Libraries & Culture 40.1 (2005) 90-91
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This handsome volume is the result of a conference held in 2000 in England that brought together scholars from eight countries on three continents to discuss matters related to the Dead Sea Scrolls and related documents. The title indicates only generally the major theme of the volume. It concerns the way(s) in which the ancient communities that preserved and produced the documents attributed religious authority to them. It is anachronistic to think of the communities studying and copying a Bible (i.e., a textually fixed, formally closed collection). On the other hand, these communities clearly did attribute religious authority to a variety of texts, and the contributors to this volume demonstrate this in a variety of ways. The first two essays in the volume (by Shemaryahu Talmon and Armin Lange) situate the ancient documents in the process of canon development in Judaism as it can be reconstructed.
A term that one now hears used with increasing regularity among scholars of second temple Judaism is rewritten scriptures. It is a term that is linked to the process of canon development, whereby authoritative texts and traditions are rewritten as they are transmitted and re-presented. Some scholars have suggested that the canonical books of Deuteronomy and 1-2 Chronicles are examples of this phenomenon and that the Temple Scroll and the book of Jubilees from the Judaean Desert are two examples that were not finally included in Judaism's canon of Scripture. Three contributions in the volume (by George Brooke, James VanderKam, and Philip Alexander) treat aspects of this phenomenon. Alexander's interesting work examines the various texts about Enoch as an example of rewriting an authoritative tradition.
Five essays (by Timothy Lim, Serianna Metso, Eibert Tigchelaar, Jesper Høgenhaven, and Sidnie White Crawford) discuss the ways in which books from the Hebrew Bible are quoted or used in the nonbiblical documents under scrutiny. It is often repeated that every book of the Hebrew Bible except Esther is found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the case of small fragments of text and given the phenomenon of rewriting a tradition, some have suggested that in fact Esther was known to the Qumran community. Crawford's article examines some court-tales fragments proposed as reflecting Esther and concludes that they are not a rewritten Esther.
Textual transmission of biblical books is an important facet of the discoveries in the Judaean Desert. There are seven contributions related to this topic (by Emanuel Tov, Arie van der Kooij, Eugene Ulrich, Edward Herbert, Donald Parry, Martin Abegg, and Peter Flint). Van der Kooij's article is a succinct but valuable overview of how the Judaean Desert discoveries have complicated the matter of [End Page 90] textual analysis. There is under way a new critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, The Hebrew University Bible, that shows in detail the impact of these discoveries.
This is a volume that scholars will treasure and students will find helpful, depending on the specificity of their interest.
J. Andrew Dearman