The Dead Sea Scrolls: Insight into Traditioning Processes and the Growth of Gospel Traditions

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This article proposes that parallel traditions among the Dead Sea Scrolls offer a comparative data-set by which to reassess “the Synoptic problem” in the New Testament gospels. The Dead Sea materials, not only shared traditions but also differences between them, whether in the manuscripts of the same work or overlapping portions of different works, show similarities to the ways in which the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and the putative “Q” overlap and depart from one another. The multiple degrees in which some Dead Sea texts evolved underscore the plausibility that, with or without the influence of oral tradition, texts could change and develop rapidly through literary activity in a relatively short period of time.


This article proposes that parallel traditions among the Dead Sea Scrolls offer a comparative data-set by which to reassess “the Synoptic problem” in the New Testament gospels. The Dead Sea materials, not only shared traditions but also differences between them, whether in the manuscripts of the same work or overlapping portions of different works, show similarities to the ways in which the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and the putative “Q” overlap and depart from one another. The multiple degrees in which some Dead Sea texts evolved underscore the plausibility that, with or without the influence of oral tradition, texts could change and develop rapidly through literary activity in a relatively short period of time.

1 Introduction: Posing the Question

The present article offers a preliminary discussion that invites New Testament and Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship to engage in a comparative yet critical conversation. Without presenting a thoroughgoing analysis or sustaining a close reading of texts, it draws attention to an area of research that has thus far not been given due attention. The issue at hand is how a study of the emergence of gospel traditions in the New Testament can profit from a consideration of the ways traditions developed among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Of course, much of the work on the scrolls in relation to the study of early Christianity has been dominated by the piecing together of evidence that may or may not suggest how ideas in the scrolls have influenced the Jewish world of Jesus and ideas preserved in the New Testament.1 However, any assumption that the Dead Sea Scrolls’ significance for the study of the New Testament and early Christianity depends almost entirely on the question of influence, whether it was direct or came about through the reception of commonly inherited traditions, can blindside one to other areas of inquiry. In the discussion below we search instead for mutually illuminating perspectives that may be gleaned by asking similar questions of both corpora.

What processes were in play when, for example, sayings associated with Jesus took on written form and, in turn, early written records merged into literary productions that we now call “gospels”? This overriding question has, of course, been a prominent one in Western scholarship since the latter part of the 18th century,2 and discussions about the process of producing the New Testament gospels, the Synoptics in particular, have revolved around a number of hypotheses that attempt to account for differences and similarities among them. These hypotheses have been concerned with the study of one or more stages and dimensions in the development of tradition: (a) oral communication (including the possibility of translation at this level); (b) transference from oral tradition to literary transmission (again, including the possibility of translation at this stage); (c) literary editing or rewriting of received traditions; (d) the production of larger literary works; and (e) the continuing impact of oral tradition on written forms.

As we shall see below, one analogy to the synoptic relationships among the gospels may be found in parallel or, more specifically, overlapping texts among the scrolls. By looking more closely at the Dead Sea materials, especially when the same compositions or closely related works3 are preserved in more than one manuscript, we may better come to understand how literary traditions could develop and how a given composition, through editing, rewriting and further changes, could be transformed into a new literary piece. Before considering such insights, it is appropriate to sketch major lines of research on what has become known as “the Synoptic problem,” that is, the question of how to account for the similarities and differences (in terms of structure, content, and wording) between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.4

2 Research History: A Brief Overview

It is well known that scholars have found various ways to explain the existence of shared material amongst the gospels. Such common tradition can be observed in word-for-word correspondences, parallel units of tradition (sometimes with only minor differences), and shared sequences of content. The recognition of these commonalities has resulted in hypotheses that postulate some kind of direct or indirect literary dependence of one text upon another. Nevertheless, the challenge has remained, in light of such shared tradition, how to construe the differences. In order to illustrate both overlaps and differences, scholars have offered a synoptic presentation of the parallel texts that includes the following combinations: (a) Mark, Matthew and Luke (the so-called “Triple Tradition”); (b) Mark and Matthew alone; (c) Mark and Luke alone; (d) Matthew and Luke alone (often referred to as “Q”); and even (e) one or more of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John.5 In line with these comparisons, a number of literary hypotheses have been proposed.6 Some, for example, have maintained, with varying degrees of nuance, that the Gospels of Mark and Luke presuppose the literary priority of Matthew’s Gospel,7 while others have argued instead that Luke preserves the Jesus tradition in its earliest form and that, accordingly, the contents of Matthew and Mark are, on the whole, the more derivative.8 The still most widely accepted explanation, however, remains what is commonly called the “Two Source Hypothesis”: (i) Mark’s Gospel was the first to have been composed, (ii) Matthew and Luke independently relied on it (or on a form closely related to what is preserved), and (iii), as continues to be the case for many, the significant amount of material not found in Mark but shared by Matthew and Luke can be explained by their use of a literary source called “Q”.9 In addition, many argue that both Matthew and Luke contain unique material that may reflect their respective use of special sources not available to the other gospel writers.10

However, an approach that focuses exclusively on literary relationships among the Synoptic Gospels has not always been regarded as a satisfactory way to account for differences, especially when it comes to overlapping traditions. Without necessarily appealing to translation (e.g., of Jesus sayings) from Aramaic or Hebrew into Greek,11 several scholars have thus underscored the process of oral transmission as a factor that needs to be taken seriously.12 While this approach by no means excludes processes of literary transmission in the development of Jesus tradition, advocates claim that in particular instances oral culture can be said to have shaped the gospels in their present form.13 To be sure, there are very few who in principle doubt that orality would have played a role at various stages in the traditioning process. Nonetheless, it remains difficult to demonstrate precisely how and in which cases oral instead of written traditioning has taken place. Indeed, the argument that oral transmission underlies a written tradition depends to a large degree on the assumption that scribal activity would less likely be open to the kinds of differences that can be observed among parallel traditions in the Synoptic Gospels. Correspondingly, orality is regarded as inherently more flexible and thus would be subject to a wider vicissitudes of development and to changes than would be the case when editorial and compositional work on a more fixed text is in play.14

This brief overview of research in gospels studies allows us again to consider one way an examination of differences among textually overlapping materials among the Dead Sea documents may offer insight into “the Synoptic problem”. As the purpose of this article is not to propose a new solution, it is best at this stage to raise questions that underlie source-critical study of the New Testament gospels. These questions, not least with both the gospels and Dead Sea materials in view, may be formulated as follows: (1) What steps did authors or editors of one composition take to transform traditional material into a new work with a distinct character? (2) At what point does editorial work on a document result in a new recension or, even further, something that one might regard as a new literary work altogether?

