The Qumran Opisthographic Papyri as a Scribal Cluster of Manuscripts

Ayhan Aksu*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This essay will explore to which the degree the opisthographic papyri from Qumran can be seen as a scribal cluster, which I understand to be a group of manuscripts that were produced and/or circulated within the same scribal context. This contribution will present a case study by focusing on the papyrus opisthographs 4Q433a/4Q255, 4Q499/4Q497, 4Q503/4Q512, and 4Q509/4Q496/4Q506. These manuscripts will be considered by combining material and textual approaches. Analysis from the perspective of palaeography and codicology will establish if these scrolls share significant material features, such as writing style, columnisation, and scribal markings. Textual analysis will assess the intertextual relations between these compositions and explore whether they share common themes and vocabulary. This case study aims to increase our understanding of how the scribes behind the Dead Sea Scrolls engaged with their texts, and explores different scholarly approaches to reconstruct ancient groupings of texts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-261
Number of pages27
JournalDead Sea Discoveries
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2023


  • collection
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • liturgy
  • manuscript cluster
  • opisthograph
  • papyri
  • reading culture
  • scribal practices

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