Robert Eisenman is Professor of Middle East Religions and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. He has published several books on the Scrolls, including Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran: A New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins and James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher, and he is a major contributor to a Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Michael Wise is an Assistant Professor of Aramaic - the language of Jesus - in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago. He is the author of A Critical Study of the Temple Scroll from Qumran Cave Eleven and has written numerous articles on the Dead Sea Scrolls which have appeared in journals such as the Revue de Qumran, Journal of Biblical Literature, and Vetus Testamentum.
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Abbreviations, Symbols and Ciphers
Beyer, Texte - K. Beyer, Die aramäischen Texte vom Toten Meer (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984)
DJD - Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (of Jordan )
DSSIP - S. A. Reed, Dead Sea Scroll Inventory Project: Lists of Documents, Photographs and Museum Plates (Claremont: Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, 1991 -) ER - R. H. Eisenman and J. M. Robinson, A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2 Volumes (Washington, D.C: 1991)
Milik, Books - J. T. Milik, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976)
Milik, MS - J. T. Milik, ‘Milki-sedeq et Milki-resha dans les anciens écrits juifs et chrétiens,’ Journal of Jewish Studies 23 (1972) 95-144.
Milik, Years - J. T. Milik, Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea (London: SCM, 1959) PAM - Palestine Archaeological Museum (designation used for accession numbers of photographs of Scrolls)
4Q - Qumran Cave Four. Texts are then numbered, e.g., 4Q390 = manuscript number 390 found in
[ ] - Missing letters or words
vacat - Uninscribed leather
Ancient scribal erasure or modern editor’s deletion
< > - Supralinear text or modern editor’s addition
III - Ancient ciphers used in some texts for digits 1 -9
-/ - Ancient cipher used in some texts for the number ‘10’
3 - Ancient cipher used in some texts for the number ‘20’
... - Traces of ink visible, but letters cannot be read
-// - Ancient cipher used in some texts for the number ‘100’
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Why should anyone be interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Why are they important? We trust that the present volume, which presents fifty texts from the previously unpublished corpus, will help answer these questions.
The story of the discovery of the Scrolls in caves along the shores of the Dead Sea in the late forties and early fifties is well known. The first cave was discovered, as the story goes, by Bedouin boys in 1947.
Most familiar works in Qumran research come from this cave - Qumran, the Arabic term for the locale in which the Scrolls were found, being used by scholars as shorthand to refer to the Scrolls. Discoveries from other caves are less well known, but equally important. For instance, Cave 3 was discovered in 1952. It contained a Copper Scroll, a list apparently of hiding places of Temple treasure. The problem has always been to fit this Copper Scroll into its proper historical setting. The present work should help in resolving this and other similar questions.
The most important cave for our purposes was Cave 4 discovered in 1954. Since it was discovered after the partition of Palestine, its contents went into the Jordanian-controlled Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem; while the contents of Cave 1 had previously gone into an Israeli-controlled museum in West Jerusalem, the Israel Museum.
Scholars refer to these manuscript-bearing caves according to the chronological order in which they were discovered: e.g. 1Q = Cave 1, 2Q = Cave 2, 3 Q = Cave 3, and so on. The seemingly esoteric code designating manuscripts and fragments, therefore, works as follows: 1QS = the Community Rule from Cave 1; 4QD = the Damascus Document from Cave 4, as opposed, for instance, to CD, the recensions of the same document discovered at the end of the last century in the repository known as the Cairo Genizah.
The discovery of this obviously ancient document with Judaeo-Christian overtones among medieval materials puzzled observers at the time. Later, fragments of it were found among materials from Cave 4, but researchers continued using the Cairo Genizah versions because the Qumran fragments were never published. We now present pictures of the last column of this document (plates 19 and 20) in this work, and it figured prominently in events leading up to the final publication of the unpublished plates.
The struggle for access to the materials in Cave 4 was long and arduous, sometimes even bitter. An International Team of editors had been set up by the Jordanian Government to control the process. The problems with this team are public knowledge. To put them in a nutshell: in the first place the team was hardly international, secondly it did not work well as a team, and thirdly it dragged out the editing process interminably.
