Biblical Interpretation at Qumran

Biblical Interpretation at Qumran

Biblical Interpretation at Qumran

Biblical Interpretation at Qumran

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

There is hardly any scholarly discipline that has benefited from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls as much as the field of Biblical Studies. Long before the discovery of the first cave in 1947, reports were known of Hebrew manuscript discoveries in the area of the Dead Sea. Eusebius, bishop and church historian of the late third and early fourth century, noted in his Ecclesiastical History that in compiling the Hexapla of the Psalter, the Church Father Origen (185-254) had been able to secure textual evidence beyond the versions that were known at the time. The hitherto unknown biblical manuscripts, Eusebius informs us, were “found at Jericho in a jar in the time of Antonius son of Severus” (6.16). About half a millennium later the Nestorian patriarch Timotheus I wrote in a now famous letter about the accidental discovery of “books containing the Old Testament and other works in Hebrew script,” again not far from Jericho. Among the Hebrew texts, Timotheus writes, were “more than 200 psalms of David.” What exactly these manuscripts mentioned by Eusebius and Timotheus contained we do not know, though both reports single out biblical scrolls, specifically psalms. It appears that we are not the first to have discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. The excitement over the discoveries was fueled, then and now, largely by the presence of ancient biblical manuscripts.

With all of the Dead Sea Scrolls now available to the scholarly community, the full extent of their significance can be assessed in a much more differentiated way. Of the many areas within the field of Biblical Studies in which the scrolls have made invaluable contributions, three in particular stand out: (1) the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; (2) the development of the biblical canon as it involves both the final stages in . . .

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