Qumran as Scroll Storehouse in Times of Crisis? A Comparative Perspective on Judaean Desert Manuscript Collections

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article takes a material and comparative approach to the Qumran collection. Distinctive features set the Qumran manuscripts apart from other Judaean Desert collections, suggesting a scholarly, school-like collection of predominantly literary texts. The few literary texts from other Judaean Desert sites reflect the valuable copies owned by wealthy individuals or families and are illustrative of the spread of these texts within various strata of ancient Jewish society. The historical context of most manuscript depositions in the Judaean Desert is characterized by violence and conflict, and such a context probably also typified the deposition of the Qumran manuscripts. In contrast to at least some of the other Judaean Desert sites where refugees hid with their manuscripts, the deposition evidence at Qumran may suggest an anticipation of such violence. The movement behind the Dead Sea Scrolls can be characterized as a textual community, reflecting a milieu of Jewish intellectuals who were engaged on various levels with their ancestral traditions. The collection of texts attracted people and shaped their thinking, while at the same time people shaped the collection, producing and gathering more texts. In this sense, the site of Qumran and its surrounding caves functioned like a storehouse for scrolls.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)551-594
    Number of pages44
    JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
    Volume43
    Issue number4-5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Keywords

    • Judaean Desert manuscripts
    • Graeco-Roman libraries and book collections
    • literacy
    • Philodemus
    • Galen
    • textual community

    Cite this