Multiple Literary Editions:
Reflections Toward a Theory of the
History of the Biblical Text
Perennially fascinating to the human mind are questions regarding the genesis and development of important elements that constitute our world, our existence, our physical, psychological, or spiritual life. The historical-critical study of theBible is one such assay in exploring the origins and development of a predominant influence on Western culture and Jewish-Christian values and traditions.
Various new forces provide stimuli for reconsidering and rethinking current perspectives on origins, such as a new invention with wide-ranging possibilities, a new Zeitgeist with fertile potencies for seeing familiar subjects from a fresh viewpoint, or the discovery of a new body of evidence that offers a fresh coign of vantage for reevaluation of traditional theories.
The two hundred biblical manuscripts1 discovered at Qumran offer,
1. For a list and discussion of the biblical scrolls from Cave 4, see E. Ulrich, “The Biblical Scrolls from Qumran Cave 4: An Overview and a Progress Report on Their Publication,” RevQ 14/2, no. 54-55 (December 1989) 207-28. For updates of that list plus a list of manuscripts from the other caves and their publication data, see E. Tov et al., eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche: A Comprehensive Facsimile Edition of the Texts from the Judaean Desert, Companion Volume (2d ed.; Leiden: Brill, 1995). For publication of the Cave 4 biblical scrolls, see DJD 9 (manuscripts in palaeo-Hebrew or Greek), DJD 12 (Gen-
I am especially grateful to Professors Noel B. Reynolds and Donald W. Parry, the Founda-
tion for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, and the Jerusalem Center for Near East
ern Studies of Brigham Young University for the invitation to contribute to their Judaean
Desert Scrolls Conference 1995 and for their gracious hospitality.