The New Jerusalem Scroll from Qumran: A Comprehensive Reconstruction

Article excerpt

The New Jerusalem Scroll from Qumran: A Comprehensive Reconstruction, by Michael Chyutin. JSPSup 25. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press,1997. Pp. 167. $53.50.

This book offers a reconstruction of the "New Jerusalem" scroll from Qumran based on all of the fragments of the text. The study begins with a brief description of the scroll's style and outline, followed by the reconstructed text and translation. Photographs of some of the fragments on which this reconstruction is based are provided in an appendix. Following this reconstruction, Chyutin goes on to discuss the plan's contents. First he examines the temple's architecture, then the ceremonies in the temple, the architecture of the city, and the purpose of the New Jerusalem, The book ends with a comparison of the plan to other ideal Hellenistic cities, and finally a discussion of number mysticism as it relates to the architecture. Along with a brief bibliography and index of ancient sources, he also includes a list of which fragments he used in his reconstruction of the text.

The monograph is at its best when the data are most available. For example, chapter 5 deals with the architecture of the city. Here the manuscript itself is less fragmentary, allowing a more comprehensive view of the city plan as a whole. On the basis of this, Chyutin provides excellent parallels of city plans, especially with regard to domicile arrangements, from the ancient Near East. Particularly helpful for this reviewer were the parallels he discusses from ancient Egyptian work cities. Similarly, his study of domestic architecture brought together examples of domiciles from a variety of areas. The drawings he provides are clear and easy to compare.

The book remains problematic, however, in many respects. First, the author has a tendency to employ circular reasoning. For instance, he reconstructs parts of the text based on other Israelite parallels, then later discusses how this scroll fits into Israelite thought based on those reconstructions. On p. 44 he concludes that the New Jerusalem temple slaughterhouse resembles the one from the Temple Scroll. …