Monday, November 22, 2004

NEWS ON THE NEW 1 ENOCH FRAGMENT: Yesterday evening after the Qumran session, Esther and Hanan Eshel gave an impromptu presentation on the new 1 Enoch fragment, whose story broke on PaleoJudaica some time ago. They are calling it XQpapEnoch, since they are confident it comes from a Qumran cave, but they don't know which one, and (unusually for a Qumran scroll and uniquely for a Qumran Enoch manuscript) it's written on papyrus rather than leather. It contains the damaged Aramaic text of 1 Enoch 8:4-9:3, a passage that tells how the archangels looked down from heaven on the corruption of the earth before the Flood, and it allows us to correct one of Milik's reconstructions since the word in question survives on this papyrus. The correct reading or something very close to it was conjectured by Loren Stuckenbruck (of Durham University) some time ago, before this fragment was discovered. (Well done, Loren.)

The fragment belongs to the Kando family. (Kando was an antiquities dealer who brokered the original Dead Sea Scrolls acquistions.) The Enoch papyrus is one of 12 unpublished fragments owned by them. The Eshels have seen infra-red photos of 6 of these. Five are biblical fragments from three already known manuscripts: 4QIsac, 4QGenf, and 8QGen. The other six look like "black corn flakes" and are now on tour in the USA in the From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book exhibition. The Eshels haven't seen the fragment in person yet but the are confident enough of its authenticity to publish it now. They passed around a photo of the text during the lecture and Moshe Bernstein promptly challenged one of their readings. Scholarship in action.

There are also rumors that another fragment of the same manuscript exists.

Many thanks to Esti and Hanan for sharing this information with us. And thanks again to the Society of Biblical Literature for providing the free Internet access that's allowing me to post this. I'm in a hurry so as not to monopolize the facilities, so apologies for any typos. More has been happening, of course, but this is the most interesting conference news so far.

UPDATE (25 November): Here's a photo of Esther Eshel making the presentation:

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