When Ben Zion Wacholder and Martin Abegg published the first volume of previously unpublished Qumran texts that they had reconstructed on the basis of a concordance to chose texts, the New York Times (September 5, 1991, p. A1) used the word “bootleg” to describe their work. The Times went on to characterize their edition as “an end run around the scholarly blockade.” The same day, the Washington Post (p. A1) referred to Wacholder and Abegg as “renegades” and quoted Wacholder as saying, “Now I am an old man… It is a painful thing to have so close something so rare. But I realized that if I waited, I would long be dead.”
Wacholder, a professor at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and Abegg, his graduate student, based their work on the preliminary concordance of unpublished nonbiblical texts from Cave 4 that Raymond E. Brown, William G. Oxtoby and I had composed on cards in the “Scrollery” of the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem between 1957 and 1960. Those cards were then photographed in the 1980s and made available to editors of the Cave 4 texts; a copy was deposited at Hebrew Union College (along with a few other institutions) for safekeeping, and Wacholder and Abegg—with the aid of a computer—proceeded to reconstruct texts from it.
When we prepared the concordance to nonbiblical texts, we wrote the key word—the form in which it actually appears in the document—in the center of a card, together with two or three words preceding and following it. The keyword was underlined. The word’s root (its dictionary form) was entered in the upper lefthand corner of the card. In the upper righthand corner were the name of the text and the numbers of its fragment, column and line.
Once the cards of a given text were complete, one for each word or prefixed preposition or conjunction, they were numbered consecutively in the lower lefthand corner before being alphabetized. This was done so that the cards could eventually be reconstituted in the sequence of the text itself in order to be checked against the final form of the text as it was published. The cards were then alphabetized according to their roots and kept in two files, one Hebrew, the other Aramaic. The concordance on these cards was tentative, being based on transcriptions of the texts as supplied by editors of the Cave 4 scroll team to Brown, Oxtoby and myself. The plan was that, once the texts were published, we would use the cards to publish a definitive concordance of the nonbiblical texts of Qumran Cave 4.
Wacholder and Abegg have made use of this concordance in its tentative state to reconstruct texts of documents still officially unpublished. They had only to take a word that preceded or followed the underlined keyword and look it up in the concordance to discover still other words in a given line that preceded or followed it. Wacholder and Abegg made use of a computer to reconstruct the texts, but the numbers in the lower lefthand corners would have sufficed to discover the proper order of words. A German scholar, Hartmut Stegemann, has checked the reconstructed texts of 4QD (in the first volume) against photos that he has of these documents and has admitted to the editor of BAR that the reconstructed texts are in general reliable, even though small fragments of manuscript B have not been included and sometimes there are small differences from what J. T. Milik, to whom 4QD texts were entrusted, had recorded some 30 years ago.a
The fascicle now under review is the second volume in this series. The first, A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew and Aramaic Texts from Cave Four, Fascicle One, appeared in 1991. It contained either fragmentary copies of the Damascus Document (4QDa-h), eight fragmentary copies of Mismerôt hakkôhanîm or the Priestly Courses (4QMisma-h), and fragmentary copy five of Serek Hayyah
ad (4QSe) or the Manual of Discipline, the main rulebook of the Qumran community. These were all texts that originally were entrusted to Milik for publication; for over 30 years he has had these texts but has not yet published them. Recently they have been given by him and the Israeli Scrolls Oversight Committee to others for publication: 4QDa-h to Joseph M. Baumgarten of Baltimore Hebrew University, 4QSa-j (ten copies of the Manual of Discipline) to Geza Vermes of Oxford and 4QMisma-h to Shemaryahu Talmon of Jerusalem.
