The Abrahamic religions recognize Abraham as the first to arrive at the truth of monotheism and live out the ideal relationship with God. He is the archetype of the stalwart religious individual willing to abandon everything in the journey to realize the truth of God. Yet while the Abrahamic religions all recognize his vital role, each understands his nature differently. In Judaism Abraham represents unfailing obedience to the divine command, while in Christianity he is the epitome of Christian faith. And in Islam Abraham was the first to submit fully and without reservation to the divine will. Because the religions that revere Abraham differ, so do their Abrahams. Thus, not only does Abraham serve as a symbol of common aspirations, he is also a source of disagreement and interreligious polemic, and a fulcrum for leveraging spiritual difference and claims to religious superiority.
Gerard J. Norton
This article first gives a schematic outline of the history of the Hebrew text in four stages. It then presents the elements that readers will meet in modern editions of that text. These modern editions find a common focus in the great Tiberian manuscripts of about 1000
Michael A. Knibb
The beliefs of the movement that lies behind the scrolls were influenced by the eschatological ideas of the early Enochic writings and by the Book of Daniel, and although the movement does not seem to have produced many apocalypses, eschatology and messianism formed a significant part of its thought-world. But the movement was concerned above all with the proper observance of the Torah. It seems likely that the development of dualism and to some extent of eschatology was a way of coping with the fact that their interpretation of the Torah was not accepted by the leaders. The discussion also holds that the eschatological and messianic beliefs of the Dead Sea Scrolls represent a development of traditions already contained in the Hebrew Bible and form part of the spectrum of beliefs that were common to Jews of the period.
John R. Bartlett
This article discusses the contributions of archaeology to biblical scholarship. Biblical scholarship needs the archaeologist as it needs the anthropologist, the epigraphist, the philologist, the Assyriologist, the classical scholar, the student of Qumran, the rabbinic scholar, and others for the interpretation of the biblical writings. Archaeology is not so much a method of biblical scholarship as an intellectual discipline and practice, incorporating many methods and subject to many methodologies, assisting the modern interpretation of the Bible.
John R. Bartlett
This article discusses archaeology's impact on biblical scholarship, especially over the last two centuries. It describes the Christian pilgrims, explorers, travellers, map makers, and military surveyors who paved the way for the archaeologists. It focuses on twentieth-century archaeology in Palestine/Israel, demonstrating archaeology's growing independence as a discipline, and its effect on modern understanding of the Bible's presentation of history.
Ronald S. Hendel
The biblical texts from Qumran are the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, dating from the mid-third century BCE through the first century CE. Prior to the discovery of the Qumran texts, evidence for the early history of the biblical text consisted of three major versions – the Masoretic text (MT), the Septuagint (LXX), and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) – each with an unbroken chain of transmission to the present day. This article assesses the major text-critical theories of the Hebrew Bible after Qumran. First, it surveys the textual situation at Qumran and the relationships among the Qumran texts and the major versions (MT, LXX, and SP), using, as a perspicuous example, the texts of Exodus. Then, the article addresses the adequacy of the text-critical theories, testing their strengths and weaknesses against this evidence. The major protagonists in the theoretical discussion are Frank M. Cross, Shemaryahu Talmon, Emanuel Tov, and Eugene Ulrich.
Timothy H. Lim
The approach advocated in this article is the understanding of canon as authoritative literature that is binding for the Qumran community. The distinctive features of this approach are: authority is related to a community; the pesherite is central to the understanding of authoritative literature; there is a vaguely bipartite canon where the ‘Torah of Moses’ referred to the Pentateuch; authoritative literature included the biblical lemmata cited and the pesherite interpretation; Jubilees, Enoch, and the Temple Scroll were not considered part of the Torah of Moses; the rules of the community were considered canonical and authoritative; and other books, such as the Psalms of Joshua and ‘the book of meditation’, may also have been considered authoritative.
Joan E. Taylor
The nature of groups named in classical sources as ‘Essenes’ was considered in scholarship of Second Temple Judaism long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but discussion of the Essenes has intensified greatly during the last sixty years. This article reviews the classical sources on the Essenes. It notes propositions on how the Essenes may relate to the scrolls communities and considers how variant opinions may be resolved, with particular reference to the Serekh.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be classified as religious documents of one kind or another, and all the studies since 1947 that have been devoted to their significance can be characterized as attempts to construct some aspect of ancient Judaism from them. Where agreement has been harder to achieve is on the centrality of the role to be accorded to the evidence from the scrolls in constructing a picture of Judaism in the last centuries BCE and the first century CE. Although the scrolls provide reason to believe that some sectarians believed that much was wrong with the Temple in Jerusalem, no text actually states that sectarians should avoid the Temple altogether. The question for the historian is whether the evidence from such texts should be enough to encourage the view that sectarian Jews with such beliefs would cut themselves off from the Temple.
Considering Qumranic hermeneutical systems with regard to form, this article distinguishes between ‘internal interpretation’ integrated within rewritten biblical books, such as the Temple Scroll, and ‘external interpretation’ which is separated from the biblical lemma. The latter forms appear in the pesharim and in the genre called halakhic midrash. With regard to content, the discussion distinguishes between two hermeneutical systems of ancient literature: interpretation that attempts mainly to explain the reality of the biblical period; and interpretation that attempts to adapt the content of the Bible to the reality of a later period. The first is found in the Qumran scrolls primarily within the ‘Rewritten Scriptures’, and the latter is represented in the pesharim and some types of halakhic midrash.