Parallels Without "Parallelomania"
on Comparative Analysis of Halakha in the Dead Sea Scrolls
As is well known-and has been impressively confirmed by this conference-, comparative analy-sis of halakhah in the Dead Sea Scrolls has gained increasing interest in the last decades. After the almost single voices of Solomon Schechter, Chanoch Albeck and especially Louis Ginzberg in the desert of pre-Qumran scholarship, and after a regrettable lack of interest in the initial phase of Qum-ran studies-with some notable exceptions-it was especially the pioneering work of Joseph Baum-garten and Lawrence Schiffman that provided the ground, together with other scholars like Yigael Yadin, Jacob Milgrom or Elisha Qimron, for the transformation of comparative research of the Scrolls' halakhah into a veritable field of studies. Several collections with contributions, also from other scholars, have been published. This process was greatly advanced by the publication of the Temple Scroll in 1977 (1983), of 4QMMT in 1994, and recently of DJD 35 Halakhic Texts (1999). In view of this increased prominence of the comparative approach surprisingly little attention has been given to the methodology of halakhic comparison. Thus, preparing this paper, I have found that none of the various "golden jubilee" volumes of Scrolls research contains a single article de-voted specifically to comparative methodology, at least in the realm of halakhah. Neither have I noted characteristic title formulations pertinent to this issue in the two most recent bibliographies or in the recent encyclopedia.
It seems that time is ripe for pausing for a moment, for assessing what has been done in this re-spect, what may be learned from other efforts in associated disciplines, and what seem methodo-logical requirements for future research.
1. An outline of a method
The most detailed outline of a method in comparative analysis so far has been provided by Law-rence Schiffman. In his 1975 The Halakhah at Qumran he devoted a ten-page paragraph to reflec-tion on comparative sources (Bible, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Rabbinic lit-erature, and texts by other Jewish groups). On comparison proper one finds only some initial remarks. In his 1983 Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls Schiffman expanded these remarks to a valuable description of a method. This, in turn, has been incorporated, together with the reflections on comparative sources, into a 1993 update, published in Hebrew under the title hdwhj rbdm tkb twjxjfmw hkjlh ,hklh. Schiffman de-scribes his method as "both philological and historical, both synchronic and diachronic. Each text is understood first as an individual passage, then within the context of its document and of the Qum-ran corpus in general. It is then compared to other Jewish legal texts and traditions in an effort to provide a wider background for its explanation and in order to fix its place in the history of Jewish law." In detail this method starts from establishing the text from the manuscript evidence. It then comes to philological notes, such as "explanation of the linguistic usages, legal terminology, and parallel passages in the Hebrew Bible." The latter is especially important for Schiffman, since he thinks that halakhah at Qumran originated in inspired exegesis of the Biblical text, a view that has been, however, contested by other scholars. (Time does not allow me to expand on this issue here. Suffice it to say that to my mind more weight should be given to the process of legal elaboration that responded to certain needs of life and was reached mainly independent from Biblical texts-maybe except for either some initial impulse from the Bible or secondary relation to a text or both-, or, to put it otherwise, that expanded more on Biblically grounded subjects than on Biblical texts.) Schiffman rightly argues that preparing these philological notes constitutes one of the most important analytical steps. The next step would then be to understand the single passage "in the context of the wider document in which it appears … Then it may be illuminated by additional ma-terial from the other documents of the sect." In the Hebrew update Schiffman adds that in case of differences in content or form that emerge in comparison with other Qumran documents one should reckon with halakhic development or with different currents in the thought of the sect. After this, it comes to comparison "with other corpora of Jewish law. … Most relevant will be the Second Commonwealth and Talmudic sources, especially those which can be dated to the Tannaitic pe-riod."
