Wisdom Texts from Qumran

Article excerpt

Wisdom Texts from Qumran. By Daniel J. Harrington. The Literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: Routledge, 1996, 117 pp., $16.95 paper.

This work's series is designed as a concise guide to the principal varieties of literature from the Dead Sea Scroll collection. It is intended as a popular presentation for anyone interested in the scrolls, particularly for undergraduate or graduate students in Biblical and Second Temple Jewish studies.

Harrington provides new translations and a thorough analysis of selected Qumran wisdom texts. Although scholars have long recognized the significance of the sapiential tradition of OT and NT studies, this is a rather new item on the agenda of Qumran scrolls research. Harrington collects and offers commentary on some of Qumran's significant wisdom material in light of other wisdom literature from Biblical and extra-Biblical sources.

Along with most scholars, Harrington accepts the Essene hypothesis, yet he correctly notes that it is difficult to conclude what is unique in their theology and practice, given the nature of the library's collection.

After surveying the primary resources of Israel's wisdom tradition (chap. 2), Harrington provides a brief description of Biblical wisdom texts and targums from Qumran (chap. 3). The 11 caves around Qumran yielded copies of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Sirach. He provides exposition on two passages out of a targum of Job from Cave 11 (11QtgJob). He devotes chap. 4 to wisdom psalms from the Cave 11 Psalm scroll (11Q psa =11Q5). In chap. 5 he provides translation and commentary on a text warning of Lady Folly (4Q184)-the antithesis of Lady Wisdom-and practical instruction (4Q185). …