In Fascicle Two, Wacholder and Abegg present the reconstructed texts of 19 sapiential (Wisdom) and 25 sectarian texts. Among the former are 4QMysteriesa-c (4Q299-301); God, Creator of Light and Darkness (4Q392); 14 documents called merely a Sapiential Work (4Q410, 4Q412-13, 4Q415-21, 4Q423-26); and 4QBeatitudes (4Q525). Part of the last named has recently been published in full by Emile Puech.b Among the sectarian texts are those labelled Pseudo-Jubileesa-c (4Q225-27); Pesher Genesisa-c (4Q252-254); Serek HaMil
amah (4Q285); Praise of God and Parable of the Tree (4Q302); Meditation on Creation 1a (4Q303); Apocryphon a (4Q369); Flood Apocryphon (4Q370); Prayers (4Q408); Sapiential Work (4Q411); Traditions on Genesis (4Q422); Hodayota-f (4Q427-432); Poetic Fragment (4Q448); Narrative (4Q458); Zedekiah (4Q470); War Text (4Q471); and Sapiential Work (4Q476).
In this fascicle, then, we have now sapiential texts of a sort not known before. But because the texts are proverbial or aphoristic, the editors have not been able to reconstruct such texts fully. However, a number of the texts exist in several copies (for example, 4Q416-18), and one copy supplies readings to fill in the gaps of another. The editors have underlined words or letters that are paralleled in another text in this fascicle, and they wisely stress that the work on such texts is “truly preliminary.” It will take a long time before they are fully understood. But now that they are available to everyone, scholars of different backgrounds will be able to contribute their efforts to the interpretation and understanding of them.
The editors characterize some of the sapiential texts as “The Mystery of Being,” a loose translation of
, which they recognize means literally “the mystery of what shall be.” That title will be debated, but the editors think that it refers to a work (or works) that either have already perished or is a sectarian title for other texts found in this fascicle. Another text they call “The Vision of the Haguy or Hagoy,” believing that the title refers to what other Qumran texts call seµpher hahogiÆ, “Book of Meditation” (CD 10:6; CD 13:2; 1QSa 1:7). They also think that one of the sapiential texts now available here (4Q417 2 i 15–18) identifies seµpher hahogiÆ, not as the Hebrew Scriptures, or community rules or the work of some sage (hgy being his name), as has often been held by different interpreters, but as seµpher zikkaµroÆn, “Book of Memory,” inscribed by God for Seth, who bequeathed it to Enosh, who passed it on. This is an interesting proposal that needs, however, much further study; it is far from certain.
Fascicle Two ends with two important appendices: (A) Concordance of 1QHodayot Passages Extant in the Cave Four manuscripts and (B) Photographs Cited in Fascicle Two. Appendix A will enable the student of the Hodayot (Thanksgiving Psalms), already known from Cave 1, to compare passages of those texts with similar passages now 063available in this publication of the Cave 4 fragments. Appendix B lists the Palestine Archaeological Museum (now the Rockefeller Museum) numbers of the photographs of the texts, along with their numbers in A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.c This appendix will enable the student who uses these volumes to check the readings reconstructed from the preliminary concordance against the photographs now available in the facsimile edition. The editorial foreword reveals that Wacholder and Abegg themselves have checked the texts reconstructed in this fascicle against available photographs, and in some cases record improved readings.
It is not clear why Wacholder and Abegg have divided the material as they have, booking certain 4Q texts under the heading “Wisdom” but listing under “Sectarian Scriptures” two texts that they label “Sapiential Work” (4Q411 and 4Q476), or why the “War Text” (4Q471) is unrelated to “Serek HaMil
amah” (4Q285), the latter being the war text on which Geza Vermes has written in “The Oxford Forum for Qumran Research: Seminar on the Rule of War from Cave 4 (4Q285).”d The introduction shows that Wacholder and Abegg have preserved the titles for texts assigned years ago by the members of the international team of editors, but their attempts to coordinate further texts to such titles and grouping of texts do not seem to have succeeded.
One also has to question the vocalization of certain terms in the introduction. “Raz Niheyeh” should rather be r
z nihyeÆh, and “Haguy or Hagoy,” should be hahogi (hgwy is not read with certainty). Moreover, it is a mystery why the editors devise their own method of abbreviating references, when the international convention is already well established. Why should one prefer 4Q417 f2i:15–18 to the normal mode, 4Q417 2 i 15–18 (for texts with multiple fragments of columns)? See Discoveries in the Judaean Desert1 or my The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications and Tools for Study: Revised Edition,2 where the conventional system is explained in detail.
A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew and Aramaic Texts from Cave Four; Fascicle Two
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