2. Putting the method in context: "Halachageschichtliche" comparison
It seems to me that in an overall evaluation this method can claim to be sound. I would think that many of us work from similar methodical guidelines. In my own work on the sabbath law and prac-tice-not only in the Dead Sea Scrolls but in Second Temple Judaism in general and in the New Testament-I have adopted a modification of Schiffman's approach, dubbing it "halachageschicht-liche" comparison, recalling the more familiar exegetical terms "religionsgeschichtliche" and "tra-ditionsgeschichtliche" comparison (the German language has always been good in terming so-and-so-"geschichtliche" methods!). By this I wanted to make clear (a) that, first of all, we are dealing with a historical method, not with a purely documentary approach, and (b) that such a comparative method regarding both the Scrolls and halakhah could not be a method sui generis, totally idiosyn-cratic within the methodological universe of the Humanities. This is true even despite the fact that pioneers like Baumgarten and Schiffman had to work almost from scratch regarding methodology. Nevertheless, such a method should be integrated into the greater context of methodological dis-course within the Humanities. I am aware that in this respect there may be different areas of inter-section, such as the comparative approach in jurisprudence or the comparative method within the scholarship on Rabbinic literature. Nevertheless, in what follows I wish to concentrate on another field, namely comparative methods in Religious and especially Biblical studies, not only since this is the discipline of my own training (and it is from here that I have taken the models for my labeling of the method), but also because I think the material, historical, and literary problems of the scrolls call for an especially close attention to the set of methods developed here. There have been in recent years two main focal points of methodological discussion in this field that have an impact on our subject which should, in my view, be thoroughly assessed. The first one regards the nature of "comparison," the second one the importance of "synchronic" analysis. I think that these two is-sues help us to clarify our methodology and in consequence will contribute to an even greater re-finement of our method.
3. Reflections on "comparison"
Ever since Samuel Sandmel, in 1961, charged Biblical scholarship with "parallelomania," i.e., the excessive piling up of ancient parallels without reflecting much upon their applicability, scholars in this field have tried to rectify the methodological flaw rightly detected by Sandmel. To be clear on this: Many of Sandmel's charges do obviously not apply to the way the study of halakhah in the Scrolls is normally carried out today, e.g., his accusation that scholars work from collections of "parallels", such as Strack-Billerbeck, instead of from the sources themselves. And clear is also that Sandmel's own application of the term "parallelomania"-as well as that of the "French book of about 1830", from which he had adopted it-was aimed mainly at New Testament studies and the way Jewish and Non-Jewish sources were piled up there. But I think the methodological problems of comparison in relation to the Scrolls are not totally, but at best gradually different from the field criticized by Sandmel. Notably the nature of "parallels" and the end to which we compare are prob-lems that occur in all kinds of comparative study in Biblical scholarship and related fields, and con-sequently they need our attention, too.
Scholars in history of religions and comparative religion have offered some ideas on these prob-lems in the last decades. A profiled position has been voiced, in this respect, by Jonathan Z. Smith in his Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, published in 1990 under the title Drudgery Divine. Of general interest is especially its foundational chapter "On Comparison". Smith argues that com-parison is neither properly used when it is intended to demonstrate the uniqueness of a religious phenomenon-typical especially for Protestant scholarship in the past-, nor when it shall prove full identity of two phenomena. Both attempts, according to Smith, miss the essence of comparison, which consists of a mixture of identity and difference, i.e., analogy. Therefore, "all comparisons are properly analogical." This notion is clearly indebted to the Aristotelian tradition of defining the analogous as the "middle" (me,son) between the univocal and the equivocal, which builds itself upon the mathematical definition of the analogy among the Pythagoreans: Analogy is a correspondence of different proportions with respect to the same logos (avna. to.n auvto.n lo,gon). Thus, every analogy necessarily prompts the question, with respect to what is identity and difference being noted. At the same time, Smith insists that all comparisons "are the result of mental operations," since "we are comparing relations and aspects and not things," which means that "[s]imilarity and difference are not 'given'," but in a controlled way created in the scholar's mind. Thus, according to Smith, a comparison "is a disciplined exaggeration in the service of knowledge."
These seem to be helpful remarks. They match well with the recent methodological considera-tion that there is a piece of fictionality in any historical work (which I sometimes miss in the way historical work presents itself), without surrendering, however, to complete fancifulness that de-clares anything goes in historical research. There are, however, certain problems with Smith's ap-proach, especially from the point of view of historically interested scholarship. His approach is clearly that of comparative religion, not of history of religions. He maintains that when it comes to direct dependence of sources or traditions, analogy is no longer present, quoting John Stuart Mill: "if we have the slightest reason to suppose any real connection between … A and B, the argument is no longer one of analogy." Consequently, Smith is not interested in these kinds of relationships and tries to keep them outside the scope of his study. But I think we shouldn't follow him here. First, the conclusion mentioned is not convincing; even historically related phenomena should be considered analogous, since they belong to different times and contexts while having common fea-tures. Second, since we attempt at a both synchronic and historic understanding of the Scrolls and the other varieties of Ancient Judaism we cannot be content with a purely phenomenological com-parison (later more on that). What may be learned, though, is the need to dissociate the question of historical relationship from comparison proper and treat it as a methodical step of its own. Thus, the first step of comparison should treat alleged "parallels" as analogies. Only the second step should then proceed to ask about the genesis of these "parallels": Is their relationship one of mere analogy or is their similarity mediated through direct dependence? It follows that the term "anal-ogy" is used here in two different or, cum grano salis, analogous ways: First as a heading for all possible "parallels", describing a purely phenomenological enterprise, and second as a judgement as to one option of historical relationship between "parallels".
