The Damascus Document from the Cairo Genizah: Its Discovery, Early Study and Historical Significance

Stefan C. Reif

Taylor-Schechter Research Unit
Cambridge University Library

What is history?

"Such a view", declares one of the doyens of modern Jewish historiography, "effectively negates any question of objectivity from even the most capable of historians. [It is] a view I cannot but regard as cynical, if not downright impudent, or, to use the more vigorous Yiddish expression, a chuzpa." This is how Jacob Katz responds to the critical advice of one scholar who suggests that, before examining any historical work, one should take a good look at the life, times and outlook of the writer. Such an examination, according to that scholar, will constitute a better guide to the work than the academic theories of the writer himself. At the same time, however, Katz unequivocally acknowledges the importance of the debate about whether any historian is capable of adopting a totally impersonal position with regard to the events of the past. Indeed, having noted the impudence of the extreme version of such a scholarly scepticism, he backtracks more than somewhat and states his own belief that an acquaintance with the life of a writer will assist the reader in assessing the degree to which that writer's views may be regarded as objective. Since, in his opinion, historians would never claim absolute detachment for any of their statements or judgements, they are aware that their personal stories will interest those who are acquainted with their publications. In this way, Katz justifies his decision to compose his own autobiography.1

A few more words require to be said about the importance of personal and even ephemeral data in the study of scholarly views and theories and about the differences in this connection between nineteenth- and twentieth-century historical research. Until well into this century, it was believed, in common with the Victorian teachers, that the true student of the past was capable of standing outside his own chronology and locality and could, by an enthusiastic and judicious marshalling of progressively more intricate data from chosen sources, replace the folktales of tradition with the scientific analysis of the present, producing a picture of the past precisely as it was. In the amusing and perceptive words of E. H. Carr, "three generations of German, British and even French historians marched into battle intoning the magic words 'wie es eigentlich gewesen ist' like an incantation - designed, like most incantations, to save them from the tiresome obligation to think for themselves." More recent historians are no less committed to the pursuit of reliable information and fresh sources; but they recognize that neither the historian nor his source can ever be regarded as dispassionate and that academic history is a matter of placing everyone and everything in their contexts and interpreting their significance accordingly and with as little subjectivity as one can manage.2

Current scholars are more at home with the humanity of history than with its grander sweeps. Testimonies to the petty incident, details of the underprivileged group and remnants of the unconventional text are given a status once denied them and there is an almost voyeuristic obsession with individuals, their lives and their motivations. Today's intense interest in both the most obscure contents of the Genizah Collection itself and in the people associated over the years with its discovery and exploitation is to a considerable degree due to such changes in scholarly outlook. What Schechter and his colleagues set aside in their day as unimportant today attracts fresh attention, whether it is economic data, printed matter or magical charms. Wissenschaftsgeschichte is now a flourishing science and it is widely felt that enthusiasm for an academic subject must also entail a fascination with those who have promoted it. Here too, it has become as important to know about the personal involvement as it is to be au fait with the technical data.3

Ben Sira case

I recently applied this approach, I believe with some success, to a close study of Schechter's involvement with the textual history of the book of Ben Sira. An examination of his earlier scholarly work and the way it related to that of his colleagues in Oxford revealed theological as well as historical and literary reasons for his deep interest in finding an authentic Hebrew version of the work. These undercurrents explained the almost paroxysmal excitement generated in him in May, 1896, when he identified a manuscript folio brought to him by Mrs Agnes Lewis and Mrs Margaret Gibson as a tenth-century fragment of just such a version.4 When later, as a widow, Mrs Mathilde Schechter reminisced about the years that she had spent with her husband in Cambridge, she recalled how very keen he had been to locate the original Hebrew of Ben Sira. "The subject interested him very much", she wrote, "and occupied his mind intensely, for the great savant who lived 200...years before Christ had been the subject of argument among biblical critics and Christian theologians throughout the century." After he had made his identification of the Lewis-Gibson fragment, Dr Schechter, would, according to his wife's testimony, often say "If only I had leave of absence and sufficient money, I would go in search of that lost Hebrew original."5

In my article, I pointed out that Schechter's trip to Cairo was privately financed by Charles Taylor, the Master of St John's College, and not institutionally by the University of Cambridge, because of the fear that any formal announcement would lead to alternative bids to uncover the manuscript source. This, in Mathilde Schechter's frankly expressed statement, "would have brought Oxford University and probably other places into competition, and might have spoiled any chance of Dr Schechter's success." She also cited her husband's conviction that "if the original Hebrew of Jesus Ben Sira was in existence, it could be found only in the Genizah of old Cairo, as Saadya Gaon, the last person to quote Jesus Ben Sira, hailed from Cairo, and his manuscripts would naturally be hidden there, as it was the old Jewish custom never to destroy but to hide or bury Hebrew writings, mostly in synagogues." According to my analysis, the subsequent jockeying for scholarly prominence in the subject was the inspiration for many discoveries and publications and it was not difficult to identify the human motivations, some more honourable than others, that lay behind the academic enterprises.6

Searching for a background

When kindly invited by the organisers of this symposium to make a novel contribution to the current discussions about the Damascus Document (=CD), particularly in connection with Schechter's discovery of the Genizah manuscripts, it occurred to me that it would be interesting for me, as well as for my listeners and, ultimately, my readers, if I could subject this topic to an analysis that was in essence similar to that earlier undertaken in the case of the Ben Sira Genizah fragments.7 One could then once again uncover the personal feelings and controversies that inspired the discovery, locate earlier treatments of the subject, and place Schechter's work in the context of earlier historical research. Alas, as the Scots poet, Robert Burns, wisely concluded, no doubt at the end of an especially abortive effort at one literary composition or another, "the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley [=often go awry]."8 Had he been born in Galicia rather than Ayrshire, he would no doubt have expressed it as "a mensch tracht und Gott lacht." None of Schechter's pre-Genizah publications reveals any particular interest in Jewish sectarian literature. He was not at the time of his discovery of CD engaged in any controversy about the existence of Hebrew literature that appeared to originate in non-rabbinic circles. There was no reason, at least none that I could identify, why he might have a burning ambition to locate the theological and exegetical ideas of a previously unknown sect. In sum, I was unable to place the discovery of the CD Document in the kind of human context that I had successfully found for the explosion of Ben Sira research at the same period.

