The Quality of Hasmonaean Biblical Manuscripts

Mladen Popovic, Eibert Tigchelaar

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Recent research has introduced the categories of deluxe or high-quality Dead Sea Scrolls. We reconsider this category and propose a classification of manuscripts on the basis of handwriting quality. As a test case, we classify all Hasmonaean-type biblical manuscripts as elegant, professional, or substandard. We discuss eleven scrolls with elegant handwriting and consider other physical, scribal, and textual features of these scrolls. Our study calls into question the idea that especially biblical manuscripts would have been copied according to the highest standards. We show that different quality standards were in operation for Hasmonaean-type biblical manuscripts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189–212
Number of pages24
JournalDead Sea Discoveries
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • biblical manuscripts
  • calligraphy
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • deluxe manuscripts
  • elegant writing
  • Hasmonaean script
  • quality scrolls

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