The Emerging Hebrew Scriptures and the Qumran Scribal Milieu
A particularly fruitful area of investigation is the light the Dead Sea Scrolls can shed on the processes of ancient Jewish literary activity.
Qumran provides us with more than 900 ancient manuscripts from a time when both the text of the Hebrew Bible and the canon were still fluid. Critical biblical scholarship has worked for centuries in the knowledge that the Hebrew Bible evolved in complex ways. The evidence of the Scrolls is invaluable in shedding light on the kinds of processes we have long suspected of having left mark on the Hebrew Bible. Texts that were to become Scripture and other ancient Jewish writings revealed in the eleven Qumran caves offer a unique opportunity to study an ancient scribal milieu with unprecedented access to ancient manuscripts. The overall impression in studying these ancient manuscripts if one of fluidity and literary creativity in the transmission of texts and traditions. The circles responsible for the emerging Hebrew Scriptures and those behind the Qumran collection were equally learned and creative in their approach to texts producing several literary editions, anthologies of related material gathered together with clearly defined headings, douplets found in different compositions and so forth. Now is an extremely fitting time to explore the ways in which the rich evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls can shed light on the processes of ancient Jewish literary productivity.
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