In 198 5 -8 6, Professor Robert Eisenman, co-editor of this volume, was in Jerusalem as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the William F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research - the ‘American School’ where the Scrolls from Cave 1 were originally brought for inspection in 1947. The subject of his research was the relationship of the Community at Qumran to the Jerusalem Church.
This last is also referred to as the Jerusalem Community of James the just, called in sources ‘the brother of Jesus’ - whatever may be meant by this designation. Prior recipients of this award were mostly field archaeologists, but a few were translators, including some from the International Team. Professor Eisenman was the first historian as such to be so appointed. Frustratingly, he found there was little he could do in Jerusalem.
Where access to the Scrolls themselves was concerned, he was given the run-around, by now familiar to those who follow the Scrolls’ saga, and shunted back and forth between the Israel Department of Antiquities, now housed at the Rockefeller Museum, and the Ecole Biblique or ‘French School’ down the street from the American School.
Had he known at that time of the archive at the Huntington Library in California, not far from his university - the existence of which had never been widely publicized, and was not even known to many at the library itself - he could with even more advantage have stayed at home. It was from the ranks of the French School - the Ecole as it is called, an extension of the Dominican Order in Jerusalem - that all previous editors were drawn, including the two most recent, Father Benoit, head of the Ecole before he died, and John Strugnell.
The International Team had been put in place by Roland de Vaux, another Dominican father. In several seasons from 1954- 56 De Vaux did the archaeology of Qumran. A sociologist by training, not an archaeologist, de Vaux had also been head of the Ecole.
After the conquest of East Jerusalem in the Six Day War in 1967, some might call the Israelis the greatest war profiteers; the remaining Scrolls were surely their greatest spoil, had they had the sense to realize it. They did not. Because of the delicacy of the international situation and their own inertia, they did little to speed up the editing process of the Scrolls which had, because of problems centering around the Copper Scroll mentioned above, more or less ground to a halt. The opposite occurred, and the previous editorial situation, which seemed at that point on the verge of collapse, received a twenty-year new lease of life.
In the spring of 1986 at the end of his stay in Jerusalem, Professor Eisenman went with the British scholar, Philip Davies of the University of Sheffield, to see one of the Israeli officials responsible for this - an intermediary on behalf of the Antiquities Department (now ‘Authority’) and the International Team and the Scrolls Curator at the Israel Museum. They were told in no uncertain terms, ‘You will not see the Scrolls in your lifetimes.’
These words more than any others stung them into action and the campaign to free up access to the Scrolls was galvanized. Almost five years to the day from the time they were uttered, absolute access to the Scrolls was attained. This is a story in itself, but it must suffice for our purposes to say that the campaign gathered momentum in June 1989, when it became the focus of a parallel campaign being conducted by the Biblical Archaeology Review in Washington DC and its editor, Hershel Shanks, and caught the attention of the international press. Unbeknown, however, to either Shanks or the press, behind the scenes events were transpiring that would make even these discussions moot.
Eisenman had been identified in this flurry of worldwide media attention as the scholarly point man in this struggle. As a result, photographs of the remaining unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to him. These began coming to him in September of 1989. At first they came in small consignments, then more insistently, until by the autumn of 1990, a year later, photographs of virtually the whole of the unpublished corpus and then some, had been made over to him.
Those responsible for this obviously felt that he would know what to do with them. The present editors hope that this confidence has been justified. The publication of the two-volume Facsimile Edition two years later, together with the present volume, is the result.
At this juncture Professor Michael Wise of the University of Chicago, a specialist in Aramaic, was brought into the picture. Eisenman began sharing the archive with him in November 1990. Professor Wise describes the impression the sight of the extensive photographic archive made on him when he came to California and mounted the stairs for the first time to the sunny loft Eisenman used as a study:
‘The photographs were piled in little stacks everywhere around the room. They were so numerous that stacked together, they would have topped six feet in height. Someone should have taken a picture and recorded the scene, the two of us standing on either side of a giant stack of 1800 photographs of previously sequestered and unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls - the big one that did not get away.’
Two teams immediately set to work, one under Professor Eisenman at California State University at Long Beach and one under Professor Wise at the University of Chicago. Their aim was to go through everything every photograph individually - to see what was there, however long it took, leaving nothing to chance and depending on no one else’s work.
