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Session 10, Biblical Commentary

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Andrew Perrin

on 13 September 2018

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Transcript of Session 10, Biblical Commentary

Introduction to the
Unit 3, Session 2:
Insights on the Evolution of Scriptural Commentary
Dr. Andrew B. Perrin
TWU Dead Sea Scrolls Institute
DEAD SEA SCROLLS
What do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us about early forms of...
BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
ENGAGE tradition.
EXPLORE meanings.
EXTEND authority.

Focus on"new" texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls that:
1. 4Q(Reworked) Pentateuch
2. Genesis Apocryphon
3.
Pesher
Isaiah
4. 4QCommentaries on Genesis
"...a wild Pentateuch with frequent non-biblical additions."
- John Strugnell (personal correspondence to Ben Zion Wacholder reported in
The Dawn of Qumran
, p. 278 n. 169.)
4Q365 frg. 7
1

(Exod 20:12) your [father] and your mother[
2
(16) false witness [against] your [neighbor]. (17) You shall not covet [your] ne[ighbor’s] wife
3 (Deut 5:30)
And the Lord said to Moses,

“Go say to them ‘Return to [your
4
(31) and the ordinances that you teach them so that they may do them in the land which[
5
and the people each returned to their tents but Moses stood before [
6
(Exod 20:22) You have seen that I have spoken with you from the heavens. (23) You shall not ma[ke

7
(24) on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep[
8

(25) you make [a stone altar] for me do not build them with cut stones, for if your tool
9
(26) on it. vacat (21:1) These are the ordinances [that] you are to s[et
10
[ (3) If] he enters alone, he leaves alone; i[f
11
[ (4) ] to his m[a]ster, and he[
12
(6?) and he [shall bring him
13
(6) his ear with an awl[
14
(8) [then ]let him[ be redeemed]. To a pe[ople
15
(10) [her marital rights] n[ot
(Translation mine)
LEGEND:
Text from Exodus 20–21
Additional material added in 4QRP
Text from Deuteronomy 5
4Q158 frgs. 7–8
Genesis
Apocryphon

The Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20) before, during, and after unrolling.
Sample text from 1Q20 col. XXI
Abraham's wealth in camels in Genesis, Ms Cotton Claudius B IV, F. 39 r, 11th cent. CE (British Library).
“Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai '
Behold! Now I know
that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife;’ then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.’”
Genesis 12:10–13
(Modified translation of NRSV)
14 I, Abram, dreamed a dream on the night of my descent into the land of Egypt. And I saw in my dream, behold, a single cedar and a single date palm

15 that sprout[ed] from [the same] ro[ot]. And m[e]n came seeking to chop down and to uproot the [c]edar, leaving the date palm on its own.

16 But the date palm cried out and said, “Do not cut chop down the cedar! Behold, the two of us have spr[outed] from the sa[me] root!” So the cedar was left on account of the date palm

17 and they did not chop me down.

The scene in GenAp XIX 14–17
Qumran Cave One
4Q161 frg. 5
1 ["Right now, the Lord God of Hosts is pruning the treetops with a hook. The tal]lest of all [are h]ewn down,]
2 [the mightiest are laid low. The forest] thickets [will be cut down] with iron tools, the trees of Lebanon, for all their majesty,
3 [will fall"] (Isa 10:33–34). [
This refers to
the] Kittim, wh[o] will [fall] at the hand of Israel and the humble
4 [of Judah, who will ... ] all the Gentiles, and the mighty will be shattered, and [their] co[urage] will dissolve.
5 [ ... The "tallest] of all will be cut down" refers to the warriors of the Kit[tim,]
6 [who ... as for the verse that say]s, "[The] forest thickets will be cut down with iron tools," t[hey are]
7[ ... ] for war against the Kittim. "The trees of Lebanon, for [all their majesty,]
8 [will fall": they are the] Kittim, who will be p[ut] into the power of the nobles of [Israel ...]
9 [ ... ]when he flees befo[re Is]rael [ ... ]

4Q161 col. 3 (frgs. 8–10) 1–9
Morgan "Crusader" Bible, Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams (ca. 1250 CE).
"I approached one of the attendants to ask him the trust concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation (
peshar
) of the matter: 'As for these four great beasts, four great kings shall rise out of the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever–forever and ever."
Daniel 7:16–18
Pesher
precursors in ancient dream literature?
4QCommentaries on Genesis
1 In the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month,
2 the early was dry, on Sunday. On that day Noah went out from the ark, at the end of an exact year,
3 three hundred and sixty four days, on a Sunday. On the seventh,
4 one and six (scribal error), Noah [went out] from the ark, to the day,
5 after a complete year.
4Q252 col. 2 1–5
Retelling Noah's story with a calendrical emphasis
3 The Blessing of Jacob: Reuben, you are my firstborn, and the firstfruits of my vigor,
4 excelling in rank and excelling in power. You are unstable as water, so you shall no longer excel. You went up
5 onto your father's bed; then defiled it—he went up onto his couch! (Gen 49:2–4)
Its interpretation is (pishro)
: He rebuked him because
6 he lay with Bilhah, his concubine, so he [s]aid, "Reuben, you are my first born," [ ... ] Reuben was
7 the first of
4Q252 col. 4 3–7
Expounding on scripture through quotes and comments.
How do these texts interpret Hebrew scripture?
Method: Exegesis from the inside out by stepping into it and supplying interpretation.
Method: Exegesis through rewriting the story with new turns and twists to provide an educational yet entertaining take on traditional tales.
Method: Exegesis by alternating between quoting and commenting on a running text or thematic group of texts.
Method: A blend of 'rewriting' and 'pesher.'
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