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Tobit and the Genesis Apocryphon: Toward a Family Portrait

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 133, Number 1, 2014
pp. 111-132 | 10.1353/jbl.2014.0003



The Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls provide a unique window into Second Temple Jewish literature and scriptural interpretation that is only beginning to gain sustained scholarly attention. A major question regarding these texts, and addressed preliminarily in this essay, is the extent to which they may constitute a coherent corpus of related works. Tobit and the Genesis Apocryphon are two Aramaic compositions that have benefited from extensive individual analysis but have not been studied alongside each other. A close, comparative reading of both texts reveals a surprising correspondence in their topics of interest, scriptural source material, literary techniques, narrative structures, and idiom. These similarities suggest a close family resemblance between Tobit and the Apocryphon, which were likely written in the same or associated scribal circles during the early Hellenistic period. The relationship between these two texts makes a case for similar comparisons of other Aramaic scrolls and suggests a more tightly formed constellation of affiliated texts than has been previously recognized.

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