At the same time, and in pursuance of the goal of absolutely free access without qualifications, Eisenman was preparing the Facsimile Edition of all unpublished plates. This was scheduled to appear the following spring through E. J. Brill in Leiden, Holland. Ten days, however, before its scheduled publication in April 1991, after pressure was applied by the International Team, the publisher inexplicably withdrew and Hershel Shanks and the Biblical Archaeology Society to their credit stepped in to fill the breach. But time had been lost and other events were now transpiring that would render the whole question of access obsolete.
Independently and separately, the Huntington Library of San Marino, California, in pursuance of a parallel commitment to academic freedom and without knowledge of the above arrangements-though aware of the public relations benefits implicit in the situation - called Eisenman in as a consultant in June 1991. Thereafter, in September 1991, the Library unilaterally decided to open its archives. The monopoly had collapsed. B.A.S.’s 2-volume Facsimile Edition was published two months later. What was the problem in Qumran studies that these efforts were aimed at rectifying?
Because of the existence of an International Team, giving the appearance of ‘official’ appointment, the public naturally came to see the editions it produced (mainly published by Oxford University Press in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series) as authoritative. These editions contained interpretations, which themselves came to be looked on as ‘official’ as well. This is important. Those who did not have a chance to see these texts for themselves were easily dominated by those claiming either to know or to have seen more.
This proposition has been put somewhat differently: control of the unpublished manuscripts meant control of the field. How did this work? By controlling the unpublished manuscripts - the pace of their publication, who was given a document to edit and who was not - the International Team could, for one thing, create instant scholarly ‘superstars’. For another, it controlled the interpretation of the texts.
For example, instead of a John Allegro, a John Strugnell was given access; instead of a Robert Eisenman, a Frank Moore Cross; instead of a Michael Wise, an Emile Puech.
Without competing analyses, these interpretations grew almost inevitably into a kind of ‘official’ scholarship. A conception of the field emerged known as ‘the Essene theory’ dominated by those ‘official’ scholars or their colleagues who propounded it.
As will be seen from this work, this theory is inaccurate and insufficient to describe the totality of the materials represented by the corpus at Qumran. Another unfortunate effect of this state of affairs was that it gave the individuals involved, whether accidentally or by design, control over graduate studies in the field. That is to say, if you wanted to study a given manuscript, you had to go to that institution and faculty member controlling that manuscript. It could not be otherwise.
Out of this also grew, again inevitably, control of all new chairs or positions in the field - few enough in any case - all reviews (dominated in any event by Harvard, Oxford, and the Ecole Biblique), publication committees, magazine editorial boards, and book series. Anyone opposing the establishment was dubbed ‘second-rate’; all supporting it, ‘first-rate.’ Whatever the alleged justification, no field of study should have to undergo indignities of this kind, all the more so, when what are at issue are ambiguous and sensitive documents critical for a consideration of the history of mankind and civilization in the West.
We had, in fact, in an academic world dedicated to ‘science’ and free debate, where ‘opposition’ theories were supposed to be treated honourably and not abhorred, the growth of what in religion would go by the name of a ‘curia’ - in this case ‘an academic curia’, promoting its own theories, while condemning those of its opponents. These were the kinds of problems in Qumran studies that Eisenman decided to resolve, unilaterally as it were, by cutting the Gordion Knot once and for all by publishing the 1800 or so previously unpublished plates he had in his possession.
The present work is a concomitant to this decision, and the fifty documents it contains represent in our judgement the best of what exists. Reconstructed between January 1991 and May 1992, these give an excellent overview of what there is in the previously sequestered corpus and what their significance is.
The fifty texts in this volume were reconstructed out of some 150 different plates, most of the numbers for which are given in the reader’s notes at the end of each Chapter. Twenty-five of the most interesting of these plates are presented in this volume not only for the reader’s interest, but also so that he or she can check the accuracy of the transliterations and Translations. The rest can be located in A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, published by the Biblical Archaeology Society of Washington DC in 1991, to which the corresponding plate numbers are provided.
