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
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.
Perhaps no scriptural passage has divided the church so bitterly, or so often, as the ninth article of the Epistle to the Romans. Predestinarian readings take two forms, one of which maintains that God predestines us to salvation or reprobation in the light of faith or works foreseen, the other that this predestining is itself the unconditioned cause of the good that he foresees. Both can claim the authority of Augustine, the foremost theologian of the first millennium. His adversary Pelagius found a different stratagem — not unknown in modern times — which enabled him to deny that Paul endorsed any species of predestination. To explain how each arrived at his conclusions, we must first sketch the theology of salvation that each set out to reconcile with the difficult text of this epistle.
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.
Colleen M. Conway
This chapter begins with a brief overview of the theorists who have shaped gender analytical work on the New Testament, especially the application of gender theory in classical studies. It then concentrates on gender analyses on New Testament writings that demonstrate the differing approaches of masculinity studies, queer theory, and intersectional analysis. The primary focus is on gender construction in Paul’s letters and the canonical gospels, with additional discussion of symbolic and metaphorical uses of gender in other writings of the New Testament. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of future directions for gender criticism.
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.
Daniel K. Falk
Prayer as a service to God by the people is one of the most far reaching of religious practices, forming a central part of the religious practice of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; yet there is still much uncertainty about how this developed within Judaism and why. Scrolls from Qumran provide the most important corpus of evidence to shed light on the critical period during the days of the Second Temple. This article presents a case study for prayer in ancient Judaism. It is organized around the types of questions being asked: questions of definition and classification, textual questions, historical questions, questions concerning context, and questions of ideology and theology. There is a good deal of overlap between these categories, but they are be treated separately for heuristic purposes.
From the very earliest period after the first discoveries, the Qumran scrolls have been of major interest to New Testament (NT) scholars, and, in retrospect, the impact of the scrolls has considerably shifted the debate in central areas of NT scholarship. The debate touches the essence of history-of-religions research, the question of how to explain alleged parallels and how to prove ‘influences’ on the level of texts, authors, or religious groups. The issues discussed are most generally the Jewish, or more distinctly, the Palestinian, impact on the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, the primitive community, or the religious language and theology of NT texts. The scrolls also provide a wealth of information that helps in the interpretation of the New Testament – on the Palestinian-Jewish ‘context’ of emerging ‘Christianity’, factions and groups, etc.
Stephen J. Shoemaker
The apocryphal literature of early Christianity consists primarily of narrative traditions about the life and teaching of Jesus, his family, and his apostles, as well as letters, apocalyptic visions, and other-worldly journeys attributed to these individuals that fall outside the biblical canon. These writings, however, do not always correspond to the literary genres of the New Testament. The production of apocrypha in antiquity was of course not limited to early Christianity or to Christian themes. The various expressions of ancient Judaism also produced a wealth of extra-biblical writings about the many personages of the Hebrew scriptures. These apocrypha, perhaps more commonly known today as the ‘pseudepigrapha’, were also embraced by various early and medieval Christian groups, who made these writings their own, often redacting them according to Christian interests and concerns.
James R. Davila
The Dead Sea Scrolls provide considerable evidence for a vibrant mystical tradition that involved not only theoretical musings about the heavenly realm based on scriptural exegesis, but also ritual practices closely associated with such imaginative constructs, along with an interest in transformational ascents to heaven by biblical figures and perhaps others. There is evidence that some of these mystical traditions survived and were developed by Jews and Christians in later centuries, although it is not yet entirely clear whether these survivals came from a vision mysticism common to Second Temple Judaism or from a successionist priestly mysticism derived directly from Qumran sectarianism or both, and not all scholars are convinced of a genetic link at all between the earlier and later traditions. The discussion also looks into the Hekhalot literature and early Christian mysticism.
Both apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works are increasingly studied at an academic level for what they reveal of the religious preoccupations of their writers and the communities that first received them. The apocryphal writings in particular are a valuable witness to the many strands of Judaism during the period when the Second Temple stood in Jerusalem, spanning roughly the time period between the composition of the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the New Testament. This article discusses apocryphal writings covering several different genres, sometimes even within the same book. These include wisdom literature, which gives advice for right conduct and a successful life, linked to a religious outlook; apocalyptic writing, offering hope of momentous supernatural intervention at the end of history in order to save the people of God, sometimes through the agency of an anointed one or ‘Messiah’; historiography or writing that purports to be history; edifying stories, which are essentially folk tales with a religious message; rewritten Bible, where a familiar story from Scripture is retold with different emphases; and prayers and psalms that may have had a liturgical or devotional function.