But today's scholars also have motivations for their studies. If one is scheduled to give a paper at a conference, a topic has to be developed. If one's expenses are to be paid, they have to be justified by the treatment of a fresh theme. If a curriculum vitae is to be updated for a research assessment exercise, it had better include some additional items. The questions might have to be different for CD than they were for Ben Sira but a closer look at personal and institutional archives, at the interpretations offered by Schechter and his supporters and critics, and at the results of broader studies relating to the scholarly interaction with Genizah materials, would undoubtedly produce some worthwhile findings. When did Schechter discover the manuscripts of CD and why did it take him so long to publish them? Was there any development in his theories about CD and, if so, under whose influence? Are there any obviously personal elements in the scholarly controversies? Does current research about the earliest Genizah discoveries contribute anything to the discussions about CD? How do Schechter's views, and those of his contemporaries, compare with post-Qumranic interpretations? The fresh treatment of these questions will make it possible to assess the degree to which George Margoliouth of the British Museum is justified when he claims in 1910 that Schechter "has added glory to his name by bringing to light a document which will, in the opinion of many, take an even higher rank than the Hebrew text of Ecclesiasticus, which owes its identification to the same ingenious and practised scholar."9

Gradual revelations

Although Schechter published CD in the first volume of his Documents of Jewish Sectaries that made its appearance in Cambridge in 1910, he obviously discovered and identified it many years earlier.10 When he left Cambridge for New York in 1902, he arranged to borrow both manuscripts of CD and he had obviously therefore made his exciting find during the years of his intensive Genizah research in Cambridge. The personal excitement and the human progress of these five years, from 1897, when he returned from Cairo with his famous "hoard of Hebrew manuscripts", until 1902 when he sailed for the United States to take over the leadership of the Jewish Theological Seminary, are well documented in his archives and those of his academic colleagues, as well as in more formal University documents. The team of enthusiastic specialists that Schechter gathered around him are seen to be busy making all manner of discoveries and sharing the details of these with each other. A picture emerges of industrious activity relating to the study, transcription, conservation and publication of the fragments presented by Schechter and Taylor, and to the possible purchase and acquisition of other Genizah material. Scholarly and popular articles appear in considerable number and there are times when Schechter makes a positive nuisance of himself by bombarding his colleagues with information about his latest revelations.11

Given such a situation, it is more than a little surprising that his first encounters with CD are not trumpeted from the ramparts of the records. Not only is there no major publicity about his revelations; there seems to be a positive reticence about reporting and explaining them, and it is only with some difficulty that one can ascertain when they occurred. The first hint that he had identified such items is offered in an article that he published in The Jewish Chronicle of London on 1 April, 1898. Continuing the general report on the Genizah Collection's broad contents that he had commenced in The Times of London on 3 August, 1897, he promises the historian a wealth of new material relating to forgotten groups and their religious writings:

And what raptures of delight are there in store for the student when sifting and reducing to order the historical documents which the Genizah has furnished in abundance, including even the remains of the sacred writings of strange Jewish sects that have long since vanished. Considerations of space, however, forbid me to enter into detailed descriptions; these would require a whole series of essays.12

Clearly Schechter is aware that has uncovered texts that are of major significance for Jewish sectarian history but he is loath to describe them in detail. No mention is made of them either in the report prepared by the University Library's Cairo Subsyndicate in 1899 or, perhaps even more strangely, in the summary of the Collection drawn up in 1900 by Herman Leonard Pass, the young convert from Judaism to Christianity employed by Schechter to identify and describe a broad range of biblical and apocryphal items.13 It is of course possible that Schechter is anxious to keep the discovery to himself but, given that he had publicised so much else that he was researching or planned to research, such a motivation is by itself insufficient to explain his behaviour. It is also known that Schechter held things back for publication in America in order to bring prestige to his new institution14 but in this case the edition of CD did not appear until 1910, eight years after he arrived at the Seminary. Taken together, however, with a hesitation on his part to commit himself to a definitive identification of historical provenance, theological context and literary importance, these motivations become more convincing. Schechter undoubtedly had the imagination, the flair and the enthusiasm to locate manuscripts of outstanding significance for Hebrew and Jewish studies, but it was sometimes left to others to complete the detailed scholarly process. As his student and friend Norman Bentwich, in his famous biography of the master, put it: "After his first editions he was outstanding rather as the discoverer than the commentator, a master of intuition rather than erudition. He was the explorer reporting his travels in the land of manuscripts as he went."15

Early Interpretation

This theory about his overall hesitation is borne out by the fact that Schechter begins to allude to CD in slightly more detail in his own reports on the Taylor-Schechter Collection as University Reader in Talmudic, and as Curator in Oriental Literature at the University Library, published as appendices to the Library Syndicate's reports between 1900 and 1902. In his statement of 6 May, 1900, he is more explicit than he had been in a letter to Cyrus Adler of two weeks earlier, 16 this time not only noting CD's borrowings from the Book of Jubilees but also favouring a Samaritan origin, via the Dosithean sect. He knew that he was looking for a sect that had survived from Second Temple times into the Middle Ages and the one that was referred to by rabbinic, early Christian and medieval Islamic sources, and linked with the personal name Dosa, Dostai, Dusis or Dustan (Dositheos in Greek) seemed to be an obvious candidate:

We have now fragments of the original Hebrew of Ben Sira representing three different manuscripts, which have been edited by the Master of St John's and Dr Schechter. The Megillath Antiochus is represented in many copies. Mr Pass has lately discovered an Aramaic fragment, similar in character to a Targum, which probably formed the original of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. In this connection may be mentioned a larger fragment of Samaritan origin (probably emanating from the sect of the Dostaim) which gives many quotations from the Book of Jubilees and which on further study should help to solve the problem of this Apocryphon.17

By the time that he is about to leave Cambridge for Seminary pastures, he has clear-cut plans to publish his various fragments relating to Jewish sects and he reports on 25 February, 1902, that "the fragments of Anan's book will form part of a volume on Jewish Sectaries which is being printed by the Cambridge University Press."18 At that time, however, the link he has made is still primarily with the Samaritans, as is made clear by the notes prepared in the University Library at that time, no doubt with Schechter's involvement, and relating to the loan being made to him of those items required for the preparation of his volume:

Dr Schechter took with him from Cambridge March 14/02 (Returned by Dr Schechter 1910):

T-S 16.311 Samaritan paper
T-S 10K6 Samaritan paper 8 leaves
Anan (Karaites Polemics) Vellum T-S 16.359-367 (returned by Dr Schechter 1910 July 13)19

Apparently, soon after he had settled in the United States, he had a discussion about the CD fragments with the distinguished scholar and leader of Reform Judaism, who presided over the Hebrew Union College from 1903, Kaufmann Kohler. From that discussion, Kohler concluded that the Samaritan and Dosithean connections were still central to Schechter's theories, as he reported when he wrote a review of Documents of Jewish Sectaries in 1911 and complained about the author's alteration of these:

Indeed, eight years ago, Professor Schechter was far nearer the truth, when, in conversation with the writer, he spoke of the Dosithean character and origin of the manuscript he had brought from Cambridge. The very opening words of the document show it to have been the messianic pronunciamento of the Samaritan heresiarch...20