Thirty-three of these texts are in
Hebrew (including one in a cryptic script that required decoding) and seventeen
in Aramaic. Aramaic was apparently considered the more appropriate vehicle for
the expression of testaments, incantations, and the like. More sacred writings
were more typically inscribed in Hebrew, the holy language of the Books of
Moses. Writers of apocalyptic visions also often preferred Aramaic, probably
because of a tradition that Aramaic was the language of the Angels. This
division, while by no means hard and fast, can be seen as characterizing the
present collection as well.
Texts and fragments are translated as precisely as possible, as they are; nothing substantive is held back or deleted. A precise transcription into the modern Hebrew characters conventionally used to render classical Hebrew and/or Aramaic writing, is also provided, so the reader can compare these with the original photographs or check Translations, if he or she so chooses. Every Translation might not be perfect, and the arrangement of fragments in some cases still conjectural, but they are precise and sufficient enough to enable the reader to draw his or her own conclusions, which is indeed the point of this book.
Also towards this end commentaries on each text are provided, some lengthy, some less so, which should help the reader pass through the shoals of what are often quite esoteric allusions and interrelationships. These commentaries also attempt to put matters such as these into a proper historical perspective, though in these matters, it should be appreciated that Professor Eisenman and Professor Wise have ideas concerning these things that, while complementary, are not always the same.
Both agree as to the ‘Zealot’ and/or ‘Messianic’ character of the texts, but one would go further than the other in the direction of ‘Zadokite’, ‘Sadducee’, and/or ‘Jewish Christian’ theory. Every effort is also made to link these new documents with the major texts known from the early days of Qumran research which were published in the fifties and sixties, including the Damascus Document, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher, the War Scroll, and Hymns, which can be found in compendiums in English available from both Penguin Books and Doubleday.
Through these commentaries the reader will be able to see these earlier works in a new light as well. Without commentaries of this kind, linking one vocabulary complex with another, one set of allusions with another - sometimes esoteric, but always imaginative - and new documents like those we provide in this work, the interpretation of these early texts must remain at best incomplete.
Nor is the number of documents presented here insubstantial. It compares not unfavourably with the numbers of those already published and demonstrates the importance of open archives and free competition even in the academic world. It also makes the claim that more time was required to study these texts than the thirty-five years already expended, and pleas to the public for more patience, somewhat difficult to understand.
Nor are these documents, as the reader will be able to judge, dull or unimportant. They absolutely gainsay any notion that there is nothing interesting in the unpublished corpus, just as their style and literary creativity gainsay any idea that these are somehow inferior compositions. On the contrary, some, particularly ecstatic and visionary recitals, are of the most exquisite beauty. All are of unique historical interest.
Of the Cave 4 materials in the DJD series and the 1800 photographs or so in the Facsimile Edition, about 580 separate manuscripts can be identified. Of these, some 380 are non-Biblical, or ‘sectarian’ as they are referred to in the field; the rest Biblical. Non-Biblical or sectarian texts are those not found in the Bible. Except for those apocryphal and pseudepigraphic works that have come down to us through various traditions, most of these are new, never seen before.
During the somewhat acrimonious exchanges that developed in the press in the 1989 controversy over access, some claimed that they were willing to share the documents assigned to them. This was sometimes disingenuous. It may have been true concerning Biblical manuscripts to some extent, which were not particularly new or of groundbreaking significance. It most certainly was not true where non-Biblical or sectarian documents were concerned.
These last always remained firmly under the control of scholars connected in one way or another with the École mentioned above, like de Vaux’s associate Father Milik, Father Benoit, Father Starky, John Strugnell, and Father Emile Puech. But these non-Biblical writings are of the greatest significance for historians, because they contain the most precious information on the thoughts and currents of Judaism and the ethos that gave rise to Christianity in the first century BC to the first century AD.
They are actual eye-witness accounts of the period. While those responsible for the almost quiescent pace of scholarship may have felt themselves justified from a philological perspective in proceeding in this way, the interests of the historian were in many cases completely ignored.
Most philologists, who are primarily interested in reconstructing a single text or a given passage from that text, just could not appreciate why historians, after waiting some thirty-five years for all materials to become available, did not wish to wait any longer, regardless of the perfection or imperfection of their Translation efforts. The historian needs the materials relating to the given movement or historical current before drawing any conclusion or making a judgment about that movement.
