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Re: Qumran Question and Reading back from Rabbinic Lit (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 1996 08:50:08 EST
From: Dr DR de Lacey <del2@cus.cam.ac.uk>
To: Multiple recipients of list <ioudaios-l@lehigh.edu>
Subject: Re: Qumran Question and Reading back from Rabbinic Lit

On Mon, 4 Mar 1996, Paul V. M. Flesher wrote:

> I'd like to give a methodological response to both questions. (And I will
> ...
> The question about Schiffman and the identification of Qumran as Essene or
> Sadducee dovetails quite nicely with the question about the use of rabbinic
> literature (RL) to talk about pre-rabbinic Judaism because Schiffman's case
> depends on the use of RL. Essentially there are three methodological
> approaches to using RL to talk about C1 or earlier periods: (1) It is
> anachronistic and cannot be done, (2) RL contains the written version of
> oral traditions from earlier time periods, (3) it is possible to trace in
> certain written texts a continuum from earlier material (such as Qumran)
> into later material (such as RL).

Haven't you missed one? (4) Every piece of writing has its own _Tendenz_ 
and that is very true of the RL. There may indeed be traditional 
materials within it, but we must be aware that they are porbably shaped 
by thast _Tendenz_ (and by historical context too)."Continuum" suggests 
too smooth a flow of history; "anachronistic" makes the issue too 
black-and-white; to all-or-nothing.

> The first position is the most defensible from the standpoint of historical
> methodology. Unfortunately, that then excludes a large body of information
> from use in a field (C1) where there is a dearth of data. 

This argument used to be used to defend an uncritical reading of the 
Gospels to reconstruct the life of Jesus. Seems to me the issues are very 
similar in the two areas of study.

Douglas de Lacey.

Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit,    Cambridge University Library
del2@cam.ac.uk          http://www.cam.ac.uk/Libraries/Taylor-Schechter