Not only Kohler's report but also an account of a lecture given by Schechter to a well attended meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis at Columbia University in New York City on 30-31 December 1902 attest to an evolution in the lecturer's thoughts about CD. The Samaritan connection is replaced by a Karaite link and, perhaps even more importantly, Schechter acknowledges the tentative nature of his hypothesis:

Prof. Solomon Schechter of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America then spoke on "A Newly-Discovered Document of an Old Jewish Sect." From the Cairo Genizah he had brought several MSS., whose meaning he was at a loss to explain. As he is publishing the text, he believed that some scholar to whose attention the subject might be brought would be able to solve the mystery. The MS. contains references to a Samaritan city. It speaks of the three cardinal sins and of polygamy, against which it makes a novel argument. Professor Schechter claims that this MS. must be the laws of some Jewish sect, like the Karaites, perhaps, surely midway between the Jews and the Samaritans. The sect is not like the Samaritans, for it acknowledges certain prophets as authorities; besides, it lives in Damascus at the period of the destruction of the second temple, and not in Gerizim.21

It may hardly be doubted that Schechter was a very busy man at the Seminary during the next few years with many administrative burdens, a heavy teaching load, and a demanding agenda in the wider Jewish and non-Jewish communities. This took its toll of the time available for research and inevitably led to a delay in the appearance of the volumes devoted to CD and Anan. At the same time, I believe that there may have been other factors that also contributed to that delay. If, as has been suggested, Schechter was slowly adjusting his views, or reaching the conclusion that only a tentative hypothesis was possible, this would have created a hesitancy on his part to commit himself to print. His earlier work had been of a considerably different character, more concerned with establishing critical texts on the basis of manuscript comparisons, and less demanding of historical and theological theorising.22 His other Genizah work was in fields with which he was thoroughly familiar and where he could feel confident about his interpretations. CD represented a singularly different challenge and it is possible that the team of distinguished scholars of Judaica that now surrounded him in New York, and that he had indeed newly added to the Seminary's faculty, had both a favourable and less favourable effect on his project.

Collegial Influences

In his preface to Fragments of a Zadokite Work, Schechter makes acknowledgement to three of his colleagues, Israel Friedlaender and Alexander Marx at the Seminary, and Henry Malter at Dropsie College, for assistance with Arabic texts and with manuscript readings.23 Although no more details are given about Friedlaender's contribution to Schechter's research, it seems likely that he made more than a minor impact on its direction. A graduate of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin and a expert Semitist who had studied with Theodor Nöldeke in Strasbourg, Friedlaender functioned as the Seminary's professor of Bible.24 He had little enthusiasm for this role and preferred to concentrate his efforts on medieval Jewish and Islamic sects, with the focus, as his biographer puts it, on "popular movements, not elitist philosophies, religious enthusiasm rather than conventional piety, heterodoxy more than orthodoxy."25 His published studies of medieval sectarianism and his views on the religious interchange between Islam and Judaism have left their mark on scholarship and he presupposed, without being able to identify the route, a movement of religious ideas from the ancient world to the philosophies of medieval sects. I find it hard to believe that he provided Schechter only with translations of Arabic texts but am not yet in a position to cite documentary evidence for my suspicions. Both Marx and Malter, encouraged by Schechter's example and assistance, specialized in various aspects of Genizah research and it is hardly surprising to find their names mentioned in Schechter's CD volume.26

A name that is, however, conspicuous by its absence from that study is that of the scholar who was undoubtedly the most distinguished among the group of Judaic experts that Schechter had brought to the Seminary, namely, Louis Ginzberg. Some further attention should therefore be given to the relationship that these two outstanding teachers and researchers enjoyed during Schechter's presidency of the Seminary. Ginzberg's son, Eli, has described that relationship as mutually warm and supportive. They admired each other's scholarship to such a degree that Schechter entrusted to Ginzberg whole areas of Genizah research that he could not himself find the time to undertake, and Ginzberg was genuinely distraught when faced with a Seminary without Schechter on the latter's untimely death in 1915. At the same time, there were clearly some tensions between them. Eli Ginzberg must have had some specific discussions and situations in mind when he claimed that "Schechter could not have escaped moments of disquietude when he realized that my father's single-handed devotion to scholarship was propelling him into a position of international renown."27 One such tense situation was undoubtedly created when Schechter asked Ginzberg whether the fragments of the Talmud Yerushalmi that he had found in the Genizah had any special value. His younger colleague's less than modest reply was "Yes, when I have added my notes and commentary."28

In my view, such tensions are also manifest in the matter of CD and help to explain the differences between Schechter and Ginzberg with regard to its interpretation. Schechter had already passed enough Genizah material to Ginzberg to ensure that he would overtake his chief in the matter of the quantity of his Genizah publications and was anxious to retain exclusive control of CD. Perhaps the acknowledgements in his preface imply that Ginzberg's views were receiving little or no attention. Schechter saw the work as decidedly non-Pharisaic and in opposition to the talmudic Judaism in which Ginzberg was so expert. Ginzberg was convinced that Schechter's identification of the sect was mistaken and that the sect represented by CD was essentially Pharisaic, and he published a lengthy set of German articles, in many instalments, saying precisely why.29 The impression given by his corrections to Schechter's readings and interpretations, and presumably intended by the author, is that he is the greater talmudist and more brilliant expounder of manuscripts. For his part, Schechter declared that he had "an inveterate objection to reading scientific matter in instalments." This situation created hurt feelings on both sides, with remorse about the clash subsequently being felt by the two academics. Schechter was loath to produce his second edition and take on the task of refuting Ginzberg, while Ginzberg stalled for the rest of his life in the matter of the publication of an English edition of his work. He was willing to disagree with his senior colleague during the latter's lifetime but reticent about carrying on the battle after the Seminary President's death.30

Schechter's hypothesis

The views that Schechter finally adopted were therefore in a number of ways a reflection of ten years' discussion and human interplay, as well as the result of strictly scientific enquiry and deep personal contemplation. He concluded that his work would prove to be a valuable contribution to the history of early Jewish sects, revealing as it did the religious law and theology of a sect long extinct that once enjoyed its own sacred literature, its own calendar and its own interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, and that fathered later traditions at variance with rabbinic Judaism. He saw the special loyalty to the Prophets and the close connections with apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books in general, and with Jubilees, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Enoch in particular, as indicative of adherence to a form of Jewish faith and practice at variance with "official" pharisaic and rabbinic Judaism and, indeed, distinctly hostile to it. Important parallels could be drawn with aspects of Samaritanism and Karaism and with the religious traditions of the Falashas but he had to admit that "the annals of Jewish history contain no record of a Sect agreeing in all points with he one depicted in the preceding pages." He was aware that the state of knowledge in his day was such that only a workable hypothesis was possible and he claimed that he would be delighted if further discoveries would further elucidate the history of the sect, and even upset his own theories.31 Cyrus Adler, who was close to him while he was working on CD, was able to testify soon after his death that Schechter "went about this edition with the greatest caution, as was his custom, and wrote his introduction, and stated his theory with the full realization of the fact that it was an hypothesis and that his conclusions might be attacked, but he deemed it cowardly to simply issue a text with philological notes and not be courageous enough to endeavor to present it in its proper historical and literary setting."32