Sometimes even philological efforts, by ignoring the relationships of one manuscript with another, one allusion to another, end in inaccuracy. This is often the case in Qumran studies. Without all the relevant materials available, nothing of precision can ultimately really be said, either by the philologist or the historian, so access to all materials benefits both. In our opinion the results of our labours in this work confirm this proposition.
The same is the case for works in this collection which make actual historical references to real persons. The members of the International Team knew about these references, and occasionally mentioned them over the years in their work, but saw no need to publish them, because they seemed either irrelevant to them - matters of passing curiosity only - or they could make nothing of them. This is illustrative - as anyone who looks at what we have made of these will see. To the outsider’s eyes or those of an editor with a different point of view, these materials are of the most far-reaching, historical import. As a matter of fact they go far towards a solution to the Qumran problem.
This should be clear even to the most dull-minded of observers. The same can be said for the disciplinary text at the end of this work, which actually mentions names of people associated with the Community. All references of this kind, together with the actual circumstances of their occurrence, manifoldly increase our understanding of the Qumran Community. This is also true of the two Letters on Works Righteousness in Chapter 6.
Parts of these letters have been circulating under one name or another for some time, but no complete text was ever made available. In fact, efforts to publish them have been incredibly drawn out - insiders knew of their existence over thirty years ago. To see from their public comments what these insiders made of these letters, proves yet again the argument for open access. The implications of these letters, for solving the basic problems of Qumran and also of early Christianity are quite momentous as we shall see below.
For our part, in line with our previously announced intentions in this work, we have gone through the entire corpus of pictures completely ourselves and depended on no one else’s work to do this. We made all the selections and arrangements of plates ourselves, including the identification of overlaps and joins. The process only took about six weeks. Contrariwise, the information contained in these two letters should have been available thirty years ago and much misunderstanding in Qumran studies would have been avoided.
The same is true for the last column of the Damascus Document with which we close Chapter 6. This was the subject of the separate requests for access Eisenman and Davies addressed to John Strugnell, then Head of the International Team, and the Israel Antiquities Department - in the spring of 1989 - only to be peremptorily dismissed. It was after these ‘official’ requests for access to this document that this access issue boiled over into the international press.
What difference could having access to a single unknown column of the Damascus Document make?
The reader need only look at our interpretation of this column below to decide. It makes all the difference. Before translating every line and having all the materials at our disposal, we could never have imagined what a difference it actually could make. As it turns out, analyzed in terms of the rest of the corpus and compared with certain key passages in the New Testament, we have the basis for understanding Paul’s incipient theological approach to the death of Christ, which in turn stands as the basis of the Christian theological understanding of it thereafter.
From the few crumbs the International Team was willing to throw to scholars from time to time, we knew that there was a reference of some kind in this text to an important convocation of the Community at Pentecost - much as we heard rumours about bits from other unpublished texts - but never having been shown it, we did not know that the text was an excommunication text or that the Damascus Document ended in such an orgy of nationalistic ‘cursing’. This makes a substantial difference.
Certain theological constructions which Paul makes with regard to ‘cursing’ and the meaning of the crucifixion of Christ are now brought into focus. With them, notions of the redemptive nature of the death of Christ as set forth in Isa. 5 3 that a majority of mankind still considers fundamental - are clarified (the reader should see our further discussion of these matters at the end of Chapter 6).
This is the difference having all of the documents at one’s disposal can make. So what in effect do we have in these manuscripts? Probably nothing less than a picture of the movement from which Christianity sprang in Palestine. But there is more - if we take into consideration the Messianic nature of the texts as we delineate it in this book, and allied concepts such as ‘Righteousness’, ‘Piety’, ‘justification’, ‘works’, ‘the Poor’, ‘Mysteries’, what we have is a picture of what Christianity actually was in Palestine.
The reader, however, probably will not be able to recognize it because it will seem virtually the opposite of the Christianity with which he or she is familiar. This is particularly the case in documents such as the two Letters on Works Righteousness above, and others in Chapter 6 which detail the legal minutiae reckoned as Righteousness or ‘works that will justify you’.