3 Bringing the Value of Comparisons with the Dead Sea Documents into Focus

The special contribution the Dead Sea Scrolls have to make in answering the questions just posed is better ascertained if we note models for comparison that other ancient sources represent. Comparisons between overlapping texts serve aims related to several distinguishable levels: (1) establishing the earliest reconstructable text, (2) determining the stylistic and thematic character of recensions, and (3) studying compositions that, despite their affinity in content, should be studied in their own right.15

First, as is the case for nearly every work attested in more than one manuscript from antiquity, variability within a written tradition, however minimal, can be observed. The differences among manuscripts of a work are, of course, commonly referred to as “text-critical variants”. Here the variants are deemed to have emerged during the course of scribal reproduction of a base manuscript and, ultimately, are predicated on the notion of an earlier tradition often called Urtext or Urschrift.16 They can often be explained as arising from mistakes (through copying—e.g., parablepsis, homoioarcton, homoioteleuton—or dictation), different spelling conventions, rearrangement of word order, substitution of synonymous expressions, stylistic “improvements”, small-scale efforts to smooth out or correct problematic or difficult content, the integration of scribal notes on the margins, or minor additions or harmonizations that take extraneous material or tradition into account. To the extent that tendencies can be said to characterize such small-scale changes among a series of manuscripts in contrast with others, one can speak of “text-types” or “families” of manuscripts.17

Second, a single work can be said to exist in two or more recensions, which either singly or as a whole reflect a continuous reworking or rewriting of the text in a certain way. In exploring factors behind the generation of distinct recensions for a work, one may focus on matters of linguistic and possibly ideological or theological tendency.18 In turn, each recension, insofar as it is attested in more than one manuscript, can be text-critically studied.19 The existence of distinguishable recensions for the same literary work for ancient Jewish and Christian documents is well known and documented. Examples for this phenomenon are readily observable in Greek Daniel, Greek and Latin Tobit, Ethiopic Enoch (or 1 Enoch), Slavonic Enoch (or 2 Enoch), Joseph and Aseneth, Testament of Abraham, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and Ahiqar Proverbs.

Third, and on a broader scale, there are a number of instances in which Jewish and early Christian writings share large amounts of material while, at the same time, they reflect clearly distinguishable aims. Pairs of writings that display such a relationship include, for example, Samuel-Kings and 1–2 Chronicles,20 and Life of Adam and Eve and Assumption or Apocalypse of Moses.21 Although methods of comparison and models of textual relationships necessarily emerge from inductive study of materials in question, there is potentially much to be gained from a look at issues arising from such texts and attention being given to the Synoptic problem in the New Testament.

Not only in the last mentioned category, but also in the other two, comparisons often resemble and present the sorts of issues that arise when parallel texts of the gospels are analysed. Hence the existence of these materials in and of themselves illustrate that the disciplines of textual and source criticism should not be distinguished as if they represent unrelated spheres of scholarly activity. Nevertheless, none of the above models suffices by itself as a conceptual framework through which to explain differences or changes amongst parallel texts of the Synoptic Gospels. The process of scribal transmission of a single composition (analysed in terms of text-criticism) can only be made to account for smaller or relatively slight changes between texts and does not begin to address how some of the major differences (as in the production of different recensions or new literary works) could have arisen. Thus, while manuscripts furnish data that make text-critical analysis possible, it is more difficult to ascertain what processes led to the rise of recensions and new compositions.

The materials listed under recensions and parallel compositions above have not as yet been brought into meaningful conversation with the Synoptic problem in mind,22 a conversation that in some sense may be regarded as a desideratum. For instance, we may ask: What formal analogies exist here and what might these analogies tell us about the processes that shaped the production of overlapping, yet essentially different writings? Now, while some analogical insights may be forthcoming from the writings mentioned above, they are of limited value in at least one respect: in no case can a chronological proximity between the parallel traditions be materially established. By contrast, in their present form the Synoptic Gospels were probably produced within a generation of one another, so that we are to imagine that their respective forms belie a relatively brief period of development, even if stages of tradition reaching back to before the First Jewish War are taken into account. It is perhaps given the absence of literary analogies for rapid and wide-ranging growth of tradition, some New Testament scholars have pointed in the direction of oral transmission in order to account for both continuity and (especially) fluidity of tradition,23 as well as to throw light on how easily the smaller discrete units could appear in different arrangements.24 This is where the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls comes into play.

4 Traditioning Processes Amongst Dead Sea Materials

The existence among the Dead Sea Scrolls of compositions in multiple recensions, on the one hand, and of distinguishable compositions that share overlapping traditions between them, on the other, furnishes potentially important data for understanding traditioning processes behind the Synoptic Gospels.25 As in the gospels, the scrolls offer evidence—roughly contemporary—for transmission, editing, rewriting and adaptation of traditions that could not only lead to textual variants but also metamorphose into new arrangements of textual units, new recensions, or even to works of noticeably different character. The importance of such evidence, despite many remaining questions,26 cannot be overestimated. Unlike the gospels, whose precise provenience of composition remains a matter of inference, it can at least be said that the Dead Sea manuscripts have been recovered from caves proximate to one another (whatever the relationship between the collections in these caves may have been); significantly, in a number of cases the same or related documents have been found in different caves (so some of the documents listed below). In other words, the scrolls may in this way help to illuminate the kinds of literary processes at work as compositions were circulating at early stages of their existence. The best examples of documents going through a process of smaller27 or more substantive28 changes can be observed in the following: Community Rule (1QS, 4Q255–264, 5Q11); Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa, 1Q35, 4Q427–432, 4Q471b); War Scroll (1QM, 4Q491–496; cf. 4Q471 and also the disputed status of 4Q285 par. 11Q14); Damascus Document (Cairo Geniza manuscripts A and B, 4Q266–273, 5Q12, 6Q15; cf. also Cairo Geniza manuscripts A and B); Instruction (1Q26, 4Q415–418, 4Q418a, 4Q423); Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (4Q400–407, 11Q17, Masada ms.); and Barkhi Nafshi (4Q434–438). Beyond the level of textual readings themselves, Community Rule, Hodayot, and War Scroll illustrate the growth and development of documents through additions, omissions, and rearrangements of material.

We note here a few examples of differences among parallel traditions. In terms of textual relationships, comparisons by Dead Sea Scrolls specialists on Community Rule (S=Serek Ha-Yaḥad) such as Sarianna Metso, Charlotte Hempel, and Alison Schofield have identified and discussed differences among the 1QS and 4QS manuscripts.29 In terms of sections of material, it is well known that a number of the 4QS materials, with the exception of 4Q257 column 5 (lines 1–8 and 11–13 // 1QS 4:4–10, 12–14), do not preserve any portion of the Two Spirits Treatise (attested by 1QS 3:13–4:26), while the beginning of 4Q258 suggests that, unless the order of materials was significantly reconfigured, this manuscript did not include any part contained in 1QS columns 1–4. In addition, 4Q259, following text that overlaps with 1QS 9:20–25 (cf. 4Q259 4a–d 1–8), has material that details the names and times of priestly courses not found in any of the other Serek manuscripts but instead overlaps with 4Q319 (4QOtot). Moreover, as is well known, 1QS 8:15b–9:11 has an equivalent text in 4Q258, a section that, however, is completely missing in 4Q259 3:6–7 (“. . . through the hand of Moses. These are the regu[lations] / for the Ins[tructor . . .”).30

