One Voice or Many? The Identity of the Narrators in Noah’s Birth Story (1QapGen 1–5.27) and in the ‘Book of the Words of Noah’ (1QapGen 5.29–18.23)

in Aramaic Studies
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The present article explores the puzzling variety of narrative voices in the so-called Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1. Lamech, Noah, and Abram in turn act as first person narrator, and all three of these stories also include third person narration. Focusing on the columns preceding the Abram story, it is shown that both the account of Noah’s birth (1–5.27) and the ‘Book of the Words of Noah’ (5.29–18.23) are basically narrated in the first person by Lamech and Noah, respectively. It is concluded that the rare shifts to third person narration are not unusual in ancient Jewish literature.

One Voice or Many? The Identity of the Narrators in Noah’s Birth Story (1QapGen 1–5.27) and in the ‘Book of the Words of Noah’ (1QapGen 5.29–18.23)

in Aramaic Studies




Avigad and YadinA Genesis Apocryphon p. 38.


Steiner‘Heading’ p. 70 (italics in the original).


Steiner‘Heading’ p. 69.


Bernstein‘Pseudepigraphy’ p. 16.


See e.g. Daniel K. FalkThe Parabiblical Texts: Strategies for Extending the Scriptures in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Library of Second Temple Studies, 63; Companion to the Qumran Scrolls, 8; London: T&T Clark2007) p. 30.


Sidnie White CrawfordRewriting Scripture in Second Temple Times (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2008) p. 126.


MachielaDead Sea Genesis Apocryphon p. 31 translates: ‘we might undertake’.


FalkParabiblical Texts p. 30.


Bernstein‘Pseudepigraphy’ p. 16.


White CrawfordRewriting Scripture pp. 108 110. Again White Crawford does not distinguish between narrator and speaker. She first argues that ‘first person narrative’ occurs in the voice of Enoch (p. 108) and then states that Enoch is the ‘speaker’ in columns 3–5 (p. 110).


FalkParabiblical Texts p. 30. Thus also George W.E. Nickelsburg Jewish Literature Between the Bible and Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (Minneapolis: Fortress 2nd edn 2005) p. 174: ‘from start to finish the narrator is Lamech who speaks in the first-person singular and quotes others doing the same thing’.


As suggested by Bernstein‘From the Watchers’ p. 47; White Crawford Rewriting Scripture p. 110; Bernstein ‘From the Watchers’ p. 49 wonders whether in 1QapGen 4.11–12 God is speaking or Enoch is addressing God. However if the new reading by Machiela Dead Sea Genesis Apocryphon p. 40 is correct both options are unlikely because God is referred to in the third person: ‮‭(11)‬ חזֹית למעֹבד דין ו֯מ֯[שפט] עֹל֯ […]◦◦ן֯ ◦◦◦ןֹ שֹם ‭(12)‬ ד֯י֯ ק֯[ד]י֯ש֯אֹ רבא וקץ [ … ]◦ ל֯ה֯ו֯ן֯ מֹןֹ אנפי ארעא‬ ‘(11) I decided to enact judgment and ju[stice] upon […] … the name (12) of the Great H[o]ly One and an end […]… them from the face of the earth’.


MachielaDead Sea Genesis Apocryphon p. 42 reconstructs ‮מ֯[לי‬ ‘[my] w[ords’. This reconstruction implies Enoch as first-person narrator. However since Enoch is not attested as first-person narrator elsewhere in Noah’s birth story the reconstruction is rather implausible.


Bernstein‘From the Watchers’ p. 51.


Bernstein‘Noah and the Flood at Qumran’ p. 228 n. 75. Machiela Dead Sea Genesis Apocryphon p. 49 translates: ‘its mate after it’.


NickelsburgJewish Literature p. 174. Other possible third-person references to Noah in this section can be found in 16.21 (‮כ]ו֯לֹ ב֯נ֯י֯ [נוח‬ ‘[a]ll the sons of [Noah’) and 16.22 (‮]ל[נ]ו֯ח‬ ‘]to [N]oah’).


Bernstein‘Pseudepigraphy in the Qumran Scrolls’ p. 16 n. 28 = ‘Noah and the Flood at Qumran’ p. 228 n. 75. That this section adopts a third-person narrative voice was already noted by Hubert Lignée ‘L’Apocryphe de la Genèse’ in J. Carmignac É. Cothenet and H. Lignée Les Textes de Qumran: Traduits et annotés 2 (Autour de la Bible; Paris: Letouzey et Ané 1963) pp. 205–242 esp. 212 and 226. Though Lignée’s early claim is now confirmed by the above readings his alleged evidence in 17.16 proves untenable because there the subject is Japheth not Noah.


Morgenstern Qimron and Sivan‘Unpublished Columns’ pp. 50–51 followed by e.g. Beyer Die aramäischen Texte vom Toten Meer 2 p. 100 as well as M. Abegg and Michael Wise in The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader 3 p. 22.


See Matthias HenzeThe Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar: The Ancient Near Eastern Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4 (JSJSup, 61; Leiden: Brill1999) pp. 9–49 esp. 32–33. Henze argues that the two versions of Daniel 4 ‘are double literary editions … of a common story and developed independently of each other’ (Henze The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar p. 203).


HenzeThe Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar p. 32.

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