What Has Happened to the Laws? The Treatment of Legal Material in 4QReworked Pentateuch

Dead Sea Discoveries


The biblical or non-biblical nature of the manuscripts currently identified as 4QReworked Pentateuch (4Q158; 4Q364–67) has been the subject of much scholarly discussion. This paper addresses a facet of those texts which has unfortunately been ignored in most of those discussions, namely their treatment of the legal material in the Pentateuch. An examination of the surviving legal portions of 4QReworked Pentateuch, manuscript by manuscript, indicates that much greater freedom is shown in handling the laws than in any known pentateuchal textual tradition. We find that laws are omitted from their original locations in the Pentateuch, and, almost without exception, do not reappear in a new location. There also appears to be almost no exegetical reworking of the laws. We conclude that we should not presume that the 4QRP texts included the entire Pentateuch, and that their omission of legal material should probably lead us to characterize some, if not all, of them as non-biblical.


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