Academic journal article Hebrew Studies Journal

Greater Than the Sum of the Parts: Organization and Structure in [4QpPs.Sup.A] (Psalm Pesher 1/4Q171)

Academic journal article Hebrew Studies Journal

Greater Than the Sum of the Parts: Organization and Structure in [4QpPs.Sup.A] (Psalm Pesher 1/4Q171)

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

For over half a century, the Qumran pesharim have provided scholars with a wealth of knowledge about the history, theology, and exegetical practice of the Qumran community. (1) Until recently, however, most "studies of the continuous pesher genre have concerned themselves with the relationship between the lemma [scripture citation] and the gloss [pesher commentary]," without paying much attention to the overarching structure of the pesher scrolls. (2) Thus, while [4QpPs.sup.a] (4Q171, Psalm Pesher 1) has been available to the public for over half a century, scholars have directed little effort toward assessing the literary unity of the document, choosing instead to examine the scroll for clues about the history, theology, and exegetical practice of Qumran. (3) Two recent articles, however, have attended to the overarching structure of [4QpPs.sup.a]: "The Sociological and Liturgical Dimensions of Psalm Pesher 1," by J. H. Charlesworth and J. D. McSpadden, and "The Time of Testing," by David Katzin, the latter of which was published in a recent issue of Hebrew Studies (4) If these scholars are correct in identifying a "thematic structure corresponding] to the sectioning of" [4QpPs.sup.a], (5) then the current consensus among Qumran scholars concerning the nature of the pesher genre is in need of refinement.

The pesher on Psalm 37 in [4QpPs.sup.a] offers an attractive basis on which to conduct a test-case to see if a pesher document contains any overarching organizational unity because it is relatively well preserved yet concise in comparison with some of the other continuous pesharim. (6) Therefore, this article will examine [4QpPs.sup.a] for signs of thematic structure in order to gain a greater understanding of both the pesher on Psalm 37 and the continuous pesher genre. It will be shown that the author of the pesher on Psalm 37 ([4QpPs.sup.a] frags. 1-10 1.8[?]-4.21) (7) structures the text in a way that enables him (8) to preserve the structure of Psalm 37 itself while clearly articulating an overarching theme: that of the "two fates" of the wicked and the righteous. (9)

After surveying the current state of scholarship on [4QpPs.sup.a], giving special attention to the claims of Katzin and Charlesworth and McSpadden, (10) this study will argue for the structural coherence in the Psalm 37 pesher in two parts: 1) It will examine the way in which the pesher organizes and presents the lemmata, emphasizing formal indicators of structural development (unit length, acrostic letter, vacat placement, etc.). 2) It will summarize the themes that tie together clusters of glosses which are demarcated by vacats. The article will then conclude by presenting some implications for other major pesharim and the current consensus regarding the genre of pesharim as a whole arising from the present study.

2. History of Research

In the mid 1950s, John Allegro organized and published the thirteen fragments of [4QpPs.sup.a], a relatively well preserved scroll containing the only extant clear picture of a pesher on the Psalms from Qumran. (11) Initially, scholars concerned themselves with historical questions. (12) Since the purpose of this present article is textual/literary and not historical, it is sufficient here simply to note the following: a) no consensus has emerged as to how these historical questions should be answered; b) discussions of these historical questions have focused largely on smaller units (individual lemmata and glosses), resulting in little effort to understand [4QpPs.sup.a] on the whole. (13)

When scholars addressed the hermeneutics of [4QpPs.sup.a] and other pesharim, a consensus emerged quickly that still obtains today. (14) Psalm Pesher 1 belongs to the genre of "continuous pesharim" (Carmignac: "suivis et continus"), (15) texts, which contain commentary on extended portions of biblical texts, with the pesher commentary (or gloss) interspersed between brief segments of quotations from the biblical text (lemmata). …

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