In terms of smaller differences, the Serek manuscripts exhibit the kinds of variations which, also observable in the Synoptic tradition (see further below), one would expect in the course of scribal transmission. These variations reflect, for example, distinguishable orthographic tendencies of individual scribes, the occasional addition (or deletion) of single words or short phrases, or light rephrasing.31 Of particular interest, though, may be, within the context of overlapping material, the presence of text in one recension that is absent in another. This can be observed, for example, in additional material in 1QS 5 when it is compared with the parallel texts in 4Q256 9:1–13 and 4Q258 1:1–11. This additional material in 1QS occurs in both shorter32 and longer33 amounts, and among the overlapping or corresponding texts the phraseology and wording also differ at a number of points.34 The relationship is not one-sided: in a few instances, the 4QS manuscripts preserve short phrases not found in 1QS.35 Some of the differences of 1QS in comparison to the 4QS manuscripts may be classified as follows:

  1. Additional material in 1QS through formal citation from sacred tradition.

    1. 1QS 8:14 cites Isa 40:1 (boldface in the text of lines 12–16 below, with further additions in light font):

      ‫(12) ובהיות אלה ליחד בישראל
      ‫(13) בתכונים האלה יבדלו מתוך מושב הנשי העול ללכת למדבר לפנות שם את דרכ הואהא
      כאשר כתוב במדבר פנו דרך . . . . ישרו בערבה מסלה לאלוהינו‫ (14)
      ‫(15) היאה מדרש התורה א֯[ש]ר֯ צוה ביד מושה לעשות כולכ הנגלה עת בעת
      ‫(16) וכאשר גלו הנביאים ברוח קודשו

      The quotation is absent from the parallel 4Q258 6:7 (indicated by “/”),lines 6–8:

      ‫(6) ובהיות אלה[ בישראל ]יבדלו מ[תוך מושב
      ‫(7) אנשי [העול לפנות את דרך הואהא במדבר / היא מדרש התור]ה אשר צוה בי[ד משה לע]שות כל[ הנגלה
      ‫(8) ע[ת בעת וכאשר גלו הנביאים ברוח קודשו . . .]

    2. 1QS 5:15 cites Exod 23:7; the quotation is absent from the parallel texts in 4Q256 9:9 and 4Q258 1:8.

  2. Change by means of substitution of an expression. This is observable, for example, in the variance of designation used for a particular group:

    1. 1QS 5:2 (“the Sons of Zadok, the priests who keep the Torah”; cf. also 5:9):

      ומשיבים על פי בני צדוק הכוהנים שומרי הברית

      4Q256 9:3 and 4Q258 1:2 (“the Many”):

      ‫(ומשיבים) על פי הרבים

    2. 1QS 5:9 (“the Sons of Zadok”)

      4Q258 1:7 (“the council of the me[n] of the communi[ty”), in a much abbreviated text.

    3. 1QS 5:1 (“the men of the Yaḥad”)

      4Q258 1:1 (“the men of the Torah”).

  3. Elaboration.

    1. 1QS 5:10b–13a: The text (paralleled by the much shorter text in 4Q258 1:7–8) describes the wickedness and punishment that will come upon “the men of injustice.”

    2. In addition, unlike its shorter counterpart in 4Q258, 1QS extends and reinforces the description of punishments through further additions in lines 13b–15 and 16–18a, respectively, while also additionally expressing authentic piety in terms of circumcising “the foreskin” of the inclination (1QS 5:5; cf. 5:26).

  4. Smaller relocation of material within a passage (cf. possibly 1QS 5:16 and 4Q256 9:10–11).

  5. Absence of material. In a few instances one or more “shorter” 4QS manuscripts contain phrases or words not found in 1QS (4Q256 9:9 and 4Q258 1:8, cf. 1QS 5:13; 4Q256 9:10–11 and 4Q258 1:9, cf. 1QS 5:16; 4Q258 2:3, cf. 1QS 5:23).

By analogy, if, for example, we consider differences between parallel traditions in Mark and one of the other gospels into view—however it is that we explain them—very similar shifts are found to be at work. Below, the comparative categories outlined above are illustrated in the Synoptic tradition:

  1. Additional material through formal citation of sacred tradition in one gospel as opposed to Mark and other parallels to Mark:

    Matt 4:13–17 with Isa 9:1–2 [vv. 15–16], cf. Mark 1:14, 21

    Matt 12:1–8 with Hos 6:6 [v. 7], cf. Mark 2:23–28

    Matt 8:16–17 with Isa 53:4 [v. 17], cf. Mark 32–34

    Matt 9:9–13 with Hos 6:6 [v. 13], cf. Mark 2:13–17

    Matt 12:15–21 with Isa 42:1–14 [vv. 18–21], cf. Mark 3:7–12

    Matt 13:10–17 with Isa 6:9–10 [vv. 14–15], cf. Mark 4:10–12: an allusion to Isa has been formalized in Matt

    Matt 13:34–35 with Ps 78:2 [v. 35], cf. Mark 4:33–34

    Matt 21:1–9 with Isa 62:11 and Zech 9:9 [vv. 4–5], cf. Mark 11:1–10

    Matt 21:10–17 with Ps 8:2 [v. 16], cf. Mark 11:11, 15–17

    Mark 12:28–34 with Lev 19:18 (2nd time), Hos 6:6 and Mic 6:6–8 [v. 33], cf. Matt 22:34–40

    Luke 4:16–30 with Isa 61:1–2 [vv. 18–21], cf. 6:1–6a

    John 2:13–17 with Ps 69:9 [v. 17], cf. Mark 11:15–17

    John 19:28–30 with Ps 69:21 [v. 28], cf. Mark 15:33–39

  2. Change by means of substitution, shown, for example, through interest in particular groups, as in Matthew and Luke where in several cases there is a focus on or inclusion of the Pharisees when the parallel in Mark only mentions “scribes”.36

    Matt 9:34, cf. Mark 3:22 (controversy over the source of Jesus’s exorcisms).

    Matt 23:1–36 (Jesus’s denunciation of scribes and Pharisees), cf. Mark 12:38–40 (denunciation of the scribes).

    Luke 7:36–50, cf. Mark 14:3–9 and Matt 26:6–13 (anointing of the woman).

  3. Elaboration that is frequent and takes many forms. In light of the differences between 1QS and 4QS manuscripts mentioned above, we could note:

    1. The additional description in Matthew, probably taken from tradition (“Q”) regarding the punishment of the unfaithful who will suffer “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:12 // Luke 13:28; Matt 22:13, cf. Luke 14:24; Matt 24:51, cf. Luke 12:46; Matt 25:30, cf. Luke 19:27; see also Matt 13:42, 50 without parallel).

      In addition, elaborations in Matthew and Luke of traditional material are numerous, so that only a few examples can be listed below.