The reason again for this is simple. We cannot really speak of a ‘Christianity’ per se in Palestine in the first century. The word was only coined, as Acts 11:2 6 makes clear, to describe a situation in Antioch in Syria in the fifties of the present era. Later it was used to describe a large portion of the overseas world that became ‘Christian’, but this Christianity was completely different from the movement we have before us - well not completely.
Both movements used the same vocabulary, the same scriptural passages as proof texts, similar conceptual contexts; but the one can be characterized as the mirror reversal of the other. While the Palestinian one was zealot, nationalistic, engagé, xenophobic, and apocalyptic; the overseas one was cosmopolitan, antinomian, pacifistic - in a word ‘Paulinized’.
Equally we can refer to the first as Jamesian, at least if we judge by the letter ascribed to James’ name in the New Testament, which both Eusebius and Martin Luther felt should not be included in the New Testament. Of course in their eyes it should not have been, as its general thrust parallels that of many documents from Qumran and it is full of Qumranisms.
It is for these reasons that we felt it more appropriate to refer to the movement we have before us as the ‘Messianic’ one, and its literature as the literature of ‘the Messianic Movement’ in Palestine. In so far as this literature resembles Essenism , it can be called Essene; Zealotism, Zealot; Sadduceeism, Sadducee; Jewish Christianity - whatever might be meant by this -Jewish Christian. The nomenclature is unimportant and not particularly relevant.
But what should be clear is that what we have here, regardless of the date one gives it, is an archive of impressive dimensions. If not first century, it certainly leads directly into the principal movements of the first century, all of which adopt its vocabulary and ethos as their own. For instance, as we have noted, it is impossible to distinguish ideas and terminology associated with the Jerusalem Community of James the just from materials found in this corpus.
But the archive as it is has very clear connections with the ‘Zealot Movement’ as we shall point out below, a theory Professor Wise has been championing for some time. In fact, this was a theory of Qumran origins proposed very early in the history of Qumran research. Those supporting the establishment ‘Essene theory’ thought they had vanquished it twenty-five years ago by ridiculing its proponents, Cecil Roth and G. R. Driver of Oxford.
There were shortcomings in the theory as they propounded it then, because it did not take into account the entire expanse of the literature represented by the corpus at Qumran. However, if our presentation in this volume of this movement as the Messianic one, having both ‘Zealot’ and ‘Jewish Christian’ propensities, is taken into account, then a good many of these shortcomings can be made good.
In fact, what one seems to have reflected in this Qumran literature is a Messianic élite retreating or ‘separating’ into the wilderness as in Isa. 40:3’s ‘make a straight Way in the Wilderness for our God.’
This elite seems to have inhabited ‘desert camps’, where they were actually ‘preparing’ to be joined by the Angels, referred to by them as ‘the Heavenly Host’, and for what appears to be a final apocalyptic Holy War against all evil on this earth. This would appear to be the reason they are practicing the regimen of extreme purity in the wilderness in these texts - not the somewhat more retrospective presentation in the New Testament as it has come down to us.
This movement consists of a small cadre of committed ‘volunteers’ or ‘Joiners for war’, of ‘Holy Ones’ or ‘Saints’ - Messianic ‘shock-troops’ if one prefers - preparing in the wilderness through ‘Perfection of the Way’ and ‘zeal for the Law for the time of the Day of Vengeance’. The militancy of this spirit will be unfamiliar to many readers although those with a knowledge of militant Puritanism of seventeenth-century England - particularly under Cromwell - and thereafter in America will recognize it. It is a militancy that is still very much part of the Islamic spirituality as well.
It is this kind of spirit which shines through the texts as we have them, a proposition which both editors have been attempting to put forward in their separate analyses of Qumran materials. It is also probably at the core of the movement behind Judas Maccabee’s similar military endeavours, coming down through the descendants of his nephew John Hyrcanus - his successors - to so-called ‘Zealots’ of the war against Rome in the first century, and beyond.
These, if you like, were the Holy Warriors of their time. They are the cadre of those willing to live the regimen of extreme purity in preparation for ‘the last times’. They are perhaps no more a sect than the Crusaders in the Middle Ages, or similar groups in other times and cultures throughout history. It is difficult for those accustomed to a more Gentile Christian overseas approach to conceive that this was the nature of Christianity at its formative moment in Palestine.
