Four Kingdom Motifs before and beyond the Book of Daniel is the result of a joint initiative between Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Trinity Western University. This essay outlines our project aims and outcomes re-garding the inception, transmission, and redeployments of the four king-doms motif in historiographies from ancient through mediaeval writings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The historiographical mechanism of counting imperial exchanges in the Mediterranean and Near East is well-represented in ancient sources. For Western culture, however, the most familiar articulations of a four king-doms motif are found in the book of Daniel received in the canons of Juda-ism and Christianity. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, research on Daniel lacked an appropriate context for comparative study. Several fea-tures that set Daniel apart from its closest “biblical” kin resonate with themes and topics of new finds among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is partic-ularly the case with the Aramaic writings in the collection. These too were penned in Aramaic, emerged in the mid-Second Temple period, and exhibit strong apocalyptic bents. This corner of the Qumran collection, therefore, provided an unexpected yet essential body of writings for rethinking the content and context of Daniel. In this essay, I explore the extent of four kingdoms motifs in these writings in order to demonstrate the broader cur-rency of this chronology in the apocalyptic historiographies that permeate the Aramaic collection. The outcomes of this study demonstrate the im-portance of (i) studying Daniel traditions as a part of ancient Judaism’s Ar-amaic scribal heritage, not apart from it and (ii) acknowledging the prob-lems of assuming Danielic priority or influence in the collection by virtue of shared ideas, terms, and outlooks.
It is widely recognized that the authors of the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls often shrouded their tales in first person voices and exhibited a perennial interest in the production and transmission of ancestral booklore. The present study explores the literary convention of the incipit in light of these interrelated methods of pseudepigraphy. Throughout the Aramaic Scrolls incipits introduce entire compositions and putative texts within narratives. Comparative philological analysis reveals that these incipits feature strikingly similar literary-linguistic idioms. However, it is equally apparent that that these common elements were uniquely patterned by individual authors. It is suggested that these commonalities should inform how we conceive of the scribal milieu(s) from which the Aramaic Scrolls emerged and our understanding of pseudepigraphy in early Judaism. The article concludes with a fresh proposal for the function of the title “A Copy of the Writing of the Words of Noah” in 1QapGen 5:29.
In light of the growing consensus that the book of Tobit was originally penned in Aramaic, the fragmentary Hebrew copy 4QTobe is a singularly unique literary artifact of Second Temple Judaism. While a cluster of other Aramaic works were read and received as authoritative literature by at least some Jews at this time (e.g., Daniel 2-7, the booklets of 1 Enoch, and Aramaic Levi Document), Tobit alone was translated from the common language of the ancient Near East into the traditional Israelite mother tongue. This study explores how the shift from Aramaic to Hebrew should inform our conception of the status and reception of Tobit in ancient Judaism. By virtue of the new linguistic overlay given to 4QTobe, this manuscript should be considered a literary edition in its own right, with an ostensibly higher level or different degree of authority than its Aramaic language counterparts.