    2. Little phrases (e.g., Matt 12:32 “in this age or in the age to come”, cf. Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10; Matt 12:45 “with him”, cf. Luke 11:26; Matt 24:9b “nations”, cf. Mark 13:13 and Luke 21:17; Matt 23:39 “again”, cf. Luke 13:35; Matt 26:16 “from that moment”, cf. Mark 14:11; Matt 26:31 “because of me this night”, cf. Mark 14:27; Luke 9:26b “in his glory”, cf. Mark 8:38b and Matt 16:27; Luke 20:36 “for they cannot die any more”, cf. Mark 12:25 and Matt 22:30).

      Longer phrases and sentences (Matt 18:7, cf. Mark 9:42; Matt 22:4, cf. Luke 14:18; Luke 7:44b–46a and 48, cf. Mark 14:8–9 and Matt 26:11–13; Luke 11:32, cf. Matt 12:42; Luke 12:47–48, cf. Matt 24:50; Luke 12:57, cf. Matt 5:25; Luke 15:1–2, cf. Mark 18:12; Luke 15:6, cf. Matt 18:13).

  4. Numerous small-scale relocations of material within a shared tradition.

    Matt 11:12–13, cf. Luke 16:16; Matt 12:26 and Luke 11:18, cf. Mark 3:23; Matt 19:7–8, cf. Mark 10:3–5.

  5. There are many instances in which the often “shorter” text of Mark preserves material not found in the parallels of either Matthew or Luke.37

    Smaller phrases (Mark 3:5 “with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart”, cf. Matt 12:12 and Luke 6:10; Mark 4:32 “puts forth large branches”, cf. Matt 13:32 and Luke 13:19; Mark 14:7, cf. Matt 26:11 and John 12:8).

    Longer phrases and sentences (Mark 1:33, cf. Matt 8:16 and Luke 40; Mark 2:19, cf. Matt 9:15 and Luke 5:34; Mark 3:9, 11–12, cf. Matt 4:25/Matt 12:16 and Luke 6:17–18/4:41; Mark 9:50, cf. Matt 5:13 and Luke 14:35).

The comparative instances outlined show that the kinds of things that could happen in the course of transmission of an identifiable written tradition (as in the Serek texts) could also take place during a process in which traditions pass hands, that is, from their form in one document to their form in another document (as in the gospels). These analogies suggest that some materials, on a smaller scale, could have been initially reworked within the framework of a previous literary home before being made part of a new literary work such as another gospel.

Several further examples from the Dead Sea Scrolls show not only how forms of traditions but also how the locations of these traditions—and hence, the shape of documents containing them—could change and shift in the course of the edition and transmission of a work. These examples emerge as we consider briefly manuscripts for Hodayot, War Scrolls, and the Damascus Document.

Thanksgiving Hymns (H=Hodayot). On the basis of her study of the 4QHa manuscripts, Eileen Schuller has concluded that the Thanksgiving Hymns are preserved in three versions that can be argued to have contained individual psalms in a different sequence and with different content.38 An initial look at 1QHa and 4QHa alone makes differences of sequence apparent in at least two places:

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In (A) the continuous sequence in 4Q427 3 1–3 and 4 is broken in 1QHa 20:4–6 and 25:34, while (B) the sequence in 4Q427 8 i and ii is broken up into pieces found in 1QHa 7:14–20 and 20:7–21.

The impression of 1QHa as a more elaborate version of the Thanksgiving Hymns is bolstered by further considerations. Whereas 1QHa contained an elaborate collection of psalms that includes a number of what Gert Jeremias and others identified as “Teacher Hymns,”39 reconstructions of the more fragmentary 4QHa (4Q427) and 4QHe (4Q431, to which perhaps 4Q471b, copied by the same scribal hand, originally belonged) reflect varying collections that were more limited in scope. 4Q427 seems to preserve a collection comprised exclusively of what Schuller describes as “more liturgically oriented” Community Hymns, though not all those Community psalms that are found in 1QHa. 4Q431 could have preserved primarily Community Hymns as well (corresponding mostly to 1QHa cols. 17–28) and, in any case, the psalms are in a sequence that differs from 4Q427 and 1QHa.

Here we come across an example of a tradition that appears in several literary contexts. The so-called “Self-Glorification Hymn” at the beginning of 4Q431 (published by Esther Eshel in djd 29 under “4Q471b”40 and not a very good example of a “Community” psalm!) occurs more towards the end of the reconstructed 1QHa (from col. 25:34 to the early part of col. 27), while in the reconstructed 4Q427 this psalm occupies a much earlier, second position (2:18–5:3). Of course, it should be noted that where there are overlaps among the hymns in all the 1QHodayot and 4QHodayot manuscripts, the commonplace minor textual variants can be observed. In addition to the Hodayot materials, it is worth noting that a further fragmentary text of the “Self-Glorification Hymn” was published among fragments related to War Scroll in 4Q491 (frg. 11 i),41 though the text there belongs to a fragment that may have belonged to yet another hymnic work. In any case, the different literary locations of the Self-Glorification Hymn illustrates how a discrete tradition could “travel,” not only within documents consisting of different recensions, but also between documents as well.42 The latter phenomenon is illustrated, for example, by the different locations in which the “Cleansing of the Temple” episode is found in the gospel tradition: within the passion narrative in the Synoptics (Matt 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46) and near the beginning of the Gospel of John (2:13–17).

War Scroll (M=Milḥamah). In addition to 1QM (= 1Q33), at least six fragmentary manuscripts preserving overlapping and related material come from Cave 4: 4Q491–496.43 The textual relationship of the 4QM manuscripts to 1QM is complicated, so that it is best to summarize the situation of each manuscript separately:

  • 4Q491: Fragments 1–16, which overlap with parts of 1QM, were simply sequenced by the djd editor, Maurice Baillet, according to the order of the running text in 1QM; fragments 17–37, on the other hand, bear no obvious textual overlap with 1QM. In fragments 1–16 alone, however, it appears that the sequence of material differs from the arrangement found in 1QM, so that here we have to do with different recensions.

  • 4Q492: With only small variants, the text of this manuscript (3 frgs., one larger and two smaller ones) corresponds to the text in 1QM 12:8–16).

  • 4Q493: Despite the common thematic interest in (a) the involvement of priests and sons of Aaron in battle, (b) their blowing of trumpets in battle and (c) words inscribed on the trumpets, the textual connection with 1QM is hard to establish. As with 4Q491, the manuscript may reflect a different recension of Milḥamah.

  • 4Q494: The small fragment of this manuscript corresponds to the end of 1QM col. 1 to 2:3, with only small variants.

  • 4Q495: Two fragments here overlap with 1QM 10:9–10 and 13:9–12, respectively, and preserve no meaningful textual variants.

  • 4Q496: 123 mostly very small fragments of this manuscript can be made to correspond with sections in 1QM (so frgs. 1–14, 16, and 75), though the specific contents of many of these fragments cannot be identified with the text of 1QM. If we consider the fragments as a whole, a textual relationship with 1QM can be shown, although the text is not always identical, with 4Q496 sometimes having a shorter text and less elaborate system of divisions.

  • 4Q497 (54 frgs.) has no obvious overlap with any part of the text 1QM, and it is impossible to confirm or disconfirm that it had any relationship with Milḥamah.