The basics for this second question have been already reflected by Adolf Deissmann in his Licht vom Osten (4th ed., 1923; English translation, 1927). Deissmann writes that in every comparison the question must be asked: "Is it analogy or is it genealogy?" His general rule is that where "it is a case of inward emotions and religious experiences …, I should always try first to regard the particu-lar fact as 'analogical'. Where it is a case of a formula, a professional liturgical usage, or the formu-lation of some doctrine, I should always try first to regard the particular fact as 'genealogical'." This assignment is, of course, hardly tenable in itself, and it does not help much in the case of halakhic comparison.
Deissmann's binary opposition analogy-genealogy has been refined in subsequent research. An extreme example is the vast catalogue of categories provided by Klaus Berger and Carsten Colpe in their Religionsgeschichtliches Textbuch zum Neuen Testament (1987), divided into categories re-cording contrast and such recording similarity, the first group consisting of ten categories, the sec-ond one of no less than fourteen. It would take too long even to spell these categories out here. While many of their details are valuable, Berger and Colpe have rightly been criticized for provid-ing too complex a catalogue, which is hardly manageable and contains some idiosyncratic defini-tions that do not facilitate its use. Nevertheless, they have pointed out the complexities of compari-son.
Other scholars have been more modest. Thus, Hans-Josef Klauck distinguishes, as far as mere analogies are concerned, between (a) archetypal constellations, (b) anthropological universalities, and (c) parallel endogenous developments. For the assumption of genealogical dependence, how-ever, he demands stricter standards. According to Klauck, the possibility of historical transmission of an item must be shown. This calls, among others, for reflection on chronology and geographical extension. Karlheinz Müller, a former Würzburg colleague of Klauck and an expert both in New Testament and Jewish studies, concurs with this stringency. He offers four categories regarding di-rect historical relationship: (a) adoption without modification; (b) adaptation within certain limits; (c) reorganization of the material; and (d) its traceable rejection. An update and refinement of Klauck's and Müller's proposals has been recently provided by Gerald Seelig in his monograph Religionsgeschichtliche Methode in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart (2001). In my own work on the sabbath I have further distinguished, besides purely analogical regulations, between participation in common tradition and immediate dependence of a literary nature. I have argued that for participa-tion in common tradition one has to hypothesize or better discern "turntables" of transmission. As long as the ways of transmission are not at least basically clear, one has to reckon with the option of analogy.
4. The impact on the comparison of halakhah in the Dead Sea scrolls
How can the pertinent methodical work profit from this review of current methodological debate? First, I think we should pay close attention to the essence of comparison suggested by this debate. That implies that halakhic comparison, too, has first of all to do with analogical entities, neither with completely identical ones nor with totally divergent ones (as long as there is at all any similar-ity). While the notion of complete variance (cf. Herbert Braun's views on Qumran and Jesus) has been rightly criticized and mostly abandoned, we should also avoid the trap of plainly identifying halakhic issues. To be sure, halakhic regulations have a somewhat more restricted semantical range than, say, statements in the field of beliefs and ideas. To this should be added the correct observa-tion that the fact of a common language in both the scrolls and Tannaitic literature greatly facilitates comparison. Thus, "to carry out" (acj hi.) on the sabbath is likely to have the same meaning both in the scrolls (CD 11:7-8; 4Q251 1-2 4-5; 4Q265 6 4-5) and in Tannaitic literature (m. Shab. 7:2 etc.). However, this term does not appear in isolation, but within a given syntax and in combina-tion with other expressions having their own semantical impact. This may lead, in fact, to different alignments and associations, thus to a different "conceptionalization" of that term in the various sources, an example I will take up again later in my paper. Therefore, one should always be aware of the possibility that halakhic expressions or issues-and sometimes even terms-do not fully cor-respond. In fact, methodologically speaking, they cannot be identical since they appear in different contexts and come from different times. They can only be analogical in the first sense mentioned before. Even if single terms are identical or almost identical, a full-scale linguistic analysis is needed. In Biblical studies this has meanwhile become a matter of course. I shall only point to the various notions of hrwt in the Hebrew Bible or of no,moj in the New Testament, despite their occurrence in one and the same language each, not to speak of a cross comparison. In Qumran scholarship this issue has been raised by Yaakov Elman who questioned the simple linguistic equa-tion of twqcwm in 4QMMT B 55-58 with the Rabbinic expression qwcjn (m. Yad. 4:7 and elsewhere) and called more specifically for a systemic analysis of the pertinent regulations. I shall come back to this in my final paragraph.