John M. Court
This article surveys the growth of the New Testament. The story of the movement in the first centuries towards the canon of the New Testament has three particularly significant historical features, or catalysts, and three literary aspects. The historical catalysts are, first, the existence in the first centuries of groups with alternative Christian philosophies, often labelled ‘Gnostic’; if their rationale is too different, they need to be held at a distance. Second, there is the influence, in the mid-second century, of Marcion, whose programme was to exclude both the Old Testament texts and any elements that echoed the Old within the New Testament. And third, there was a second-century movement, known as Montanism, which emphasized the elements of prophecy, continuing charismatic inspiration, and a revolutionary view of the future. The three significant literary aspects concern the gospels, the epistles, and the other texts with apostolic associations. Revelation is the culmination of the church's self-understanding and the climax of the process of growth of the New Testament.
Reinhard G. Kratz
This article discusses the growth of the Old Testament, which presupposes the Israelite-Judaean scribal culture. From it the biblical tradition took over the practices, knowledge, and literary remains of the scribes. At the same time they pioneered with what they took over, or produced independently on the basis of it, a very particular way that was also unique in the whole of the ancient Near East. The genre and the content of the biblical books burst the limits of the usual praxis of the scribes. From the scribes developed the scribal scholars, and from the Israelite-Judaean scribal culture they developed the Jewish tradition in the Old Testament.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for knowledge of halakhah in late antiquity. Because of this finding, there is now original first-hand information on halakhah as practised by a specific Jewish group during the Second Temple period. Previously, the only other extant collections of halakhic material were the corpora of mishnah and midrash. While these incorporate some first-century material, they were redacted in the third or fourth centuries, thus postdating the scrolls by at least 200 years. This article portrays these two bodies of literature. It examines their structure and content, depicts their fundamental assumptions with regard to the origins and authority of halakhah, and explores the relationships between them. The article uses the ‘Essene hypothesis’ and refers to the laws and religious customs found in the scrolls as representing the halakhah practised by the Essenes.
From a linguist's point of view, the Qumran community was situated in the eye of a storm. In the late Second Temple period, Judaea was multilingual and culturally torn. Hebrew was favoured by Jewish nationalism and religious tradition and Aramaic had been the main language of public life, yet Greek had taken a central place in administration and politics. Under the Romans, Latin was added into the mix. Language use was never neutral in this society. At least three different languages are in fact represented in the Qumran library: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Hebrew and Aramaic texts discovered in Qumran are extremely precious to linguists, as they are to students of other disciplines. At the same time they raise a large number of questions. This article outlines some of the fruits of research on Qumran Hebrew and Qumran Aramaic, as well as some of the issues that remain debated.
Albert De Jong
Zurvanism is a problematic subject in the history of the study of Zoroastrianism, for it was once hailed as the greatest challenge to ‘orthodox’ Zoroastrianism and many irreconcilable aspects with ‘real’ Zoroastrianism were conveniently disposed of by labelling them as ‘Zurbanite’ and, hence, aberrations. It has since been shown that very little evidence supports the notion of Zurvanism as a Zoroastrian ‘heresy’, and that it is mainly to be understood as one of several variants of the chief cosmogony myth. This article examines this myth, which has occasionally been invoked to explain certain aspects of the ideas of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It discusses the possible channels through which Iranian ideas may have become familiar to Jews, and those Iranian elements of the Dead Sea Scrolls that have commonly been recognized as being there: loanwords and imagery.
Eric M. Meyers
This article makes it clear that there is a connection between the caves and the settlement of Khirbet Qumran. Although no scrolls have been found at the site, there is evidence in the artificially cut Cave 4, and Caves 7, 8, and 9, and the pottery found in the caves. There is also strong evidence to support the idea that the majority of inhabitants from Qumran lived in the caves, and it would have been they who hid the scrolls from the advancing Roman armies either at the time of the first destruction of Qumran in 9/8 or 4 BCE or of the Great Revolt in 68 CE. Recently, some scholars have proposed that members of the elite Temple establishment or the Judaean synagogue communities fleeing the Roman armies, wanted to save the scrolls of the Jewish community and deposited them in the Qumran caves.
Susan Ashbrook Harvey
A large body of literature survives from the early Christian period, devoted first to accounts of martyrdom suffered on behalf of the emerging religion and then to lives of exemplary Christian witness. They appeared in every language of the early Christian period, establishing literary traditions that flourished throughout the medieval and Byzantine periods, and even today. These texts have an importance for early Christian studies separate from their role in the cult of saints, and their study has its own scholarly issues. This article addresses these literary concerns, rather than those related to the cult of saints. ‘Hagiography’ is an umbrella term covering writings about holy persons. By the Middle Ages, it was a particular literary form: the ‘Life’, or vita, of a saint, distinct from the martyr's ‘passion’, the account of a martyr's suffering death.