The picture we are left with is that 4Q491 and 4Q493 probably reflect a different or two different recensions of the document preserved in 1QM. In addition, all the manuscripts (except for 4Q495), where there are overlaps in content, contain smaller variants.

Damascus Document (D). Here we leave aside the differences among the 4QD, 5QD and 6QD manuscripts (4Q266–273, 5Q12 and 6Q15), but also those between these Dead Sea manuscripts, on the one hand, and the Cairo Geniza materials (cd A and B), on the other. Instead, we draw attention to the well known Penal Code in 4Q266 10 ii 1–15, which is closely paralleled by 1QS 7:8–16. That there is a literary relationship between these texts (and more partial parallels in the Serek-like 4Q265 1 ii 1–2; Damascus Document mss. 4Q269 11 i 5–8, ii 1 and 4Q270 7 i 1–10) is beyond doubt; although each text adds further details (see below), the sequence of infractions addressed is essentially the same. If we restrict ourselves to 1QS 7 and 4Q266 10 ii, the relationship could be explained as either one document drawing directly on the other (with a text similar to 4Q266 being taken up in 1QS as the more likely direction, in my view) or both texts drawing on a shared tradition (such as, e.g., 4Q265) that lies outside either document.

A comparison of the Penal Code in two passages44 throws light on a variety of differences, especially the small amounts of unique material in each text:

4Q266: (a) see 10 ii 3–4, 4–5, 6, 9–10, 11, 12, 13; (b) in particular, the text in this version repeatedly refers to being “excluded” in addition to being punished (10 ii 2, 4, 6, 10, 11, 12), so that there is, in effect, a double punishment in several cases, as opposed to single mentions thereof in 1QS.

1QS: (a) 7:9, 10, 10, 11, 12, 13, 13–14; (b) the text shows an interest in (i) “the Many” as the socio-religious context in which the penalties are to be carried out (7:10, 13, 15), (ii) qualifying two of the punishable activities (e.g., 7:9 “for any reason”; 7:12 “without needing to”) and (iii) including the mention of clothing insufficient for hiding the male sexual organ (7:13–14). The penalty for spitting in the assembly in 7:13 may either be a genuine addition to the received tradition or have been omitted from the tradition in 4Q266 10 ii 10 due to homoioteleuton (“punished *. . . punished*).

Unlike the other examples adduced above, here we have to do with a tradition that has essentially “changed hands,” and there are several possible ways to account for this: (1) a penal code found in one writing has been transferred and reabsorbed with adaptations into the context of another; (2) if not directly, the transfer may have happened through a literary intermediary; or (3) both forms of the tradition, given the material unique to each, may derive from a common source that is not extant.

The examples noted above—taken as they from Thanksgiving Hymns, War Scroll, Damascus Document, and Community Rule—illustrate processes of transmission and editing that have become an important part of specialist discussion of literary relationships amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls during the years since the relevant manuscripts have been published. The literary relationships among closely aligned texts of a document, whether it be variants on a smaller scale or differences that reflect a fluidity with which documents could be transmitted, include the location of discrete units and the reuse of some traditions en route to the formation of new or different compositions. The notion of oral tradition accounting for the differences manifest in variants or even the recensions has thus far played a negligible role in analyses of these texts, and no doubt will receive more attention in future studies. However, even if one cannot be certain about exactly how the complex relationships between the overlapping yet differing texts should be explained or perceived, the kind of evidence reviewed here places us in a position to revive some old, well-worn questions about processes of literary transmission and editing. This, in turn, may help us to mollify some hardened positions that many New Testament scholars have brought to bear upon their assessment of the growth of gospel traditions.

Before offering several points regarding the significance of an analysis of parallels and differences among the Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts, we consider briefly consider one aspect of the current debate around traditioning processes underlying the gospels. In this respect it is useful to quote the following comment by James D. G. Dunn in his monograph, Jesus Remembered (2003).45 In discouraging the notion of positing an “Ur-Markus” or of different editions of Mark as a way to explain some “minor differences” between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (as adopted by Helmut Koester and others), Dunn argues as follows:

Certainly, as textual criticism has made us all too aware, any act of copying will have introduced variants, both deliberate and unintended. No one doubts that documents were absorbed and redacted by others, or, for example, that the ending of Mark (16.9–20) was later added by scribes. But what seems to be in view, on Koester’s reconstruction at any rate, includes more extensive recensions of the same work. This raises the question whether the processes at this point are being conceived too much in terms of the modern literary pattern of several editions of a book. Should we not rather be attempting to adjust our thinking away from the literary mindset of the modern world and to re-envisage the situation in terms of oral tradition? The point then being that much of the traditioning process would include oral variations of the traditions used by Mark, as also oral memories of those who heard readings from Mark’s version of the Jesus tradition. More attention needs to be given to the possibility that the Evangelists were able to select the version of tradition they used from more than one version, written or oral.46

One can affirm with Dunn the aspiration to reorient our thinking of how the New Testament gospels came to be through traditioning processes in antiquity. However, it is questionable whether the citation actually orients us to antiquity when it poses, not only in relation to the character of tradition underlying Matthew and Luke, but also the growth of the Synoptic Gospels as they stand in terms of alternative models: modern literary editions of books, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a flexible oral transmission in order to explain many differences among overlapping traditions. The alternatives, however plausible they may seem at first glance, are overly schematic if we keep literary transmission among the Dead Sea documents in view, even if allowances are made for the influence of oral debate or discussion within scribal communities.

A number of overlapping traditions in the gospels and the book of Acts illustrate a considerable amount of flexibility in the traditioning process. The list below reflects what Dunn has adduced as evidence for oral instead of literary transmission47:

  • the threefold account of Saul’s conversation in Acts 9:3–6, 22:6–10 and 26:12–16;

  • the healing of the centurion’s servant in Matt 8:5–13 and Luke 7:1–10;

  • the stilling of the storm in Mark 4:35–41 and parallels (Matt 8:23–27, Luke 8:22–25);

  • the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24–30 and Matt 15:21–28;

  • the healing of the possessed boy in Mark 9:14–27 and parallels (Matt 17:14–18, Luke 9:37–43);

  • the disciples’ dispute about greatness in Mark 9:33–37 and parallels (Matt 18:1–5, Luke 9:46–48);

  • the widow’s small donation in Mark 12:41–44 and Luke 21:1–4;

  • the Lord’s Prayer in Matt 6:7–15 and Luke 11:1–4;

  • the Last Supper narrative in Mark 14:22–25 and Matt 26:26–29, on the one hand, and in Luke 22:17–20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23–26, on the other;

  • a number of sayings shared by Matt and Luke (Matt 5:13 // Luke 14:34–35; Matt 5:25–26 // Luke 12:57–59; Matt 5:39b–42 // Luke 6:29–30; Matt 6:19–21 // Luke 12:33–34; Matt 7:13–14 // Luke 13:24; Matt 7:21, 24–27 // Luke 6:46–49); and

  • further material shared by Matt and Luke (Matt 10:34–38 // Luke 12:51–53, 14:26–27; Matt 18:15, 21–22 // Luke 17:3–4; Matt 22:1–14 // Luke 14:15–24).

