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

Re: orion Talmon and the Qumran "Library"

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "ISO-8859-8" character set]
    [Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]

Dear Tyler Williams,
	 In response to your question (below), it might first be recalled
that there is more than one sense of "library."  Two examples:  (from OED)
"A place set apart to contain books for reading, study, or reference" and
"...a large collection of books, public or private." There have been, of
course, many proposals, some of which, e.g., distinguish Cave 4 from
others. Some uses of "library" in relation to Qumran are recent, e.g., H.
Stegemann, _ The Library of Qumran..._ (1998). Sometimes writers who
disagree on much else still use the term "library." S. Talmon in the M.
Hengel festschrift (which you cite) gave the examples of F. Cross and N.
Golb. Without endorsing Prof. Talmon's view in this case, I can report that
on pages 324-8 he rejected both the terms "genizah" and "library" when used
of Qumran mss. Talmon recognized that the term "Library of Qumran" "has won
wide acceptance." Talmon noted that a "library" can still be a library even
if not found in its original location. Then he wrote,"It is hard to
visualize the ancient librarian who set out to assemble in an 'official'
collection scores of exemplars of a given work, e.g., of the biblical book
of Psalms, much less of writings which give expression to quite variegated,
even mutually contradictory views of religious substance." He then gave
from literary sources examples of a general paucity of text copies. He then
discussed proportions of types of mss at Qumran and Masada. He concluded,
"At Qumran, the assemblage is composed in part of manuscripts penned there,
and to a larger part of scrolls which had been owned by newcomers who
hailed from different parts of the country, from various social strata and
possibly had previously been members of diverse religious factions. They
were brought to Qumran by novices..."
	Libraries, however, can be built with donations as well as copying
and purchase, and also can be formed by discarding unwanted texts. The
Qumran manuscripts--called library or not--are not as religiously diverse
as Talmon appears to imply. And the Psalms texts were, after all,
collected, 'official' or not. Stegemann, of course, locates a library in
the Khirbeh. Stegemann's book ends with assertions with which some will
probably disagree: "...The overwhelming importance, at least for the early
history of the Rabbinic tradition in the Mishnah and Tosepta, which until
now was erroneously conferred upon the Pharisees, actually accrues to the
Essenes. Not only at the time of Jesus, but well into the Rabbinic age, the
Essenes were the principle representatives of Palestinian Judaism." Perhaps
it is possible that the lack of Pharisee texts at Qumran has been
misinterpreted by both Talmon and Stegemann.

best wishes,
Stephen Goranson

>Second, in his essay "The Community of the Renewed Covenant: Between Judaism
>and Christianity" Talmon notes his reticence to use "library" as a technical
>term for describing the Qumran scrolls (p. 7 fn. 12). The reference he gives
>for his full discussion of this issue is "The Essential 'Community of the
>Renewed Covenant': How should Qumran Studies Proceed?" in Paper of the
>Library of Congress Qumran Symposium. Now as far as I know, the essay
>actually appeared in Geschichte-Tradition-Reflection,1 Judentum, eds. H.
>Cancik, et al. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1996, though I do not
>have access to this volume.
>Is anyone familiar with the essay and could give me the reasons why he is
>reticent to use the term "library" when discussing the scrolls.
>Thanks in advance.
>Tyler F. Williams
>Assistant Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, NABC/EBS
>11525 - 23 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, Canada   T6J 4T3
>Phone: (403) 431-5217/ Toll Free: 1-800-567-4988/ Fax: (403) 436-9416
>Web Page: http://www.nabcebs.ab.ca/~twilliam