Schechter's workable hypothesis was that the limited available evidence indicated that CD constituted extracts from the writings of the Zadokites whose existence is noted in Karaite writings, notably those of Qirqisani. The origins of such a sect were likely to be among the Sadducees, not the Pharisees, and the various reports about the Dositheans justified the conclusion that it amalgamated with the Zadokite group and made more proselytes among the Samaritans than among the Jews. The characteristic features of such groups were not, however, wholly clear or consistent and the versions of earlier works presupposed in CD often did not tally with the texts known to us from elsewhere.33 In addition, the readings and interpretations offered for the manuscripts were in no way definitive. Schechter's own words summarize the situation neatly, modestly and cautiously:

The defective state of the MS. and the corrupt condition of the text in so many places make it impossible to draw a complete picture of the Sect. Yet what remains offers us a few distinct features and salient points enabling us to catch a few glimpses of the history of the sect, its claims and its relation to the rest of the nation.34

Responses to the publication

When Schechter had formally arranged with the University of Cambridge to borrow a set of Genizah manuscripts on which he was working and to remove them to New York, the intention had been, according to his fellow donor, Charles Taylor, to return these within two or three years.35 It was, however, not until July, 1910 that the CD and Anan manuscripts were returned to the University Library by Schechter, during an extended visit to Europe, and, indeed, a further fifteen years were to pass before the remaining items found their way back to Cambridge. When he handed the CD fragments over to the University Librarian, Francis Jenkinson, he stipulated - one wonders precisely by what authority, since no special conditions had earlier been attached to CD - that they should not be made available to any other scholar for another five years. Jenkinson did as he was bade but five years to the day later he swiftly had the CD codex bound up, re-attached the two manuscripts to the remainder of the Genizah collection, and made them fully available.36 It seems reasonable to suggest that Schechter's motivation was again to do with his doubts and hesitations. Once he had received the comments and criticisms of his peers, he would be in a position to respond to them, and then he could afford to allow them full access. Not that he was not proud of what he had achieved; he was delighted when Jenkinson expressed interest in reading his two volumes on Jewish sectarians and quickly regaled him with copies of the work. The Librarian dutifully read them but confided to his diary that they were rather out of his depth. When the Jewish philanthropist, musician and bibliophile, Mr James Loeb (founder of the Loeb Classical Library), was in Cambridge, during Schechter's visit to his old academic hunting ground, he welcomed the opportunity of viewing the CD fragments in their editor's presence.37

Schechter's edition was, as Cyrus Adler succinctly put it, "followed by a trail of admiration, criticism, and discussion."38 A host of alternative identifications were made of the sect and the whole subject preoccupied what would today be called the field of Jewish studies, particularly for the remaining five years of Schechter's life. Ginzberg at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York insisted that CD represented an earlier and purer form of Pharisaism than that familiar to the Rabbis and offered a host of alternative readings and interpretations of the texts.39 For Kaufmann Kohler at the Hebrew Union College, the fragments were a remnant of that religious system of the Zadokites, Sadducees, Samaritans and Karaites which preserved ancient and elitist traditions and practices in contrast to the progressive and populist notions of the Pharisees and had been reliably transmitted by the Dositheans.40 The CD fragments were seen by Adolph Büchler, Principal of Jews' College, the Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary in London, as containing the fabricated history of a sect living in Damascus in the seventh or eighth century and as belonging not to any earlier period but to the period of the religious upheavals that preceded the emergence of the Karaite movement.41 It was the link with early Christianity that appealed to George Margoliouth of the British Museum and he dated CD around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, the work of the "Sadducean Christians of Damascus".42 George Foot Moore, the Presbyterian but ecumenical professor of religious studies at Harvard, found himself substantially in agreement with Schechter, equally hesitant about a precise identification but tending to the view that earlier ideas championed by Samaritans and Sadducees had survived long enough "to be gathered...into the capacious bosom of Karaism" and consigned to the Genizah by way of "some Rabbanite controversialist in Egypt".43 The Jewish hebraist, Moses Hirsch Segal, then in England but later at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, added his notes to the text but felt that Schechter's overall interpretation still left scholars in the dark about the sect's origins, relationships with other groups, and place in Jewish history.44

Since part of our remit in this treatment of the subject is to uncover the human angle on the scholarly developments, it is relevant to draw attention to the possibility that a number of those who responded to Schechter's had, even if perhaps only subconsciously, their own religious or personal agendas. Was Ginzberg at least partially motivated by a desire to associate CD with proto-rabbinic Judaism so that his own impressive competence in the talmudic field would become more directly relevant to the topic and provide him with the opportunity of bettering Schechter in finding parallels to CD? Given that Kohler was engaged in religious polemics about the validity of Reform Judaism, did he not welcome the opportunity of demonstrating that talmudic Judaism was the reforming element in its day and that the more ancient and authentic voice was to be found among those groups who took the Scriptures more literally? Did Margoliouth, from a Jewish family who had converted from Judaism and become leading Anglicans, have a special interest in finding kindred spirits who were both Jewish and Christian as long ago as the first century c.e.? Could there be some substance in the suggestion that Moore's favourable response to Schechter's theories was part of his friendly approach to rabbinic Judaism as a whole, arising out of the liberal nature of his modern Christian convictions?45 I wonder also if Büchler harboured a grudge against Schechter for having stolen the Genizah limelight from himself and his uncle, Adolph Neubauer, given that the two of them had actually published fragments from that source before their Cambridge colleague and competitor?46