The passages listed here, including their parallels, each need to be analysed in relation to analogous similarities and differences in the shared literary traditions among the Dead Sea materials. This, in turn, serves either to enhance or to detract from the possibility that such differences can be accounted through oral tradition. The alternatives posed by Dunn, namely either literary dependence between the texts as we have them or, if not that, the oral passing on of tradition, may not do justice in taking into account the sorts of processes we can observe to have been at work among the scrolls manuscripts. Given the high degree of flexibility noted among comparable traditions among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the assumption that differences and changes are best explicable on the basis of oral transmission may be questioned.

5 Concluding Reflections

In the Dead Sea Scrolls we can follow complex snapshots of literary transmission at work. Whether or not affected by oral tradition at any point, texts drawing on yet departing from a putative Vorlage reflect the adaptation of traditional material to both an evolving or even new socio-religious context and, with it, new literary environments in which they are reshaped. The extent to which the reshaping of tradition occurs through oral performance or debate has yet to be properly assessed. Nevertheless, we are, through an analogical look at the scrolls, in a better position to imagine that the path from Mark or from a partly written tradition such as the putative “Q” to Matthew or Luke was not necessarily a simple matter of moving or jumping from point “A” to a point “B.” Between the gospel traditions that come to us in the New Testament there may well have been a number of intervening literary stages, and it is the overlapping Dead Sea materials which, roughly contemporary to one another, help us to posit the existence of such stages with some confidence. Again, without denying the possible role of oral transmission, we can observe processes in which written tradition has been initially edited or redacted, is rewritten to produce a new recension, and can be reorganized in a way that loses some material and gains additional material based on further sources and community need.

Merely the recognition of such a process as plausible raises fundamental questions. In referring to different manuscripts of a document that goes by a particular name (e.g., Thanksgiving Hymns or War Scroll), our observation that there are not only different recensions but also reorganizations of at least some material may lead to the following question: how long during a traditioning process that involves such changes does a document remain identifiable as that document? To put it another way, at what point in the traditioning process does one document, in morphing from its previous textual form and organizational arrangement, become a literary entity that can no longer, in effect, pass as being that same document? When does a composition “A,” when reworked, become composition “B”? Could a work like the Gospel of Mark have undergone a series of revisions and editing within a relatively tight-knit social setting, and then eventually evolve irretrievably into a form, shaped by new settings and the intervention of new hands, that reached a point of no return and could no longer be recognized as Mark, so that at such a stage a serious rewriting, reorganization and revision could be taken up, resulting in the formation of something like what we have in the Gospels of Matthew or Luke? To be sure, there is no manuscript evidence for such a stage-by-stage reworking of Mark. However, and although one might regard such rewriting and reorganization as a lengthy process, the manuscript traditions amongst the scrolls remind us that, within a relatively short period of time, documents could undergo immense change, even in different contemporary recensions (so, especially if 4QS manuscripts which in many places preserve arguably earlier stages of the Serek are paleographically later than 1QS which, if we follow the main argument of Metso, may preserve a more advanced form of the work). A final point: the manuscripts for recensions and different texts amongst the scrolls witness to a flourishing scribal culture in which differences, sometimes significant, could emerge. It is possible, if not likely, that instead of a few individuals or monolithically profile-able communities being responsible for the New Testament gospels, we may—analogous to the scrolls—have to do with a scribal culture well developed enough to sustain vast amounts of revision at many stages that could lead to the both obvious and profound differences that characterize the gospels.

As emphasized at the beginning of this article, we are asking old questions raised during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that is, during early stages of source-critical research and inquiry into the gospel tradition. While solutions to the “Synoptic problem” have led in several directions, with perhaps now a smaller majority still holding to some form of the two- or four-source hypothesis, evidence from the scrolls provides us with reason not to imagine processes behind the growth of tradition between literary works too simplistically. By contrast, while orality may account for some differences between textually overlapping materials and while this aspect of gospel studies may inform the inter-relation of overlapping traditions among Dead Sea Scrolls, even literary transmission comes off as a more flexible process than some New Testament scholars have been prepared to imagine.

1 Such valuable attempts have been numerous. See more nuanced approaches in, e.g., George J. Brooke, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005); Jörg Frey, “The Impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on New Testament Interpretation: Proposals, Problems, and Further Perspectives,” in The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls: The Princeton Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. James H. Charlesworth, 3 vols. (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006), 1:407–61; the series of essays in Florentino García Martínez, ed., Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2009); Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament,” in Qumran and the Bible: Studying the Jewish and Christian Scriptures in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Nóra Dávid and Armin Lange (Leuven: Peeters, 2010), 131–71; and essays in Jörg Frey and Enno Edzard Popkes, eds., Jesus, Paulus und die Texte von Qumran (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015).

2 Among the many accounts of the history of scholarship, see Werner Georg Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, trans. Howard Clark Kee, 17th rev. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1975), 44–52 (§ 5.2).

3 This article uses the terms “composition,” “work,” and “document” interchangeably. These terms are strictly applied here to distinguishable literary entities, without implying anything, in the first instance, about whether they reflect the activity of one or more authors, scribes, or communities. My approach to the relation between this vocabulary and further classifications such as a textual “variant” and “recension” is delineated in section C below.

4 For a convenient summary, see Christopher M. Tuckett, “Synoptic Problem”, in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, 6 vols. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1992), 6:263–70.

5 Each of these comparisons is provided in the standard synopsis edited by Kurt Aland, Synopsis quattuor evangeliorum: locis parallelis evangeliorum adhibitis (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2005).

6 The literary solutions enumerated have been adopted, apart from the question of whether or not the written sources underlying the Synoptic Gospels in their current form were Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew.

7 This approach was adopted by Augustine and became the predominant view during the Middle Ages. It was revitalized by J. J. Griesbach (1745–1812) and still has representatives today, e.g., William R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem: a critical analysis (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1976); cf. further Bernard Orchard and Thomas R. W. Longstaff, eds., J. J. Griesbach: Synoptic and Text-Critical Studies 1776–1976 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).

8 This view is adopted by the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research; see, e.g., the studies in R. Steven Notley, Marc Turnage, and Brian Becker, eds., Jesus’ Last Week (Leiden: Brill, 2006), and, even more recently, supported by James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009).

9 This view became dominant in the German-speaking scholarship through the work of Heinrich Julius Holtzmann (1832–1910), Die Synoptischen Evangelien (Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann, 1863), while its status in the English-speaking world was formidably strengthened by the work of Burnett Hillman Streeter (1874–1937), The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins, rev. ed. (London: Macmillan, 1930). For a summary of the argument, see Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, 52–80 (§ 5.3). Those recently defending “Q” as a literary source have included Christopher M. Tuckett, Q and the history of Early Christianity: Studies on Q (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996); John S. Kloppenborg, e.g., in Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000) and Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Earliest Stories and Sayings of Jesus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008); Christoph Heil, Das Spruchevangelium Q und der historische Jesus (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2014); and the studies edited by Markus Tiwald in Q in Context, 2 vols. (Göttingen: V&R unipress/Bonn: Bonn University Press, 2014 and 2015). This approach has resulted in the production of an edition of this putative source; so James M. Robinson, Paul Hoffmann, and John S. Kloppenborg, eds., The Critical Edition of Q: Synopsis including the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark and Thomas with English, German, and French Translations of Q and Thomas (Minneapolis: Fortress Press/Leuven: Peeters, 2000), with a more concise presentation in Paul Hoffmann and Christoph Heil, eds., Die Spruchquelle Q: Studienausgabe Griechisch und Deutsch, 4th ed. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft/Leuven: Peeters, 2013).

