Pre-sectarian Literature

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Exile and Return in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Second Temple

Among those texts gathered into their library by the Qumran sectarians were four out of the five parts of 1 Enoch and the book of Jubilees. Although these books are not entirely preserved in the scrolls, it is certain that the members of the sect would have had  available full copies of these texts (except that the Similitudes [Parables] of Enoch were not part of the collection).  Accordingly, we will consider these texts, even where the Qumran manuscripts do not preserve the specific passages.  We will see that these passages routinely assume that the state of exile continued through the Persian period, uninterrupted, into the Hellenistic period.

Within the Enochic corpus, among the earliest materials is the Apocalypse of Weeks, dating to immediately pre-Maccabean times.[1]  This text divides biblical history into “weeks” and places the exile in the sixth week. Here the text states:

And after this in the sixth week all those who live in it (will be) blinded, and the hearts of all, lacking wisdom, will sink into impiety.  … and at its end the house of… Continue reading

Review of The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture

The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary CultureAriel Feldman
Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

Dead Sea Discoveries 21 (2014) 82–129

Adolfo D. Roitman, Lawrence H. Schiffman and Shani Tzoref (eds.)
The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture: Proceedings of the International Conference Held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (July 6–8, 2008). STDJ 93. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Hardcover. Pp. xviii + 769. € 202.00/US$ 287.00. ISBN 978-90-04-18593-7.

These proceedings of a 2008 Jerusalem conference contain 34 essays divided into five rubrics. The volume opens with “Some Thoughts at the Close of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert Publication Project” by E. Tov. The next four essays deal with the “Identity and History of the Community.” F. García Martínez revisits “The Groningen Hypothesis,” affirming its assumption that the sectarian scrolls reflect different stages in the development of the community.

In her “1QS 6:2c–4a—Satellites or Precursors of the Yaḥad?” C. Hempel suggests that 1QS 6:2c–4a portrays the basic unit of the movement. E. Regev in “What Kind of Sect Was the Yaḥad?” analyzes the parallels between the Yaḥad and some modern sects. J.C. VanderKam, writing on “The Pre-History of the Qumran Community with a Reassessment of CD 1:5–11,” studies the references to 390 and 20 years in the… Continue reading

Exile and Return in the Dead Sea Scrolls

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Exile and Return in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Exile and Return

Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, The Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem. Courtesy of Deror avi, Wikimedia Commons.

The theme of exile and return has been much discussed in the field of biblical studies.  Roughly speaking, two basic approaches have been taken. One group sought to investigate the actual nature of the exile, better exiles–Assyrian and Babylonian, that ancient Israel experienced. Such studies attempt to reconstruct the historical reality experienced by individuals and the nation as a whole when enemies ravaged the land of Israel, sent off some of its inhabitants to captivity, and when, eventually, some of these inhabitants actually returned. A completely different approach has sought to understand the impact of the exile(s) and hope for return on the history of Israelite religion. Indeed, this theme has played a central role in prophetic thought and it was so fundamental in the ongoing history of Judaism that it eventually led to the actual return of the Jewish people–now about half of them—to the land of Israel and the creation of a modern state. This second approach seeks not the reconstruction of actual event’s… Continue reading