Tag Archives: Qumran

Tabor on Qumran Toilets

I was actually going to title this “Tabor on Toilets” but I thought that would be too imprecise.  Anyway, James has a post at the ASOR blog worth looking at:

This paper explores the complex and shifting dynamics of comparing texts with texts, texts with “sites,” and sites with themselves, but without texts. I use the term “sites” loosely to refer to the material or archaeological evidence that may or may not be related to a given text from antiquity. I see this as an extension of Jonathan Z. Smith’s interest and fascination with  “comparisons” so evident in much of his work over the past three decades.  But more particularly I have in mind the Louis H. Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, delivered at the University of London in 1988, subsequently published as Divine Drudgery.


Akkadian Commentaries and Hebrew Exegesis

New in Dead Sea Discoveries– Akkadian Commentaries from Ancient Mesopotamia and Their Relation to Early Hebrew Exegesis, by Uri Gabbay.

Commentaries from ancient Mesopotamia, written in cuneiform script and in the Akkadian language, are known from the eighth century B.C.E. up to the last centuries B.C.E. The article investigates the authority of the texts about which commentaries are known, often considered canonical and divine, vis-à-vis the authority of the commentaries themselves, considered oral tradition transmitted by scholars. This is comparable to the authority of the biblical texts that serve as the base for early Jewish interpretations, and to the authority of the commentaries containing these interpretations, both in Qumran and in early Rabbinic literature. The article also surveys and analyzes various hermeneutical terms and techniques found in ancient Mesopotamian commentaries in relation to early Jewish commentaries. In addition, the article discusses the pesharim from Qumran in their divinatory context, in light of omen interpretations from Mesopotamia which use the noun pišru.

Sounds fun.

A More Perfect Torah: At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll

With thanks to James Spinti for telling me about this forthcoming volume.

The historical-critical method that characterizes academic biblical studies too often remains separate from approaches that stress the history of interpretation, which are employed more frequently in the area of Second Temple or Dead Sea Scrolls research. Inaugurating the new Eisenbrauns series, Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible, A More Perfect Torah explores a series of test-cases where the two methods mutually reinforce one another. The volume brings together two studies that each investigate the relation between the compositional history of the biblical text and its reception history at Qumran and in rabbinic literature.

It’s a shorter book (at 120 pages) and that’s just the sort of thing TM Law has been discussing just today.  Given the fact that my own books are on the shorter end of the spectrum (by design) I’m biased- but I think that books should only be as long as they need to be to adequately cover the subject succinctly.  Any more than that is just pomposity.

Lawrence Schiffman Interviewed in Connection With the Times Square DSS Exhibit

And Larry has posted it here.

When the Discovery Times Square Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was running, I was asked some personal and scholarly questions about the Dead Sea Scrolls for the museum’s blog:

When did you first become interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

I began working on the Dead Sea Scrolls when I wrote my senior honors paper at Brandeis University in 1970. Then, when I was looking for a topic for my doctoral dissertation that would combine my fields of interest in Bible and rabbinic literature, I realized that the Dead Sea Scrolls were a perfect area of research for me. Of course, at that time only about one-quarter of the material was available, but there was still a lot of work to do.

Over your decades of study, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls?

For me the most surprising thing was to realize that there was an entire library of texts that somehow didn’t enter the mainstream of Jewish literature and thought throughout the ages but that had been part of Jewish culture in Second Temple times, and which did in fact have important influences on Judaism and Christianity. It was amazing to learn how much could be learned from these texts about the history of Judaism and background of Christianity.


Qumran Focus Month at ASOR is Over

And it was a very, very good series.  Here’s the wrap up.  I appreciate Jack Sasson mentioning it on Agade because I had forgotten to check in on it.

It has been a successful month here on the ASOR blog, with posts by many leading scholars on all aspects of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls! We have had seven posts covering everything from the archaeological evidence for a sect inhabiting the site of Qumran, to translations and interpretations of portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to evidence for changes in scripture over time. In case you missed any of them, the posts in order are:

Go on over to ASOR to see them all handily located in one super-post.