Angry reactions

What surely cannot be gainsaid is that the two Oxford scholars, Robert Charles47 and David Margoliouth,48 were angry with Schechter and barely hid their feelings in their publications. Distinguished rabbinic scholars such as Schechter and Ginzberg were never slow in demonstrating their contempt for the Christian professors who tackled the history of the Jews and Judaism in the second Temple period without what they regarded as the necessary mastery of post-biblical Hebrew and the earliest rabbinic sources. In this case too, they had scant respect for Charles' work. He for his part, occupied as he was with preparing the classic English edition of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, bitterly resented the exclusive access to the Genizah manuscripts of CD that Schechter had arranged for himself and the restriction of facsimiles to only one folio. According to the Oxford biblical scholar and Christian cleric, Schechter deserved the reprobation of scholars for his selfishness and their criticism for his careless editing and dubious translations.49 Margoliouth was of course Schechter's sparring partner in the whole matter of the Hebrew of Ben Sira50 and the rabbinic specialist's new publishing venture called forth the bitterest invective from the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford. CD was no more than the remains of a Karaite essay dating from no earlier than the eighth century that should have been permitted to remain in its obscurity and the whole Genizah was virtually without value. He expressed himself in the following forthright fashion:

About a score of years ago the University of Cambridge was presented with the contents of a huge waste-paper basket, imported from Egypt, where such stores abound. The material contained in these repositories is almost always valueless, like the gods of the Gentiles unable to do good or harm, and so neither worth preserving nor worth destroying; and the first great product of the Genizah [the Hebrew of Ben Sira] corresponded with this description...
In 1910 Dr. Schechter produced another of these treasures - "Fragments of a Zadokite Work," being some twenty pages of Hebrew text...the ignorance of Hebrew and of the Bible which is displayed by these documents is intolerable... this document also might have slept in its obscurity without serious loss, except perhaps to specialists in the controversy between Rabbanites and Karaites.51

Despite a controversy that Norman Bentwich called "fiercer and more voluminous than that about Ben Sira"52, what virtually all the experts were nevertheless agreed about was that Schechter had laid all scholars of Judaism under his debt by his discovery and publication of CD, had inspired his colleagues to apply themselves afresh to Jewish life and thought from the axial period to the rise of Karaism, and had added even more glory to his name by this work than by his famous contributions to Ben Sira studies. As is well known, Schechter expressed the intention of publishing a second edition, with corrections and additions, with a full facsimile and with a detailed response to all his critics.53 Alas, he failed to do so before he was prematurely summoned to the heavenly academy and scholars had to wait until the Qumran discoveries before the subject was again extensively covered.

Dating of Genizah Manuscripts

In the final part of this paper, it will be appropriate to offer some remarks about how some of the issues raised and the theories offered by Schechter, as well as a number of the responses that they attracted from his contemporaries, compare with the conclusions being reached about CD by a consensus of specialists who have been able to benefit from the discoveries made in the Judean desert since 1947, precisely fifty years ago, and fifty years after Schechter's own forays in the Cairo Genizah. The first question to be asked in this connection is whether the recent developments in Hebrew palaeography provide any indication of the accuracy or otherwise of Schechter's dating of the Genizah manuscripts of CD. The problem that immediately confronts us in this connection is that we are here dealing with a literary and not a documentary text. At the same time, it is neither biblical nor rabbinic. There is therefore a distinct lack of parallels that might assist us in dating and we shall have to wait for further studies to be completed before a more definitive assessment can be made. A few points are, however, worth stressing in the meantime. There are close similarities between our CD manuscripts and texts written in the square oriental style and dated from the eighth to the tenth century. There are no more than a few scribal characteristics that would point to a sophisticated and developed system of transcription.54 On the other hand, there is a standard number of lines, and a larger number of folios than is common for many codices of the period. There is the occasional indication (as has been suggested recently by Beentjes with regard to the Genizah manuscripts of Ben Sira) that the transcription may have been done on the basis of an oral recitation, or one recalled from memory, rather than copies from an exemplar.55 Comparison with a biblical text from 933 c.e. and with an Egyptian square script from a similar period indicates that Schechter's estimate of the tenth century for the fuller manuscript is fairly accurate and that, if any adjustment is to be made, it should be towards the ninth rather than the eleventh century. The situation with regard to the other manuscript is clearer, parallels being found among numerous Genizah texts and indicating that a twelfth, or possibly thirteenth century oriental provenance is highly likely.56

Issue of Canonicity

Schechter did not clearly indicate whether he thought that the appearance of the CD manuscripts in the Genizah pointed to their canonicity in rabbinic, or indeed in any other circles, although he did seem to place them in the context of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature, rather than in that of what he referred to as "official Judaism". The difficulty of using the Genizah provenance to support an assumption of rabbinic canonicity is categorically and even somewhat mischievously highlighted by Louis Ginzberg:

A famous historian of religion has declared in the chief organ of German Oriental studies that the fragments should not be attributed to a particular sect in as much as their discovery in the Genizah of the community of Cairo shows that they were there regarded as canonical. Following out this line of reasoning, the begging letters, the prescriptions for gout and anaemia, the invoices of merchandise and the exercises of schoolboys learning their ABC's, which are all abundantly represented in the Genizah, must have enjoyed canonical status in the community. All that now remains is for the genizah of a community in Lithuania to come to light, and our historians of religion will make the happy discovery that Karl Marx's Das Kapital and Eugene Su''s novel The Mysteries of Paris enjoyed a canonical dignity among the Lithuanian Jews of the nineteenth century. Fragments of these works will inevitably be found in the genizot, which are the ultimate repositories of everything that is written or printed in Hebrew characters; in the eleventh century it may be a sectarian book, and in the nineteenth a novel translated from the French.57

More modern awareness of the problem of drawing conclusions about the rabbinic canonicity of Genizah texts is to be found in recent suggestions made by Menahem Ben-Sasson and Mark Cohen. The Polish Karaite leader, Abraham Firkovich, who was an enthusiastic collector of manuscripts, appeared on the Egyptian scene in 1864-65 and a substantial proportion of his extensive collection undoubtedly came from the Karaite synagogue in Cairo. Firkovich was neither explicit about the provenances of his finds nor averse to doctoring what he found to support an early date for the emergence of Karaism. It therefore remains unclear, even after much recent investigation of the matter by Ben-Sasson, whether or not some of his haul, including many choice historical items, came from the Ben Ezra synagogue. What is clear is that he knew of the importance of its genizah and that, if his financial situation had permitted it, he might have persevered longer in Cairo and pre-empted Schechter's extensive discoveries of more than thirty years later.58 In a paper co-authored with Yedida Stillman, Mark Cohen has pointed out that what is referred to as Genizah material may not all have originated in one depository or in the same synagogue. The nature and location of the genizah in the Ben Ezra synagogue changed from time to time and there were various communal centres in Cairo, Karaite as well as Rabbanite, where such material was stored. Use was also made of the Bassatin cemetery and some items were acquired from local dealers in antiquities, with no information being provided about their previous provenance. Perhaps even more significantly, during the renovations carried out in the Ben Ezra in 1890, manuscripts from its genizah were buried in the synagogal grounds and what was later returned to the inside of the building may have come from various sources.59 Who can therefore be certain about where a particular text was stored, let alone how it was regarded by the community that consigned it to such storage?