10 Especially since the work of Streeter, The Four Gospels, 230–70.

11 For a review of such attempts, see, e.g., Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “‘Semitic Influence on Greek’: An Authenticating Criterion in Jesus Research?,” in Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity, ed. Chris Keith and Anthony LeDonne (London: T&T Clark, 2012), 73–94.

12 Among recent scholars, see esp. Kenneth E. Bailey, Poet and Peasant, and Through Middle Eastern Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke, combined ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) and Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Academic Press, 2008); James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003); and Terence C. Mournet, Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).

13 After comparing some 20 “wisdom speeches” among materials studied by Kloppenborg, James D. G. Dunn, in “QI as oral tradition,” in The Written Gospel, ed. Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 45–69, concludes that they reflect “the flexibility of oral performance, of teachers drawing upon resources of Jesus tradition, much at least of it shared with other churches and teachers, and reteaching it with variant details and emphases which reflect their own idiosyncrasies, the vagaries of live performance and the needs of particular congregations” (69).

14 On this distinction, which underlies the work of Dunn, see Werner Kelber, The Oral and Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983). Kelber is critical of approaches that emphasize the comparability of transmission processes at work in oral and written tradition, as argued especially by Birger Gerhardsson, e.g., The Origins of the Gospel Traditions (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), whose arguments were picked up by Rainer Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer, 3rd ed. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1988) and Samuel Byrskog, Jesus the Only Teacher: Didactic Authority and Transmission in Ancient Israel, Ancient Judaism, and the Matthean Community (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1994). For a broad range of perspectives dealing with processes of oral and written tradition in the New Testament and its Hellenistic and Jewish environment, see the contributions in Jesus in Memory: Traditions in Oral and Scribal Perspectives, ed. Werner Kelber and Samuel Byrskog (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009).

15 Analysis of the last aspect is closely related to the examination of differences to ascertain distinguishing features of user communities.

16 Though a single “original” is elusive and for all ancient writings lies practically out of reach, the notion of change through scribal transmission is indisputable. If the purpose of analysing variants is to reconstruct an underlying written tradition with precision, the predominant assumption is that the literary growth of traditions is in effect linear (rather than parallel) and, therefore, that differences among texts belonging to the same work are to be explained in terms of derivation and aberration. For a breakdown of “readings” or “variants” into various types and a brief overview of the emergence of the text-critical discipline, see Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), esp. 1–19. For a critical account of this approach and a thorough overview of the development of text-criticism in the classical world and biblical scholarship, see, e.g., John Van Seters, The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 298–350.

17 For a breakdown of many of these categories, see David C. Parker, An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), esp. 133–58 and 339–40 (in relation to the particular problem presented by “harmonizations” in manuscripts of the Synoptic Gospels).

18 In the case of a version that at some stage or at different stages has been the product of translation, the category of “recension” as coherent literary activity or the result thereof is problematic, since a text can secondarily be brought into line with a previously existing Vorlage; cf. Van Seters, The Edited Bible, 340–44.

19 In addition, of course, the study of different recensions can contribute to the text-critical search for a more original text. Thus, for example, comments on different recensions of a work such as Tobit have not infrequently included notes on which of the text traditions best explains the emergence of the other; cf. notes on the so-called “long” and “short” recensions of both the Greek and Latin versions throughout the commentaries by Carey A. Moore, Tobit: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1996) and Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Tobit (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003).

20 See the different ways of construing the relation between the Deuteronomic history in Sam-Kgs and 1–2 Chr by Graeme Auld, Kings without Privilege: David and Moses in the Story of the Bible’s Kings (Edinburgh: T&T Clark International, 1994): they are competing histories that derive from a common source, a “Shared Text”; Raymond F. Person, The Deuteronomic History and the Book of Chronicles: Scribal Works in an Oral World (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2010): the Deuteronomic history behind Sam-Kgs served as a Vorlage to both Sam-Kgs and 1–2 Chr); and Zipora Talshir, “Solomon’s Reign in the Making: Pseudo-Connections between 3 Kingdoms and Chronicles,” vt 50 (2000): 233–49, and Thomas Willi, Die Chronik als Auslegung: Untersuchungen zur literarischen Gestaltung der historischen Überlieferung Israels (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972): the differences do not reflect discrete audiences, as material unique to one sometimes belie an audience’s knowledge of material found in the other text.

21 Cf. the thoroughgoing study of the latter (which has also been titled Testament of Moses and Apocalypse of Moses) and its relationship to Life of Adam and Eve by Jan Dochhorn, Die Apokalypse des Mose: Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).

22 An attempt to consider the Synoptic problem with parallel writings of the Hebrew Bible and the classical world in mind is offered by Gary A. Knoppers in “The Synoptic Problem? An Old Testament Perspective,” bbr 19 (2009): 11–34. Knoppers’ analysis, however, appeals to the general category of mimesis to explain differences and offers little discussion of the sorts of changes that can be observed.

23 As emphasized by Dunn, Jesus Remembered, throughout 192–238.

24 So the fundamental insight developed in the form-critical studies of Rudolf Bultmann, Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, with a Forward by Gerd Theissen, 2nd ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1931, repr. 1995) and Martin Dibelius, Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums. Mit einem Nachtrag von Gerhard Iber, ed. Günther Bornkamm, 3rd ed. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1959, repr. 1966). This is not to deny the possibility of oral transmission playing an important role in the production of the gospels, but rather to stress that the process of literary editing and reworking of tradition could show the same degree of flexibility.

25 For further investigation, the significance of differences and varying factors would yet need to be assessed, among them: (a) the difference in languages involved (Greek in the Synoptics, and Hebrew and Aramaic among the Scrolls); (b) the difference in comparing largely unvocalized Hebrew or Aramaic text-traditions with those in Greek; (c) different ways in which oral transmission lay behind or has impacted a traditioning process; and (d) the materiality of manuscripts preserved from the Dead Sea, on the one hand, and, with the first century in view, the already text-critically derived eclectic text of the Synoptic Gospels. The focus on the New Testament gospels in their development is therefore distinguishable from the main focus of Francis Watson’s insightful study, Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013).

26 Unanswered in many cases, for example, is whether shifts of tradition, once identified in the manuscripts, have occurred through literary copying and editing or have come about through the vicissitudes of oral transmission.

