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scribes left their marks on two levels, the text of the biblical composition and its literary development. Regarding the former, one observes with respect to the various textual witnesses, including the Masoretic Text, the biblical scrolls from the Dead Sea, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the ancient translations (primarily the Septuagint), that in the late Second Temple period the text of the Bible was still fluid. In almost every verse of the Bible one finds textual variants in the sundry witnesses. These variants certainly include scribal errors, but they also include intentional changes, sometimes for aesthetic reasons, at other times for exegetical purposes, and in some cases tendentious readings. These "intentional" variants are the most important for a comparison with "rewritten" biblical texts, because they exemplify the intervention of scribes in the text of the Bible, even if only on a small scale.
More significantly, when one turns to the literary forms of the books of the Bible, an even greater level of scribal intervention can be observed. In a number of biblical books, the textual witnesses provide evidence not only of textual variation but also of further literary development of the compositions. The following two examples, illustrating this phenomenon, suggest that at times the MT was the earlier of the two editions, and at other times an expanded version. The choice of a specific edition in each witness appears to be arbitrary, the result of a process whose details remain enigmatic.
The book of Jeremiah has been preserved from antiquity in two separate editions, a short edition attested in the LXX and [4QJer.sup.bgd], and a longer version found in the MT and [4QJer.sup.a,c,e]. Some of the differences between the two relate to variants that repeat themselves throughout the book, such as the expansion of personal names, repetition of details from the immediate context, and the repetition of set formulations. In addition to these one finds much longer additions in the later edition, including a thirteen-verse prophecy describing the "offshoot of righteousness" (Jer. 33:14-26). Furthermore, the order of the verses in the two editions differs, in particular regarding the location of the prophecies against the nations (in the MT in chaps. 46-51; in the LXX after 25:13). Although one should not assume that every small difference between the two editions necessarily leads to the conclusion that the shorter edition preserves the earlier reading, all the evidence combined leads to such a conclusion regarding the editions in general. These two editions were included in two different collections of biblical books, the MT and the LXX, and in each the book is labeled "Jeremiah." In the eyes of ancient readers, both versions preserved the same composition, containing the prophecies of and stories surrounding Jeremiah. Thus the definition of the biblical book Jeremiah allowed for a great deal of flexibility regarding the literary form of the composition in question. Both editions were authoritative copies of the same biblical works, despite the major differences between the two.
One can identify the nature of the additional material found in the Samaritan Pentateuch when comparing the Samaritan Pentateuch with the MT version of the Torah. Besides the clearly ideological additions present in certain passages, scholars have identified a number of characteristics of this version, most prominently its "harmonistic" nature. Scrolls which attest to this harmonistic tendency were among those discovered at Qumran and were thus assigned the title "pre-Samaritan" texts. These harmonistic additions were always based upon, or copied from, other passages in the Pentateuch, thus limiting the extent of this intervention on the part of those scribes responsible for these changes. In this case, the MT represents a shorter edition of the Torah, expanded to a longer one in the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Another group of texts found in Cave 4 at Qumran, 4Q364-367, were labeled 4QReworked [Pentateuch.sup.b-e] by Tov and White in their official publication in DJD 13. Most of the fragments of these scrolls preserve a work similar to the text of the Pentateuch, as is known to us from various textual witnesses. New elements of varying length were added into this textual framework, some half a line long, others a line or two, and even one extensive seven-line passage, quoting an expanded version of the Song of Miriam (Exod. 15:21; 4Q365, frgs. 6a col. ii and 6c). Besides these additions there is also evidence of omission of details known from the sundry textual witnesses, as well as differences in the order of verses. Despite the numerous differences between these scrolls and other textual witnesses of the Torah, the vast majority of the material preserved therein offers a text strikingly similar to the Pentateuch, which used a pre-Samaritan text as its source. How should one classify texts that exhibit such similarity to the known versions of the Torah, yet simultaneously attest to hitherto unknown readings and passages? As noted above, the editors of these scrolls assigned them the title "Reworked Pentateuch," and included them in a volume of para-biblical texts, clearly assuming that the changes introduced into these works warranted a new categorization. Tov and Crawford have each suggested that these scrolls should be viewed in contrast to the SP, in which additional material vis-à-vis the MT is present throughout, yet none of it is "new" material created by the scribe. The SP, accepted as an authoritative edition of the Torah, thus represents their boundary of acceptable scribal intervention, past which compositions should be described as "Reworked Pentateuch" and not the Pentateuch itself. As I have previously suggested, the nature of these scrolls, a textual framework similar to known textual witnesses, expanded by new material, in addition to occasional omissions and changes in sequence, finds a close parallel in the textual history of Jeremiah discussed above. In that case the MT edition preserves the textual framework of the LXX, expanded by new material (some very extensive) and altered regarding the sequence. This comparison leads to a conclusion similar to that presented in the case of Jeremiah; the differences between these scrolls and the known textual witnesses are the work of scribes who regularly intervened in their Vorlagen. As Jeremiah was viewed as the same composition regardless of the edition in question, these scrolls should also be viewed as later editions of the text of the Torah.