Interestingly, the same serious doubts about the definition and extent of canonicity are entertained by contemporary scholars with regard to the manuscripts found at the Dead Sea. It is now widely recognized that some of that precious collection may reflect wider Jewish beliefs and practices and not only those of the groups that settled in and around Qumran. What is being uncovered may consequently testify to a lack of consistency in the matter of the sacred or authoritative status of particular pieces of literature. It is likely that CD enjoyed a greater theological respect among some Jews than it did among others. Indeed, the later evidence of talmudic literature is again somewhat ambivalent. Does the citation of verses from Ben Sira indicate a canonical status, a tolerance of the text as readable but not formally in the synagogue, or the remnant of an earlier approach that preceded its classification as heretical? What also remains open to question is whether one is entitled to draw parallels between the function occupied by texts of Ben Sira and the Testament of Levi on the one hand and those of CD and the apocryphal psalms on other. It is possible that only those more closely concerned with what Haran has called "the biblical vision" could have been transmitted by rabbinic circles. Alternatively, the rabbinic tradition was less central than it later imagined itself to have been and found room at that stage for a wider variety of theological expression. The matter remains almost as open now as it did in Schechter's day.60

Historical links

As far as the establishment of direct historical links between CD and known sects is concerned, it will be recalled that Schechter drew the obvious Samaritan, Karaite and Falasha parallels but was hesitant about precise dates and identifications. He opted for a faith and practice at variance with pharisaic and rabbinic Judaism and originating in some form of Sadducean and Zadokite Judaism, albeit transmitted by a Dosithean sect. He saw the literary context as that of the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings and looked forward to further discoveries that would elucidate the history of those who wrote and transmitted. Somewhat remarkably, if one examines the latest scholarly views on such matters, they are not so much at variance with what Schechter proposed and with the cautious approach he advised. Some see the Nestorian Patriarch Timotheus's report of around 800 c.e. as the clue to the adoption by the Karaites of earlier views, as found in the caves,61 while others argue that other historical and theological factors must have been more dominant. There are scholars who trace the ideas to be found in Second Temple sects and literature and among the Manicheans, through aspects of rabbinic Judaism and early Muslim groups in Iraq as well as in the Holy Land, to their successful incorporation, not necessarily with consistency or theological intent, into Karaism. There is also opposition to such an interpretation on the part of those who prefer to see the novelty of some Karaite traditions and a direct debt to Islam in the case of others, and point to the fact that Karaites themselves did not claim a Sadducean origin and expressed themselves in all manner of ways.62

If one carefully reads the conclusions of those who have recently summarized the content and significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one can hear echoes of some of Schechter's remarks of almost a century ago. Such a comprehensive, careful and balanced treatment as that offered three years ago by Larry Schiffman talks of the leading role of the Zadokite priests and the major impact of the Sadducean approach. He refers to the presence of Samaritan traditions, to the common heritage of apocryphal literature, and to the presence among the Judean scrolls of works originating among a number of Jewish groups. Although he argues that sectarian groups such as the Essenes and the Sadducees disappeared as independent entities after the destruction of the Second temple, he acknowledges that some of their traditions remained in circulation long enough to influence the Karaites and that some of the texts found at Qumran circulated in different versions among the Jews of the early Middle Ages.63 Specifically about CD, Schiffman writes:

From the very first discovery of what we now know to be a Qumran text - the Zadokite Fragments found in the Cairo genizah - it was clear that the new material would be of great importance for our understanding of the history and development of Jewish law. When the Qumran library itself was discovered, the presence of multiple copies of that text, as well as other halakhic material, made clear that the new texts had much to teach us in this area of research... The nine copies of the Zadokite Fragments found at Qumran confirm the general reliability of the medieval copies of this text. At the same time, the Qumran texts have doubled the size of the preserved text known to us.64

Given that achievement, and the additional realization that his interpretations have retained more than a little value, we can, in conclusion, express wholehearted agreement with the evaluation of his CD edition offered by Büchler who unabashedly opted for the medieval Karaite hypothesis but nevertheless noted, as have a number of today's specialists in the field,65 scholarship's debt to Schechter:

Let us be grateful to Professor Schechter for his discovery and for the thoroughness with which he has elucidated many of the most difficult points; and especially for the many-sided commentary and the learned introduction in which he has drawn our attention to the numerous problems awaiting solution. Even if his find should not prove to be an early Zadokite has drawn the attention of the literary world to a chapter of Jewish history which has rightly invited the collaboration of many great minds and will long continue in attracting and captivating our best scholars.66


1 J. Katz, With My Own Eyes. The Autobiography of an Historian (E. T., Hanover and London, 1995; original Hebrew Bemo Enay, Jerusalem, 1989), p. x. These introductory remarks do not appear in the Hebrew edition. [Back to text]

2 Some of the relevant issues are touched on in the entry 'History' in The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 20 (Chicago, 1991), pp. 572-74 and much of the debate was fired by the controversial study of the subject by E. H. Carr, What is History? The George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge January-March 1961 (Basingstoke and London, 1961; second edition, ed. R. W. Davies, 1986), especially pp. 1-24. The quotation is from p. 3. [Back to text]

3 Such an interest in mundane details and in personalities is exemplified in two recent exhibitions mounted at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and at Cambridge University Library, to mark the centenary of Solomon Schechter's famous and successful visit to Cairo early in 1897; see the exhibition catalogues The Cairo Genizah: A Mosaic of Life, ed. D. Raccah-Djivre (Jerusalem, 1997) and History in Fragments: A Genizah Centenary Exhibition, eds. Shulie and Stefan Reif (Cambridge, 1998). [Back to text]

4 S. C. Reif, "The Discovery of the Cambridge Genizah Fragments of Ben Sira: Scholars and Texts", The Book of Ben Sira in Modern Research, ed. P. C. Beentjes (Berlin, New York, 1997), pp. 1-22. [Back to text]

5 These and the following quotations from Mrs Schechter are to be found in her memoirs, located in the Schechter Papers at the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. I am grateful to the Library for permission to use and cite this and similar material. [Back to text]

6 Reif, "The Discovery" (n. 4 above), pp. 3-11. [Back to text]

7 I welcome the opportunity of recording my gratitude to Professor Michael Stone and Dr Esther Chazon for organising the symposium and for their kind invitation to me to participate in it. [Back to text]

8 The line occurs in his poem Ta a Mouse. On turning her up in her nest with the plough, November, 1785 (Kilmarnock edition, 1786), the first line of which reads: 'Wee, sleeket, cowrin, timrous beastie'. [Back to text]

9 G. Margoliouth, "The Sadducean Christians of Damascus", The Athenaeum no. 4335, 26 November, 1910, p. 659. [Back to text]

