The Riverrun of Rewriting Scripture: From Textual Cannibalism to Scriptural Completion

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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To retain the concept of rewritten Bible as a scholarly category it is not only crucial to slightly change the name of the notion by re-designating it “rewritten Scripture” but also to accord the term the status of a cross-cultural third-order concept. This will allow research to detach the notion from its somewhat current “parochial” nature intrinsically linked as it is to the study of Second Temple Jewish literature. Rewritten Scripture should be conceived of as an excessive form of intertextuality that signifies the relationship existing between scriptural predecessor and rewritten piece with respect to the question of authority. Apart from advancing the theoretical discussion of the nomenclature, the essay takes a fresh look at a moot point that has loomed large in previous debates, whether rewritten Scripture strives to replace its scriptural predecessor or aims to complement it in an irenic fashion. The acknowledgement of some aspectualism grants legitimacy to both viewpoints, when they are rightfully understood within their proper perspectives. Finally, the article engages in typological considerations that will allow us to distinguish between three continua defined by respectively content, form, and function. Each constitutes a continuum on its own that advantageously may be segmented by several caesuras, which will allow us to differentiate between irenic scriptural completion at the one end of the spectrum and scriptural cannibalism at the other end of the spectrum. The fact that two works belonging to the category diverge on one continuum does not imply a corresponding divergence at other continua.

Journal for the Study of Judaism

In the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period




See, e.g., J. C. VanderKam, “The Wording of Biblical Citations in Some Rewritten Scriptural Works,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert Discoveries (ed. E. D. Herbert and E. Tov; London: British Library, 2002), 41-56, esp. 43, 52-53.


S. Talmon, “The Crystallization of the ‘Canon of Hebrew Scriptures’ in the Light of Biblical Scrolls from Qumran,” in Text and Canon of the Hebrew Bible. Collected Studies (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2010), 419-42, esp. 421-22, 439; VanderKam, “The Wording of Biblical Citations,” 52-53; R. A. Kraft, “Para-mania: Beside, Before and Beyond Bible Studies,” JBL 126 (2007): 5-27; idem, “Pursuing the Para-Scriptural by Means of the Pre-Scriptural” (Paper delivered at University of Toronto 11 April 2007; available at the internet on the following address:—seen 19.07.2012); E. C. Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible (SDSSRL; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999), 17, 31, 59-60; García Martínez, “Rethinking the Bible,” 20-21.


A. Lange, “ ‘In the Second Degree’: Ancient Jewish Paratextual Literature in Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Jewish Paratextual Literature in the Context of Graeco-Roman and Ancient Near Eastern Literature,” in In the Second Degree. Paratextual Literature in Ancient Near Eastern and Ancient Mediterranean Culture and Its Reflections in Medieval Literature (ed. P. S. Alexander, A. Lange, and R. J. Pillinger; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 3-42, esp. 17.


See my forthcoming essays, “The Gospel of Judas: A Scriptural Amplification or a Canonical Encroachment?” in Judasevangelium und Codex Tchacos (ed. E. E. Popkes and G. Wurst; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012), and “Textual Fidelity,” 2013.


M. J. Bernstein, “ ‘Rewritten Bible’: A Generic Category Which Has Outlived its Usefulness?” Textus 22 (2005): 169-96; M. Segal, “Between Bible and Rewritten Bible,” in Biblical Interpretation at Qumran (ed. M. Henze; SDSSRL; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005), 10-29.


C. A. Newsom, The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran (STDJ 52; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 6.


Segal, “Between Bible,” 28.


White Crawford, Rewriting Scripture, 5.


See, e.g., D. D. Swanson, The Temple Scroll and the Bible: The Methodology of 11QT (STDJ 14; Leiden: Brill, 1995), 227; Bernstein, “Rewritten Bible,” 193-95; Segal, “Beween Bible,” 11, 21-22; D. Dimant, “The Scrolls and the Study of Early Judaism,” in The Dead Sea Scrolls at Fifty: Proceedings of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature Qumran Section Meetings (ed. R. A. Kugler and E. M. Schuller; SBLEJL 15; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 43-59, esp. 50; George J. Brooke, “Rewritten Bible,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. L. H. Schiffman and J. C. VanderKam; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 777-81, esp. 779.


H. J. Lundager Jensen, “En anden mester,” Kritik 109 (1994): 13-17.


Don Rosa, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Volume One (Los Angeles: Boom Kids, 2009); idem, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Volume Two (Los Angeles: Boom Kids, 2010); idem, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Companion (Los Angeles: Boom Kids, 2010).


Don Rosa, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Part One. ‘The Last of the Clan McDuck,’ ” in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Volume One, 10-23, esp. 20. An additional dime story recounting the struggles pertaining to Scrooge McDuck’s acquisition of his favourite dime is found in the Companion volume. See Don Rosa, “Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinies,” in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Companion, 5-19.


Don Rosa, “The Master of the Mississippi,” in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Volume One, 26-54.


See my forthcoming essay, “From Morse to Matthew: Rewritten Scripture as an Epitome of Semiotic Riverrun,” in Contextualising Rewritten Scripture (ed. A. K. Petersen; Leiden: Brill, 2013).


H. Najman, Seconding Sinai. The Development of Mosaic Discourse in Second Temple Judaism (JSJSup 77; Leiden: Brill, 2003), 44. For Najman’s whole discussion of this issue, see particularly 43-50. In her recent collection of essays, Past Renewals. Interpretative Authority, Renewed Revelation and the Quest for Perfection in Jewish Antiquity (JSJSup 53; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 54, however, Najman comes close to acknowledging at least Jubilees as a text that strives to acclaim for itself a higher authority than that attributed to the Torah (the essay referred to was originally published by Najman in 1999).


P. S. Alexander, “Retelling the Old Testament,” in It Is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture: Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars (ed. D. A. Carson and H. G. M. Williamson; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 99-121, esp. 116. See also G. J. Brooke, who has done much perceptive work on this issue. See, e.g., “The Rewritten Law, Prophets and Psalms: Issues for Understanding the Text of the Bible,” in The Bible as Book: The Hebrew Bible and the Judaean Desert, 31-40, esp. 33; idem, “Between Authority and Canon: The Significance of Reworking the Bible for Understanding the Canonical Process,” in Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran: Proceedings of a Joint Symposium (ed. E. G. Chazon, D. Dimant, and R. A. Clements; STDJ 58; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 85-104, esp. 96; and the aforementioned essay “Hypertextuality and ‘Parabiblical,’ ” 51-52.


B. Z. Wachholder, “The Relationship between 11QTorah (The Temple Scroll) and the Book of Jubilees: One Single or Two Compositions,” SBL Seminar Papers. 1985 (SBLSP 24; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1985), 205-16, and “Jubilees as the Super Canon: Torah-Admonition versus Torah-Commandment,” in Legal Texts and Legal Issues: Proceedings of the Second Meeting of the International Organization for Qumran Studies, Cambridge 1985 (ed. M. J. Bernstein, F. García Martínez, and J. Kampen; STDJ 23; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 195-211.


L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations. The German Text, with a Revised English Translation (trans. G. E. M. Anscombe; Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), Part II, §11.


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