Where dating and chronology generally are concerned, we have not relied on the methods of paleography at all. These methods have in the past too often been employed illegitimately in Qumran research to confuse the non-specialist. The paleographic sequences that were developed, while helpful, are too uncertain to have any real relevance to such a narrow chronological period. In addition, they depend on the faulty assumption of a ‘rapid’ and straight-line development of scripts at this time, a proposition that is by no means capable of proof.
‘Book’ or scribal hands are notoriously stubborn, often lasting centuries beyond the point of their initial creation; and informal or ‘semi-cursive hands are just not datable in any precise way on the basis of the kind of evidence we have before us. In other words the fact of accurately being able to date the origin of a given scribal hand - a dubious proposition in any time or place - tells us nothing about when a given individual within, for instance, a community such as that represented by the literature at Qumran actually used that hand. It is the same for the equally popular subject in Qumran research, coin data.
Dropping a coin with a given date on it only tells us that the coin was not dropped before it was minted, not how long afterwards. All the more so in paleography. Even if it were possible to date a given handwriting style with any precision, we can only know that the handwriting was not used before the date of its theoretical development, not how long after. The whole construction is a tautological absurdity.
Similar problems obtain for AMS Carbon 14 dating techniques. Eisenman and Davies first proposed the application of this technique in the 19 89 letter to the Israel Department of Antiquities referred to above. But the process is still in its infancy, subject to multiple variables, and too uncertain to be applied with precision to the kind of materials we have before us.
Even the tests that were conducted were neither extensive nor secure enough to be of any real use in making definitive determinations. As always in this field, one is finally thrown back on the areas of literary criticism, textual analysis, and a sure historical grasp - debatable enough quantities in any field - to make determinations of this kind. Among the documents in the present collection are several of the most sublime and incredible beauty.
The Hymns and Mysteries in Chapter 7 are examples, as are the visionary recitals in Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5. In fact, the visionary nature of the Qumran corpus is much under-estimated. Texts of this kind border on what goes in Judaism under the name of Kabbalah, and indeed it is difficult to see how there cannot have been some very direct relationship albeit an underground one. In addition, the allusions and ideas contained in the documents of this collection hang together to an astonishing degree. Correspondences are precise; vocabulary clusters, regular.
The ideas and images move so consistently from document to document as to awe the investigator. Everything is so homogeneous and consistent that there can belittle doubt that what we have before us is a movement and the archive, its literature. Since the situation in this field is so fluid, it is always possible that a text included in this work may have been published elsewhere or be in the process of being published, and parts of texts or a whole text included in this work, in fact, were already published or were published after we began working on them.
Since we were already working on the text (or texts) in any event and since no complete English Translation was readily available, and it was important to have a fuller literary context by which to judge that text, we have included them. We have also provided a section at the end of each Chapter containing publication and technical information. Generally we limited this bibliography to those books and articles where such a text was published or in which a detailed description, if not every single word, of the text was provided.
We have, also, attempted to keep our Translations as faithful to the original as possible. This may result in what seems to be an uneven style. For instance, we have not turned sentences around or reversed them in favour of more fluent English. In pursuance of this, too, we have capitalized concepts we considered particularly important and relevant to the Qumran ethos, so the reader would also be able to take note that a particular word was recurring across the breadth of the Qumran corpus. Examples of words of this kind are ‘Righteousness’, ‘Piety’, ‘Truth’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Foundations’, ‘the Poor’, ‘the Meek, ‘Mysteries’, ‘Splendour’, and ‘Fountain’.
Often these are terms of very considerable historical import.
Unlike many translators - who appear to go out of their way to be inconsistent or confusing, and seem to have no idea what was an important concept at Qumran and what was not - we have attempted to use familiar expressions to translate key words, for example ‘Holy Spirit’ instead of ‘spirit of holiness’, ‘the Way’ instead of ‘the path’, ‘works’ instead of ‘deeds’, and ‘Messiah’ instead of ‘anointed one’.
When we came upon a word such as ‘justification’, being used in a manner known to early Christian theology, we called it ‘justification’, not something else. Nothing less would do. Where we saw ‘works Righteousness’, as for instance in the two letters we entitled by that name, we called it that, however unfamiliar the ‘works’ therein enumerated might appear.
