Abstract

Since the publication of 11QPsa (11Q5) in 1965, the following question has remained open about this document and subsequently about other Dead Sea Scrolls containing psalms: Do they comprise genuine psalters or do they represent secondary liturgical collections derived from a standard proto-MT psalter? Scholarly debate over the question has proceeded on the assumption that there exists a standard 150-psalm sēper tәhillîm of the configuration found in the Second Rabbinic Bible and reproduced in all subsequent printings of the Hebrew Bible to the present day. The question about scrolls from Qumran containing psalms, then, has been framed with reference to this presumed standard Hebrew Psalter, usually identified in the shorthand as the MT Psalter. This article builds on an examination of virtually all the world’s Hebrew manuscripts of sēper tәhillîm. This survey has produced evidence showing that, while the semantic content of sēper tәhillîm did indeed become the fixed text known as the MT, the ways in which the content was configured into discrete psalmic compositions varied widely among the medieval manuscripts. Drawing from medieval halakists, the article offers a partial explanation for the variety in psalter configurations centered on different liturgical customs. By applying the evidence from hundreds of Hebrew medieval Psalms manuscripts, the article concludes that, since no standard MT configuration of the premodern Hebrew psalter ever existed, framing the question about scrolls from Qumran as either true psalters or as secondary collections finds no basis in the manuscript evidence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 775-789
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-30
Open Access
No
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