The New Damascus Document: The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah: Reconstruction, Translation, and Commentary

The New Damascus Document: The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah: Reconstruction, Translation, and Commentary

The New Damascus Document: The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah: Reconstruction, Translation, and Commentary

The New Damascus Document: The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah: Reconstruction, Translation, and Commentary

Synopsis

This volume examines twelve ancient and medieval manuscripts, ten from the caves at Qumran and the two so called Damascus Documents from the Cairo Geniza, presenting a new organization and understanding of these texts. The twelve manuscripts are in a composite form under the title Midrash haTorah haAcharon (MTA), the Midrash of the Eschatological Torah, a title which opens a new window into the understanding of the Jewish literary tradition during the period of the Second Temple, prior to the development of the Talmud and Christianity. Following the composite Hebrew text are a full translation, notes and commentary elucidating the MTA in light of the new evidence provided by these texts and retranslation.

Excerpt

The major task confronting the reader of this composite edition is determining what it tells us that we had not known from the previous versions of the Genizah text. This work consists of a radical rereading of the known material, both the cd texts available since 1910 and the fragmentary additions of the ten manuscripts found in the caves of Qumran. As conventional scholarship has by now become a virtual dogma that needs revision, I propose to question elements of that dogma and how they apply to historical and systemic questions, including standardized linguistics and philology. It is precisely this area of modern scholarship that I believe needs revision as well. Without a new translation and reinterpretation of the entire body of texts of mta and related dss texts, this ancient body of literature cannot be opened anew for intellectual debate. Permit me to underline that this synoptic edition does not (by any stretch of the imagination) presume to be a complete substitute for the original composition.

Pivotal points in understanding mta are approach and methodology. Because so many phrases and clauses clearly draw on the wordage of the Hebrew Scriptures, modern interpreters beginning with Schechter take it for granted that the dss be read biblically, applying a biblical interpretation to terms in the dss which have scriptural parallels. in fact however, modern renditions of the Tanakh are often of little value: marvelous for restoring lost passages, they are nevertheless of little merit for rendering the dss, since the language of the scribes who flourished in the Second Temple period varied from that of the Hebrew Scriptures. in addition, the authors of the dss appear to have had their own version of the Hebrew texts, differing in certain respects from those transmitted by the Masoretes. Their version of the holy writ was similar to the independent text used by the Greek translators of the Septuagint. Even when their wording is the same as that of the . . .

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