We have also tried to render familiar words consistently. For instance, some texts refer to ‘the Torah’. Sometimes these same texts or others refer to ‘Hok’ / ‘Hukkim’, that is ordinance(s) or Law(s). Since occasionally an important terminology for the development of the Zealot Movement like ‘Zeal’ is associated with these last, we often render them, too, as ‘Law’ or ‘Laws’, that is the individual legal requirements of Torah and/or Covenant.
To add to this confusion, there is a further ambiguous legal usage ‘Mishpat’. Depending on the context, this can be rendered ‘Judgement’ or ‘ordinance’ once again. Since, when used eschatologically, it most often refers to what is, in English usage, ‘The Last judgement’, we have preferred to render it as Judgement’ throughout, so that the reader would be able to recognize the underlying Hebrew word in the Translation, even though this occasionally leads to imprecision when applied to everyday, mundane affairs. For instance, the individual we shall discuss in Chapter 6 below, called ‘the Mebakker or ‘Bishop’, when judging individual cases and making individual rulings is, also, referred to as making ‘Judgements’.
A key ideology is Hesed. In most cases it means ‘Piety’, but sometimes, especially when applied to God, it can actually mean that ‘Grace’ which Paul embraces so heartily in his letters. For the sake of consistency, we have translated it ‘Piety’ throughout. There are also innumerable instances of the use of the key terminologies: Ebion, ‘Ani, and Dal, all referring to ‘the Poor’ or ‘poverty’.
For the purposes of consistency and precision, we have preferred ‘Poor’ for the first, ‘Meek’ for the second, and ‘Downtrodden’ for the third. Such are the editorial decisions that must be made in a work of this kind. Finally there is the reconstruction of various fragments into a single rationalized whole. Often the order of these is arbitrary, representing what seemed in the circumstances the most rational. It is sometimes not sure whether all of these really even belong to the same text.
For instance, in a splendid mystic and visionary recital, the Chariots of Glory below, there is an excommunication text comparable to the last column of the Damascus Document, imbedded in somewhat more prosaic material. What are we to do with such a fragment? Yet, the columns in question were preserved continuously, such is the nature of the material before us.
Often we decided simply to leave such passages as part of the same manuscript, even though it is possible they were not. This is true, in some instances too - but certainly not all - as concerns the order of fragments in a given document. But we did not feel this was sufficient cause to hold up work as some ‘official’ editors seem to have felt for so long, and decided that matters such as these were relatively minor (of greater interest to the specialist than the general reader), as compared with the right of the public to know. It was more important to translate a given manuscript, provide commentary, get it out, and leave the public to judge such fine points for itself as we ourselves would go on to do in other forums.
In closing, the editors wish to thank the members of both teams which worked on these texts, one at California State University and Long Beach and one at the University of Chicago. The first included Rabbi Leo Abrami, Eton Viner, Ilan Cohen, Eyran Eylon, and Dr James Battenfield. The second included David Clemens, Deborah Friedrich, Michael Douglas, and Anthony Tomasino.
Where the second team is concerned, Professor Wise wishes especially to thank Mr Douglas and Mr Tomasino. They shared his labours on many manuscripts. Mr Tomasino in particular contributed to all aspects of his work on many manuscripts along every step of the way. They also acknowledge the help and suggestions offered by Professor Norman Golb, Professor Dennis Pardee, Dr Douglas Penny, and Dr Yiftah Zur. These colleagues and students have helped make this a better book.
Translations of this kind are difficult. Work - albeit preliminary was accomplished here under very difficult circumstances and in very short order that has been ‘on the back burner’, as it were, for the better part of thirty-five years. Those who helped deserve only credit and none of the blame for any errors in reading or interpretation in this work.
Final responsibility for all readings, Translations and commentary, however, must and does, of course, lie with the authors. Professor Wise also wishes to express his gratitude to his brother Jamie and wife Cathy, for whom in the words of the poet in the deepest sense, matre pulchra filia pulchrior; Professor Eisenman, to his wife Heather and children, Lavi, Hanan, Nadav, and Sarah. The work in this field is now at a beginning. We hope our efforts in this volume will be of help in further illuminating ‘the Way’.
Fountain Valley, California Des Plaines, Illinois
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