A second consequence of the methodological debate concerns historical relationship. It must al-ways be thoroughly examined what kind of relationship is at stake. The problem in analysis of the scrolls is, of course, that many-if not most-of the sources compared are to be dated later than the scrolls. I think this fact should be taken more seriously than is being done sometimes. Again, some-thing may be gleaned from Biblical studies and its reaction to Sandmel's charges of "paralleloma-nia". There, the uncritical piling up of parallels of a later date, be it Gnostic or Rabbinic, has been given up in favor of a critical assessment of what can really be assumed for comparison (this is meant by Klauck's and Müller's insistence on chronology). Back to the scrolls, this line of reason-ing gives, on the one hand, more weight to comparison with those few halakhic sources that are indeed older than, say, documents composed by the Yachad-especially those that have been cop-ied in Qumran for which, consequently, a literary connection can be established, such as Jubilees or the Temple Scroll. On the other hand it urges more caution as to the employment of later sources. To make it plain: Every historical comparison with a later text is a somewhat risky enterprise. This is especially true for Rabbinic texts, since they are-somehow conversely to their linguistic apt-ness-among the latest sources considered fit for comparison (leaving the medieval Karaite, Sa-maritan, and Falasha sources aside here). In this respect, to stress that one draws especially on Tan-naitic texts is hardly enough to abide by critical standards. These texts may well be 300 years younger than the scrolls compared with. This calls for a form-, tradition- and redaction-historical analysis of Mishna, Tosefta, and early Midrashim, as well as a critical assessment of baraitot and single traditions in the Talmudim, a task which is by no means complete, but for which there are guidelines in the work of Rabbinic scholarship (and it is to be regretted that some of Rabbinic stud-ies in America, but also in Germany, has almost completely moved away from the historical and tradition-historical question).
But even when we take the earliest strata of Tannaitic literature, there is some gap regarding time. While we can compare positions, we do not have two contemporary texts for comparison. Of course, one can point to the counter-positions that are reflected in the scrolls. But caution is in order here, too. First, these positions can sometimes only be hypothetically reconstructed, and important details remain unknown to us. And, second, even if the counter-positions may be determined with some certainty we do not know whether they form a coherent tradition that can serve as the missing link between the scrolls and Rabbinic Judaism. A lot depends, of course, on our overall theory about group formation, affiliation, and stability through the course of time. Of heuristic value are also suggestions as to an overall halakhic worldview, which would have generated, with some pre-dictability, the one-and not the other-halakhic option. But even here it is difficult to decide whether such positions have been materially inherited or reached by way of analogy. In the realm of halakhah, one should reckon with the option of analogy because all Jews in antiquity worked from the legal legacy of the "Bible"-in its various, growing forms, with certain differences, which are, however, of rather limited size concerning our specific question-and had to face similar problem in determining conduct in daily life. Thus, it is unclear if the Boëthusians' attitude to the cutting of the 'Omer is a material inheritance from a Jubilees-/Qumran-like position-but then in the frame-work of a different calendar-or an analogous position reached by a similar understanding of tbf in Lev 23:11. Maybe it was not the material prescription that was preserved through the calendar adjustments, but rather the hermeneutical outlook on Bible as well as life.