10 S. Schechter, Documents of Jewish Sectaries, vol. I, Fragments of a Zadokite Work (Cambridge, 1910). The classmarks of the two CD manuscripts at Cambridge University Library are T-S 10K6 and T-S 16.311. [Back to text]

11 Details are given in S. C. Reif, "Jenkinson and Schechter at Cambridge: An Expanded and Updated Assessment", Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 32 (1993), pp. 279-316. See also the first paragraph of the article by 'an occasional correspondent' under the title 'Facts and Fictions about Aquila', Jewish Chronicle, 15 October, 1897, p. 21. [Back to text]

12 S. Schechter, "Work in the Cambridge-Cairo Genizah", Jewish Chronicle, 1 April, 1898, p. 26. [Back to text]

13 Papers prepared for the Cambridge University Library Syndicate and presented to them at their meetings of 24 October, 1900 (minute 10; data prepared by Pass) and 14 November, 1900 (minute 7; data prepared by Norman McLean and A. T. Chapman); and Cambridge University Reporter, no. 1360 (12 June, 1901), pp. 1088 and 1107-8. [Back to text]

14 Jonathan D. Sarna, "Two Traditions of Seminary Scholarship" in Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, ed. Jack Wertheimer (New York, 1997), Vol. 2: Beyond the Academy, p. 62. His comments are based on Schechter to Sulzberger, 5 November 1901, in M. Ben-Horin, "Solomon Schechter to Judge Mayer Sulzberger", Jewish Social Studies 25 (1963), p. 285 and Joseph Jacobs, "Solomon Schechter as Scholar and as Man," Jewish Theological Seminary Students Annual 3 (1916), p. 99. [Back to text]

15 Norman Bentwich, Solomon Schechter. A Biography (Philadelphia, 1938), p. 263. [Back to text]

16 Cyrus Adler, "Solomon Schechter: A Biographical Sketch", American Jewish Year Book 5677 [1916-17], p. 53. [Back to text]

17 Appendix II of Library Syndicate's report for 1899, entitled 'Report of the Reader in Talmudic on the Taylor-Schechter Collection', dated 6 May, 1900, published in the Cambridge University Reporter, no. 1308 (15 June, 1900), pp. 1082-83. [Back to text]

18 Appendix II of Library Syndicate's report for 1900, entitled 'Report of the Curator in Oriental Literature on the Taylor-Schechter Collection', dated 18 March, 1901, published in the Cambridge University Reporter, no. 1360 (12 June, 1901), pp. 1107-8. [Back to text]

19 These details appear on the copy of a typed sheet relating to the Loan Collection that Schechter took to New York and bound together with the fragments in binder T-S Misc. 35.1-57. [Back to text]

20 K. Kohler, "Dositheus, the Samaritan Heresiarch, and his Relations to Jewish and Christian Doctrines and Sects", American Journal of Theology xv, 1911, p. 406. [Back to text]

21 Jewish Comment xvi, no. 12, Baltimore, 2 January 1903, p. 11. I am grateful to Dr Michael Grunberger of the Library of Congress for kindly providing me with a copy of this page. [Back to text]

22 Compare his Aboth de Rabbi Nathan (Vienna, 1887); Agadath Shir Hashirim (Cambridge, 1896); and (with S. Singer) Talmudical Fragments in the Bodleian Library (Cambridge, 1896). [Back to text]

23 S. Schechter, Documents of Jewish Sectaries, vol. I, Fragments of a Zadokite Work (Cambridge, 1910), preface. [Back to text]

24 For biographical details, see Baila Round Shargel, Practical Dreamer: Israel Friedlander and the Shaping of American Judaism (New York, 1985).[Back to text]

25 Shargel, Practical Dreamer (n. 24 above), p. 68. [Back to text]

26 On various aspects of Schechter's Genizah initiatives with his Seminary colleagues, see S. C. Reif, "The Cambridge Genizah Story: Some Unfamiliar Aspects" (Hebrew) in Te`uda 15, ed. M. A. Friedman (in the press). [Back to text]

27 Eli Ginzberg, Louis Ginzberg: Keeper of the Law - A Personal Memoir (reprint of 1966 edition with 'afterword' by EG, Philadelphia and Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 90 and 95-96. [Back to text]

28 Ginzberg, Keeper (n. 27 above), p. 119. [Back to text]

29 Ginzberg's response to Schechter's publication first appeared in a series of article entitled "Eine unbekannte jüdische Sekte" in the Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, vol. 55 (1911), pp. 666-98, vol. 56 (1912), pp. 33-48, 285-307, 417-48, 546-66, 664-89, vol. 57 (1913), pp. 153-76, 284-308, 394-418, 666-96, and vol. 58 (1914), pp. 16-48, 143-77, and 395-429. It was then published in one volume as Eine unbekannte jüdische Sekte (New York, 1922) and in a posthumous English edition entitled An Unknown Jewish Sect (New York, 1976), with a foreword by Eli Ginzberg. [Back to text]

30 S. Schechter, "Reply to Dr. Büchler's Review of Schechter's 'Jewish Sectaries'", JQR 4 NS, 1913-14, p. 474; Adler, "Schechter" (n. 16 above), pp. 50-51; An Unknown Jewish Sect (n. 29 above), EG's foreword, p. x. [Back to text]

31 Schechter, Fragments (n. 23 above), especially pp. xii, xvi, xviii, xxi-xxii, xxv-xxix. [Back to text]

32 Adler, "Schechter" (n. 16 above), p. 51. [Back to text]

33 Schechter, Fragments (n. 23 above), pp. xxi-xxii, xxv-xxix. [Back to text]

34 Schechter, Fragments (n. 23 above), p. xii. [Back to text]

35 One of the conditions of the gift of the Genizah collection made by Taylor and Schechter was that the donors should have exclusive access to the fragments of Ben Sira and the Greek palimpsests until they had completed their editions of them but Taylor had indicated that this would be done within two or three years; see Cambridge University Reporter, no. 1215, 14 June, 1898, pp. 968-69. For the whole story of the Loan Collection, see S. C. Reif, "The Cambridge Genizah Story: Some Unfamiliar Aspects" (Hebrew) in Te`uda 15, ed. M. A. Friedman (in the press). [Back to text]

36 See the bound volumes catalogue in the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library under T-S 10K6 and the personal diary of Jenkinson for 20 July, 1910 (Add. 7433), p. 201. [Back to text]

37 See the personal diary of Jenkinson for 19-20 and 31 December, 1910 (Add. 7433), pp. 353-54 and 365, and for 16 January, 1911 (Add. 7434), p. 16; also Schechter's letters to Jenkinson from the Kingsley Hotel in London dated 27 December, 1910, and 11 January, 1911 (Add. 6463.7061 and 7072). [Back to text]

