Devora Dimant and Uriel Rappaport, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Forty Years of Research Brill, Magnes Press and Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, Leiden and Jerusalem, 1992, vii and 370 pages.
This book is the proceedings of a symposium sponsored by Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi at Haifa University on 20-24 March, 1988. The occasion was the fortieth year of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is of the nature of such proceedings to be diverse in content, level and quality. On the whole, however, the present volume is a significant work, marking a stage in research into the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Haifa Conference came at a time when a number of such meetings were held, at Madrid, at Groningen and elsewhere, stimulated by the revival of Scrolls research that took place in the 1980's. In viewing the volume in this context, it is interesting to note that, of the twenty-five contribution, nine were written by Israeli scholars. Does this reflect the way this field of learning has developed?
The volume contains a range of studies on various aspects of the Scrolls, reflecting a significant aspects of the current research on these manuscripts. The book is divided into six parts. These are the following: (1) Texts and Text Studies; (2) The History of the Qumran Community; (3) Halakha at Qumran; (4) Qumran and the Hebrew Bible; (5) Qumran and the New Testament; and (6) The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A List of Abbreviations, a Selected Index of Sources, and an Index of Names and Subjects conclude the book.
We shall mention some of the studies, it being impossible to deal with all of them in a brief review. As is natural at the present stage of research, two aspects of Scrolls study are particularly strongly represented, the study of texts and the history of the sect. The present volume has reassessments of some texts (e.g., of Divrei ha-me'orot (E. Chazon, with significant methodological observations), of the exorcisms from the Apotropaic Psalms Scroll from 11Q (E. Puech) and of the exorcism hymns, 4Q450-510 (B.Nitzan). The papers by Nitzan and Puech serve to highlight magicial and exorcistic material that is becoming increasingly the object of attention. Carol Newsome and Eileen Schuller offer pre-publications of material which is their resposibility to prepare for the Discoveries in the Judean Desert series: 4Q374: A Discourse on the Exodus Tradition (Newsome) and 4Q380 and 381 Uncanonical Psalms (Schuller). These form additions to the corpus of Dead Sea Scrolls now at the disposal of scholars.
In the historical section, the reviewer found particularly fascinating material in Madelaine Petit's paper on "Les Esséniens de Philon d'Alexandrie et les Esséniens" which is full of interesting information about the possible sources of Philo and Josephus and the relationship between their information and various sectarian groups mentioned in Rabbinic literature. H. Stegemann emphatically repeats arguments for the antiquity of the Temple Scroll based on the character of the institutions described by it. The Temple Scroll is also to the fore in three further studies in the book, those of Schiffmann in its laws pertaining to women, and of Brooke and Swanson on different aspects of its text-critical significance.
The section on Qumran and the New Testament is notably smaller than most, being composed only of two papers. The impact of the newly published material on New Testament studies is surely more significant than this. On the other hand, the substantial sections on halacha and on biblical textual tradition are accurate reflections of the present stage of research.
This is a useful and interesting work and reflects the development and growing maturity of the field of research into the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Michael E. Stone
Hebrew University of Jerusalem