Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 17 (1958-1959)

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e w i s h
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/Scrolls often differ in wording and spelling, not only with our
/ Masoretic text, but even with each other when more than one
I copy of the same text is found at Qumran. For example, the
Book of Isaiah, because of its Messianic theme, ranked high in
popularity among the Sacred BooksT When we compare two
Qumran versions of Isaiah, we find them differing fairly often
with eacIToTIier. The~^ariants in the Qumran Scrolls (versus
the MasoretTcTText) often agree with other known Hebrew
manuscripts (including the Samaritan Pentateuch), with Biblical
quotations in Rabbinic literature and in the Church Fathers,
and with ancient translations (notably the Greek Old Testament
called the Septuagint). This means that the uniformity in our
/ traditional manuscripts and printed editions of our Hebrew
I Bible had been imposed on an earlier state of great diversity.
V The catastrophe of 70 C.E., when the Second Temple was
destroyed, forced the Jews to realize that more authority and
control were necessary if the far-flung community was to hold
together and survive. The superposition of a uniform authorized
text on a fluid tradition is indeed the norm for the great classics,
including the Iliad and Aeneid, to say nothing of other sacred
writings. If we stop to reflect, this will seem only natural. Great
classics, including sacred writings, usually have to win their way
to general acceptance. Until they do, there is enough laxity
among the scribes and reciters to account for much variation.
But once the text is generally accepted and revered, it must
be reduced to uniformity. The recognition that this process
holds true for the Bible is one of the chief contributions of the
QumraiT Scrolls^
Many books other than those in the Hebrew Bible were con-
I sidered sacred at Qumran. The Apocryphal books of Ecclesiasti-
cus (in Hebrew) and Tobit (in one Hebrew and two Aramaic
I copies) have been found there. A great number of Pseudepi-
graphical books, including Enoch and Tubilees. were also in
circulation there. Enoch and Jubilee include propaganda for a
calendar differing from the traditional Jewish calendar. The
discrepancy meant that the sectarian and normative Jews cele-
[ brated the same holidays at different times, so that the two
\ groups could only regard each other as spurious.
The omission of the Apocryphal books of the Maccabees from
the Qumran Scrolls is significant. Since the Maccatees established
themselves as the priestly rulers, though they were not of the
House of Zadok (the only legitimate line in the eyes of the
.Qumranites and of many other Jews), they were considered
usurpers. It is noteworthy that normative Judaism has also re­
jected, the Maccabean writings. The reason is noT'Mrd'l^ find.
Judaism was split wide op'en with sectarianism, and the problem
of the Rabbis after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. was
si to reconcile as many different segments of Jewry as possible.