27 Such changes involve the (a) addition, (b) omission, or (c) substitution of smaller words or phrases. Though one is able to analyze these text-critically in order to determine a more original text, they illustrate how much textual variation and the early stages of transforming a text can be construed as overlapping processes.

28 Here one may think of (a) the development of documents into distinguishable recensions in which differences reflect identifiable tendencies, (b) the rearrangement of discrete blocks of text, and (c) rewriting that begins to produce a new literary product.

29 Sarianna Metso, initially in The Textual Development of the Qumran Community Rule (Leiden: Brill, 1997), then in The Serekh Texts (London: T&T Clark, 2007); see also the collection of essays edited by Sarianna Metso, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Transmission of Traditions and Production of Texts (Leiden: Brill, 2010). In addition, see several important discussions of the evidence by Charlotte Hempel in her more recent collection of essays, The Qumran Rule Texts in Context (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), esp. “Shifting Paradigms Concerning the Literary Development of the Serekh” (109–19), “cd 19–20 and the Community Rule” (123–36), “Rewritten Rule Texts” (137–50), and “The Serekh Tradition in Light of Post-Qumran Perspectives on the Emerging Bible” (271–84, esp. 272–78); and Alison Schofield, From Qumran to the Yaḥad: A New Paradigm of Textual Development for The Community Rule (Leiden: Brill, 2009), 69–130.

30 On this section’s status as an addition to a shorter Vorlage (rather than as an omission leading to the text in 4Q259, see Metso, Textual Development, 72, and Schofield, From Qumran to the Yaḥad, 108. Though the precise relationship between the 1QS and 4QS recensions is no doubt more complicated, it is possible that 1QS 8:15b–9:11 may have been a unit that, after circulating independently as a tradition with verbal similarities to cd 20:1b–8a (e.g., the exclusive references to entry into the community by “the men of (perfect) holiness” and regulations about the exclusion of property of transgressors), was incorporated into Serek at this point and that, in a condensed form, it was incorporated into the text underlying cd 19–20; cf. Hempel, “cd 19–20 and the Community Rule,” 129–136.

31 In terms of the differences amongst the 1QS and 4QS manuscripts, see especially the stemma of relationships proposed by Metso, Textual Development, 147; for a summary of the differences, see Hempel, “The Serekh Tradition in Light of Post-Qumran Perspectives on the Emerging Bible,” 273–77, and Schofield, From Qumran to the Yaḥad, 87–118.

32 1QS 5:1 (“according to his will”), 3 (“and judgment, to achieve together truth and”), 5–6 (“eternal covenant. They should make atonement”), 8 (“enters the covenant of God in the presence of all who freely volunteer”), 8 (“according to all that he [Moses/God] commanded”), 22 (“to his covenant”), 24 (“the perfection of his path”), 25 (“in meekness”, “for one’s fellow-man”).

33 1QS 5:2b–3a (“sons of Zadok . . . decision by lot will be made”), 4–5 (“following his heart . . . stiff neck”), 6–7 (“lawsuit and judgment . . . enrolled in the Community”), 9–10 (“who keep the covenant . . . he should swear by the covenant”), 10–13 (“who walk . . . without there being any remnant”), 13–15 (“for one is not cleansed . . . it is written as follows: ‘You shall remain at a distance from every lie.’” [Exod 23:7]), 16–18 (“hands . . . [quote from Isa 2:22] . . . all that belongs to them”), 5:26–6:1 (“or with a hard [neck . . .] . . . a sin because of him”).

34 Cf. 1QS 5:9 // 4Q256 9:7–8; 1QS 5:13 // 4Q256 9:8; 1QS 5:16 // 4Q256 9:10; 1QS 5:19 // 4Q256 9:12.

35 4Q256 9:9 and 4Q258 1:8 (“and he shall not eat it in the Community”); 4Q256 9:10–11 and 4Q258 1:9 (“and no-one of the holy men is to eat”); 4Q258 2:3 (“in the law” . . . “in the law”) // 4Q261 1a-b 5. The significance of these instances is especially recognized by Schofield, From Qumran to the Yaḥad, 104–05.

36 The analogy between the focus on specific groups in 1QS and Matt is, admittedly, misleading, and no attempt is made here to claim or even imply any sort of influence from the one to the other. The similarity simply draws attention to a common example of how one version of a document reworked another.

37 The significance here is the analogy that, like 1QS and 4QS, additional material can be found in both texts being compared (i.e. not only in Matt and Luke—as in (a) and (c) above—but also in Mark).

38 The following summarizes the results of Schuller’s analysis in Hartmut Stegemann and Eileen Schuller, djd 40:86–87, 178–79, 202–3, 300–1.

39 On these hymns, see Hartmut Stegemann, “The Number of Psalms in 1QHodayota and Some of Their Sections,” in Liturgical Perspectives: Prayer and Poetry in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 19–23 January, 2000, ed. E. G. Chazon, with R. A. Clements and A. Pinnick (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 191–234, who identifies 14 such hymns. Gert Jeremias, Der Lehrer der Gerechtigkeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), 168–77, distinguished between the Teacher and non-Teacher (or Community) psalms, focusing in relation to the former on 1QHa 10:1–19; 12:5–19; 13:20–14:36; 15:6–25 and 16:4–40.

40 Esther Eshel, “4Q471b: A Self-Glorification Hymn,” RevQ 17 (1996): 175–203.

41 Maurice Baillet, djd 7:26–29.

42 For a possible further instance of this between two documents, see n. 28 above. In addition, the numerous instances of shared tradition between 1QS, on the one hand, and non-Serek texts amongst the scrolls, on the other hand, does not necessarily in each case indicate the influence of the former on the latter; for a table of these shared traditions, see Schofield, From Qumran to the Yaḥad, 179.

43 On the manuscripts, see Baillet, djd 7:12–72, and Jean Duhaime, “War Scroll” (1QM; 1Q33; 4Q491–496 = 4QM1–6; 4Q497), in Damascus Document, War Scroll and Related Documents, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Vol. 2 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press/Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995), 80–203 (esp. 80–83).

44 See, more fully, the shared material in 1QS 7, on the one hand, and in 4Q266 10 ii–11//4Q267 9 vi//4Q269 11 i–ii//4Q270 7 i, on the other. See the discussions on the relationship of these texts in Charlotte Hempel, “The Penal Code Reconsidered”, in Legal Texts & Legal Issues: Proceedings for the Second Meeting for the International Organization of Qumran Studies, Published in Honour of Joseph M. Baumgarten, ed. M. Bernstein, F. García Martínez and J. Kampen (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 1997), 337–48, and The Laws of the Damascus Document: Sources, Tradition, and Redaction (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 144–48; Sarianna Metso, “The Relationship between the Damascus Document and the Community Rule,” in The Damascus Document: A Centennial of Discovery: Proceedings of the Third International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature 4–8 February, 1998, ed. Joseph M. Baumgarten, Esther G. Chazon, and Avital Pinnick (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 85–93.

45 Cf. the bibliography in n. 12 above.

46 Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 146.

47 These passages are discussed by Dunn in Jesus Remembered, passim. See further Dunn, “QI as oral tradition.”

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