For the past two decades, my primary publishing task has been the editing of the Qumran biblical scrolls. The present volume contains a series of essays articulating the lessons I have learned along the way. I was invited by friends and colleagues to write each of them for various conferences and collections, mostly honoring leading figures in the textual study of the Bible.
The essays form a unified picture, each focusing on and attempting to develop particular aspects of the history of the biblical text. They deal first with the Hebrew texts and then with the Greek and Old Latin texts, which help us understand the development of the Hebrew texts. The order of the essays on the Hebrew text moves from the more general to the more specific in scope, although Chapters 3-6 progress in chronological order, following the development of my thought concerning multiple variant editions of the books of Scripture.
The essays on the Greek text follow the ancient chronological progression from the Septuagint as it appears at Qumran, through Josephus’s use of it, its transmission up to Origen, and finally the Hexapla. The Old Latin articles are out of print or virtually inaccessible, and since there is so little research on this highly valuable version, it seemed good to include them here.
I have over the past two decades considered it an academic and collegial obligation — something approaching a vocation — to produce the critical editions of the Qumran biblical scrolls as expeditiously and responsibly as possible. As is evident from my work on 4QSama and 4QSamc, there is a great deal more that can and should be done on each of the scrolls beyond what routinely appears in the editions in Discoveries in the Judaean Desert. But for the full collection of the biblical scrolls to be edited within a reasonable period, the task