The Latest in the ASOR Dead Sea Scrolls Series

This one’s on the question of resurrection in the scrolls.

An old problem in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been the question of whether or not resurrection had gained any traction among the Jews of Qumran.

Nice essay (but what’s with the ‘model pose’ head shot of the essay’s author?  Must scholars now get a professional done photograph to go along with their essays and book jackets?  This is most depressing for those of us who have a face for radio- and I for one don’t think it’s fair!)

New on the ASOR Blog for Qumran Month- Get Fuzzy: The Elusive Rewriters of Scripture

It’s a neat essay by Molly Zahn and you ought to read it.

When Geza Vermes first coined the term “Rewritten Bible” a half-century ago, I suspect he did not have any idea of the impact that term would make in Qumran studies. I also suspect that the phenomenon to which he applied the term seemed to him clearly defined and easily recognizable. It certainly has to me for much of the time since I first encountered the book of Jubilees and the Temple Scroll, nearly fifteen years ago in Bernard Levinson’s seminar on Scripture and Interpretation at the University of Minnesota. Rewritten Bible, for me, was simply a biblical text that had been revised according to a later interpreter’s own agenda; as Vermes put it, “In order to anticipate questions, and to solve problems in advance, the midrashist inserts haggadic development into the biblical narrative—an exegetical process which is probably as ancient as scriptural interpretation itself.”

That’s a tease, read the rest.

James Charlesworth’s ASOR Essay

Has been posted.

The Thanksgiving Hymns are the creation of poets who became the Community of priests who left the Temple (or were cast out, as indicated by this collection); they eventually settled at Qumran. The poetry rivals, sometimes, the heights obtained by the stellar poets who bequeathed us the Psalter (the Davidic Psalms). In my judgment, the Thanksgiving Hymns are the mystical ruby in the breastplate of the Qumranic priests.

Read the rest.  ASOR is doing a great job with the series.

The Dead Sea Scrolls for a New Millenium

In The Dead Sea Scrolls for a New Millennium, Phillip R. Callaway presents the most comprehensive survey of the Dead Sea Scrolls since the final publication of the cave 4 fragments. The chapters on editing the Scrolls, on the caves, on the scrolls, and on Khirbet Qumran present the evidence without getting bogged down in older controversies. Callaway discusses the so-called yahad ostracon, as well as a fascinating writing exercise, and the supposed Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

Philip Davies writes of it-

Phillip Callaway takes his readers through the stories of discovery, conveying with a cool and authoritative touch the major theories and issues that the Scrolls have engendered, and leading us into the heart of the scrolls themselves. His account is readable, reliable, undogmatic, up-to-date, and strongly recommended for students and non-specialists alike.

Sounds very intriguing.  And since it isn’t from Brill, you won’t have to sacrifice a goat to the banker gods to get one.

James VanderKam on the Scrolls and the Bible

In writing The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible, my intent was to take up familiar topics and questions within the broad area of the scrolls and the Bible, update the discussions about them, and press them forward. What is the full range of the evidence on the topics, now that all the scrolls have been available for some time? What contributions have the texts made to biblical studies, and what questions do they raise? While the topics may be familiar, my treatment of them contains new reflections.

He’s got more to say about it too.

Qumran aktuell: Texte und Themen der Schriften vom Toten Meer

Qumeran's caves

Available from Amazon,

Über sechzig Jahre nach der Entdeckung der Handschriften vom Toten Meer in der Nähe von Chirbet Qumran liegt das gesamte Textkorpus in kritischen Texteditionen vor. Der Textfund von Qumran gilt als der bislang bedeutendste im Umfeld von antikem Judentum und frühem Christentum. Es ist also an der Zeit, vor dem Hintergrund einer Gesamtschau der Texte und den in jüngerer Zeit immer stärker hervortretenden Forschungshypothesen zu Qumran erste Summen zu ziehen und vorläufige Ergebnisse festzuhalten. Dieser Aufgabe stellen sich die sieben Beiträge des vorliegenden Sammelbandes. Alle Abhandlungen eint ihr Ausgangspunkt bei den Quellentexten, die sie im Kontext neuerer Forschungsmeinungen und -hypothesen darstellen und diskutieren.