One has to be especially cautious with the e silentio supposition of Rabbinic categories and concep-tionalizations, either assuming them for the scrolls or for their halakhic opponents. To give some examples from the field of sabbath law: (1) One should not, to my mind, presuppose the full range of Rabbinic fpn xwqjp in the scrolls. Rather, the regulation in 4Q265 6 6-7 "and if it is a human being that falls into the water / (on the day of) the sabbath, let him cast his garment to him to raise him up therewith, but an implement he may not carry" systemically points to a different solution: allowing for something that is not considered an instrument, a position that rather con-trasts with Rabbinic options in such a case. (2) Another example is the category of muqtseh, which we see at best only in its state of nascence in the scrolls, namely when it is forbidden to prepare anything that is being drunk or eaten (Jub. 2:29; CD 10:22 %kwm; cf. Exod 16:5), but which is, as an outspoken category, not (yet?) extended to other areas of "preparation". (3) Even such seem-ingly simple things like the well-known "domains" for carrying (reshut ha-yachid and reshut ha-rabbim, in Rabbinic terminology) have been conceptionalized differently. Jubilees (2:29) specifies the doors of the house as boundary, consequently prohibiting to carry from house to house (2:30). Like in Jubilees, the rubrics in CD (11:7-9) are the house and the outside, whereas Miscellaneous Rules (4Q265 6 4-5) mentions the tent, obviously also a dwelling equivalent to (or metaphorically denoting) the house. The Tannaitic concept of the "domains" (cf. m. Shabb. 1:1; 7:2), on the con-trary, allows for carrying into a shared courtyard between houses (thus also from house to house) and a blind alleyway under the condition that an eruv chatserot has been prepared, and it incorpo-rates not only dwellings but also wells and orchards into the "private domain" (m. Er. 2). In all this, I do not wish to deny the similarity. This similarity is a clear sign of comparable agendas. But it is a similarity with a certain degree of divergence in detail.
5. A word on synchronic exegesis
I have already several times touched upon the issue of synchronic exegesis. I would like to close with a few considerations on this issue. Two aspects require, to my mind, some further attention:
First, the relation between diachronic and synchronic methods. How these methods relate to one another remains at times obscure in current scholarship. While synchronic methods are increasingly employed in historically oriented studies, there is a branch of synchronically working scholars who deem both aspects incompatible with one another. Diachronic exegesis is questioned from different sides: from the various kinds of structural exegesis, from mainly documentary and systemic analy-sis, from purely comparative approaches, as well as from champions of postmodern methods such as deconstructivism. It may be conceded that a fully satisfying theoretical integration of synchronic and diachronic approaches has not yet achieved, at least to my knowledge. A helpful reflection is offered by Klauck who operates with a theory of "context" ("Kontexttheorie"): Meaning is in part dependent on the context in which an expression appears. "Context" starts with the closer linguistic context, i.e. the combination of words, period and texts, and opens in concentric circles to farther remote contexts such as non-verbal, situational, and socio-cultural. "Context" in that sense com-prises also diachronic semantics, i.e. the historical context. It is clear that such a method is not con-tent with asking for the (pre-) history of the text, but gives rather primacy to the text as it appears in its synchronic shape. But at the same time such a method asks for history, and, all caution notwith-standing, this seems especially appropriate when dealing with halakhic texts from Qumran.
Second, the range of synchronic methods. Looking for an integrated approach of diachronic and synchronic analysis, I think some of the synchronic methods could and should be employed more widely in halakhic comparison. Thus, what has been termed as "philological" analysis looks some-times too much like a lexicographical sort of work. However, since James Barr's 1961 book The Semantics of Biblical Language the notion is widespread in Biblical scholarship that "syntactical relations … and groupings of words … [are] just as important for the bearing of significance as the more purely lexicographical aspects of the single word." So why not do more of that sort in ha-lakhic Qumran studies, too? Beyond semantics, a more refined quest for pragmatics of the halakhic texts would also be in order. Thus, I would call for more linguistic refinement in synchronic analy-sis. While the cluster of a word or "Wortfeld" is an important factor in determining meaning, it is also necessary in halakhic study to ask how a specific term functions within the sequence of a regu-lation, of a text or a halakhic system in general. Thus, also systemic analysis of the kind Elman has proposed is called for. I wonder if other synchronic concepts such as reader construction or intertex-tuality could not help reformulate and deepen our study of the scrolls in the aspects under review here-but this is already another question.