38 Adler, "Schechter" (n. 16 above), p. 51. [Back to text]

39 Ginzberg, An Unknown Jewish Sect (n. 29 above), p. xviii. [Back to text]

40 Kohler, "Dositheus" (n. 20 above), pp. 404-35. [Back to text]

41 Büchler, "Schechter's 'Jewish Sectaries'", JQR 3 NS (1912-13), pp. 429-85. [Back to text]

42 G. Margoliouth, "The Sadducean Christians of Damascus", The Athenaeum no. 4335, 26 November, 1910, pp. 657-59; The Expositor 2, 1911, pp. 499-517. [Back to text]

43 Moore, "The Covenanters of Damascus: A Hitherto Unknown Jewish Sect", Harvard Theological Review 4 (1911), pp. 331-77, especially p. 377. [Back to text]

44 Segal, "Additional Notes on 'Fragments of a Zadokite Work'", JQR 3 (1912-13), pp. 301-311. [Back to text]

45 In addition to the biographical details about Ginzberg contained in his son Eli's volume (n. 27 above), see also essays by M. J. Kohler and D. Philipson in Kohler's Festschrift entitled Studies in Jewish Literature (Berlin, 1913) and the new introduction by J. L. Blau to the reprint of Kohler's Jewish Theology Systematically and Theologically Considered (New York, 1968); the entry for George Margoliouth in Who Was Who 1916-1928 (London, 1929), p. 540, with general information on the Margoliouth family to be found in W. T. Gidney, The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, from 1809 to 1908 (London, 1908), pp. 16-17, 216, 247, 281, 399, 534-35 and 626 and in David S. Katz, The Jews in the History of England (Oxford, 1994), pp. 379-80; and Morton Smith's appreciation of 'The Work of George Foot Moore' in the Harvard Library Bulletin 15 (1967), 169-79. [Back to text]

46 For an account of the degree to which they pre-empted Schechter, see S. C. Reif, "Fragments of Anglo-Jewry", The Jewish Year Book 1998, pp. lviii-lxvii. Biographical details of Büchler by Isidore Epstein appear in his posthumously published Studies in Jewish History, eds. I. Brodie and J. Rabbinowitz (London, New York, Toronto, 1956), pp. xiii-xxii. [Back to text]

47 In his obituary of Charles published in the Proceedings of the British Academy 17 (1931), pp. 437-45, the Cambridge paleographer who had worked with Schechter on the Genizah fragments, Francis Burkitt, referred to the fact that Charles "was not very patient of adverse criticism." [Back to text]

48 There is an apprecation of D. S. Margoliouth by G. Murray in the Proceedings of the British Academy 36 (London, 1940), pp. 389-97; see also n. 45 above regarding the Margoliouth family. [Back to text]

49 R. H. Charles, Fragments of a Zadokite Work Translated from the Cambridge Hebrew Text and Edited with Introduction, Notes and Indexes (Oxford, 1912), especially the preface and the introduction, pp. xvi-xvii. [Back to text]

50 Reif, "The Discovery" (n. 4 above), pp. 4-8. [Back to text]

51 D. S. Margoliouth, "The Zadokites", The Expositor 6 (1913), pp. 157-64, especially pp. 157, 159 and 164. [Back to text]

52 Bentwich, Schechter (n. 15 above), p. 159. [Back to text]

53 Schechter, "Reply" (n. 30 above), p. 474; Adler, Schechter (n. 16 above),p. 51. [Back to text]

54 An excellent facsimile is now available in the edition of M. Broshi, The Damascus Document Reconsidered (Jerusalem, 1992). [Back to text]

55 Many commentators have drawn attention to what they regard as the poor transmission, either oral or textual, of the Genizah CD versions. See also P. C. Beentjes, "Reading the Hebrew Ben Sira Manuscripts Synoptically: A New Hypothesis" in The Book of Ben Sira (n. 4 above), pp. 95-111. [Back to text]

56 S. A. Birnbaum, The Hebrew Scripts, 2 parts (London, 1954-57, 1971), plates 91*-93 and 185-86; M. Beit-Ariè, Hebrew Codicology: Tentative Typology of Technical Practices Employed in Hebrew Dated Medieval Manuscripts (Paris, 1977; Jerusalem, 1981), plate 21; and the general treatment of the subject by B. Richler, Hebrew Manuscripts: A Treasured Legacy (Cleveland and Jerusalem, 1990). [Back to text]

57 Ginzberg, An Unknown Jewish Sect (n. 29 above), preface, p. xvii. [Back to text]

58 The origins of the Firkovich collection and its relationship to Genizah collections in general are analysed by Menahem Ben-Sasson in an article entitled "Firkovich's Second Collection: Remarks on Historical and Halakhic Material" in Jewish Studies 31 (1991), pp. 47-67, with an update in a lecture prepared by himself and Ze'ev Elkin for the Ben Zvi Institute in February, 1997 and entitled "Abraham Firkovich and the Cairo Genizah: New Evidence". The text of this lecture is expected to be published shortly in Pe`amim. [Back to text]

59 Mark Cohen and Yedida Stillman, "The Cairo Geniza and the Custom of Geniza among Oriental Jewry: An Historical and Ethnographical Study", Pe`amim 24 (1985), pp. 3-35. [Back to text]

60 M. Haran, The Biblical Collection: Its Consolidation to the End of the Second Temple Times and Changes of Form to the End of the Middle Ages (Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1996), especially chs. 3 and 5, pp. 141-200 and 276-303; S. C. Reif, the entry "Cairo Genizah" in the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, eds. L. H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam (New York, 1998). [Back to text]

61 Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (second edition, Oxford, 1959), p. 16. [Back to text]

62 For a useful summary of the issues and arguments, see the exchanges, in Hebrew, between Y. Erder and H. Ben-Shammai, Cathedra 42 (1987), pp. 54-86. [Back to text]

63 Lawrence H. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls. The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran (Philadelphia and Jerusalem, 1994), especially pp. 76, 89, 101, 113, 130, 167, 178, 185-86, 192, 195, 198, 253, 274, 403, and 408-9. [Back to text]

64 Schiffman, Reclaiming (n. 63 above), pp. 245 and 273-74. [Back to text]

65 See, for example, P. R. Davies, The Damascus Covenant: An Interpretation of the "Damascus Document" (Sheffield, 1983), introduction pp. 5-7, where he favourably assesses Schechter's work and argues that the Dosithean theory is 'one of the few elements... that has not borne fruit in subsequent research.' [Back to text]

66 Büchler, "Schechter's 'Jewish Sectaries'" (n. 41 above), p. 485. [Back to text]

Please send comments or inquiries to the Orion Center at