At Last. At Long Last. The Qumran Biblical Manuscripts

I’ve been talking about this for years and it came out a few months back and now I’ve finally got a copy.  This, of course, is the Qumran Biblical Scrolls.

I’ve downloaded it and installed it and opened it up and here’s a screenshot of one of the Jeremiah scrolls:

So, yeah!  And I bet the Logos people are glad I have it as well, so I don’t complain anymore about how long it took to get published.  Not that I would complain…

But of course the chief reason to have it is so that it can be consulted when textual questions arise instead of having to depend on the apparatus of BHQ (which is only available in 5 volumes anyway).

Early Judaism and Modern Culture: Literature and Theology

Eerdmans have sent along a new volume titled Early Judaism and Modern Culture: Literature and Theology, by Gerbern S. Oegema for review.

Gerbern Oegema has long been drawn to the noncanonical literature of early Judaism — literature written between 300 b.c.e. and 200 c.e. These works, many of which have been lost, forgotten, and rediscovered, are now being studied with ever-increasing enthusiasm by scholars and students alike.  Although much recent attention has been given to the literary and historical merits of the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and other deutero- and extracanonical writings, Early Judaism and Modern Culture shows that it is also important to study these literary works from a theological perspective. To that end, Oegema considers the reception of early Jewish writings throughout history and identifies their theological contributions to many issues of perennial importance: ethics, politics, gender relations, interreligious dialogue, and more. Oegema demonstrates decisively that these books — more than merely objects of academic curiosity — have real theological and cultural relevance for churches, synagogues, and society at large today.

His is a vibrantly written treatment of the non-canonical literature of early Judaism.  Most importantly, he describes that literature’s influence on the Bible, Jewish philosophy, gender, ethics, interreligious dialogue, politics, and the early church (among other things).  Consequently, he also views these materials which were excluded from the canon but still read and preserved to be important even now.

The works he considers include apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, and Qumran texts.  So, essentially, what he does is to harvest texts from early Judaism and use them as sources for our understanding of both early Judaism and modern culture: ancient and modern theology.  The publisher’s blurb has it right.

It will remain up to the reader, though, to determine if those ancient texts really are meaningful today.  Oegema’s guided tour into the land of early Judaism is well worth its tiny price.  Like any good guide, it’s frequently not the historical information per se that’s so intriguing, it’s the little asides.


Norman Golb on the NatGeo Dead Sea Scrolls Special

Remains of living quarters at Qumran.

Vi avevo detto del documentario del National Geographic sulla paternità dei Rotoli di Qumran. Risponde Norman Golb con diverse criticità. Ho scritto più volte, ma lo ripeto per la cronaca, che Golb è uno dei pochi studiosi convinti che i manoscritti siano stati completati a Gerusalemme e successivamente portati a Qumran.

The PDF of Golb’s rejoinder can be accessed here.

I can’t wait to see how Bob responds.

ASOR in the News

Caves at Qumran

Good news for the Indiana Jones set: since 1900, the American Schools of Oriental Research has played a pivotal role in archaeological discoveries. Now the BU-headquartered nonprofit, which is dedicated to the archaeology of the Near East, is opening its archive to the public for the first time. Included in its collections are diaries of archaeologists; rare photos of various excavations, including Qumran in the West Bank, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; and miscellanea, like a reproduction of an 1873 sultan’s permit for a dig in Palestine.  The American Schools of Oriental Research archive is open to the public, by appointment, at its headquarters, 656 Beacon St., Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access is free. Those interested should contact archivist Cynthia Rufo at 617-358-4428 or at asorarch@bu.edu. A description of the collections can be found here.

The ‘Indiana Jones set’?  Really?  Indiana Jones is a looter who never digs anything and who doesn’t document anything either, so I’m not so sure he’s either model nor icon.  That said, it’s great that ASOR is opening its archives for actual archaeologists (and not ‘naked’ ones) and the interested public.  If you’re in Boston, drop by!   And be sure to say hi to Andy Vaughn.