The term "Bible" itself in the late Second Temple period does not relate to a specific text of the biblical book, but rather to a literary composition. These compositions underwent revision, and as seen above continued the process of literary development. The active intervention of scribes in these texts was accepted in this period and was not viewed as an affront to the sanctity of the text. The text was of secondary importance to the composition itself, and thus scribes allowed themselves the freedom to "improve" these works.
What is the meaning of "Rewritten Bible" if the category "Bible" also includes the editions produced as a result of a process of continual scribal intervention into the biblical text, and further literary development of the compositions? The rewritten texts under discussion, such as Jubilees, also preserve the textual framework of their source, while at the same time introducing changes, either through addition, omission, or rearrangement. But as noted above, the textual evidence available today testifies to the very same phenomena within the final strata of the literary growth of the biblical books, which leads to the question whether a true boundary can be drawn between these two categories, "Bible" and "Rewritten Bible." Was the division between these two genres, as used by modern scholars, recognized in antiquity?
Two examples from biblical collections indicate that ancient readers, or groups, did distinguish between a biblical book and its later rewriting: (1) Chronicles, a rewriting of Samuel and Kings, was included in the same canon as those books. The later work was sufficiently different from its sources to be defined as a new composition. (2) Similarly, the composition preserved in the LXX known as 1 Esdras rewrote parts of Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles, and yet all these compositions exist side by side in the Greek Scriptures. The question of the "biblical" status of these rewritten compositions, or employing somewhat anachronistic terminology, the canonical status of these works, is essentially a sociohistorical issue. In the case of each such work, one can ask whether a certain religious group accepted it as an authoritative work. Alternatively, one can ask whether ancient readers distinguished between the rewritten compositions and their sources on a literary level. The examples of Chronicles and 1 Esdras indicate that such a literary distinction did exist. It is therefore legitimate to investigate the nature of the differences between the two.
I suggest that it is possible to identify a number of criteria unique to rewritten biblical compositions that differ from the scribal phenomena attested in textual witnesses of the Bible. A certain tension exists in the following list. On the one hand, the most significant examples regarding the nature of the relationship between "Bible" and "Rewritten Bible" are those cases in which there is a considerable common basis between the rewritten composition and its source. At the same time, the purpose of this study is to identify those characteristics that distinguish "rewritten" biblical compositions from biblical manuscripts themselves. As a result, the compositions under investigation here are those which make up the boundary between these two groups of texts.
Excerpted from BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION AT QUMRAN Copyright © 2005 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Excerpted by permission.
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|Between Bible and rewritten Bible||10|
|Interpretations of the creation of humanity in the Dead Sea Scrolls||29|
|The interpretation of biblical law in the Dead Sea Scrolls : forms and methods||61|
|Biblical interpretation in the "pseudo-Ezekiel" fragments (4Q383-391) from cave four||88|
|Thematic commentaries on prophetic scriptures||134|
|The prophet David at Qumran||158|
|Psalm 91 in premodern interpretation and at Qumran||168|