[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: 4Q491

>Morton Smith maintains that 4Q491 is the account of an "egomaniac" who
>believed that he had ascended to heaven and had visionary experiences.
>My question: is there any evidence that the Qumran covenanters believed in
>ecstatic experiences?

The current issue (#3 or 4, I think, of 1994) of the Jewish Quarterly
Review is devoted to Qumran and has two articles (by Bilhah Nitzan and
Elliott Wolfson) on this subject, which I've only had the chance to look at
quickly.  The short answer is that 4Q491 is the closest thing to a smoking
gun for this kind of experience.  But there is interesting material in
(e.g.) the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice that bears on the question too.
The latter seems to have been used liturgically by someone, so who knows
what kind of experiences the got from it?  And the SOSS does have
exegetical and thematic parallels to later Merkavah mysticism.

Also, I have an article coming out soon (now at the printer's) in Revue de
Qumran that draws comparisons between the mystical story of the four who
entered paradise in rabbinic & Merkavah texts and col. 16 (in the new
ordering) of the Hodayot.  I think it's possible that some material in the
Hodayot reflects ecstatic experience, but much depends on how the term is

Jim Davila
University of St. Andrews