Sunday, March 23, 2014

Schiffman on the DSS and the Jewish book

ANOTHER BLOG SERIES BY LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the History of the Jewish Book (5 posts).
The complicated process whereby the biblical books took shape and were copied and transmitted in biblical times can only be partly reconstructed based on biblical evidence, with the help of ancient Near Eastern parallels. Clearly, the biblical era constitutes the first stage in the history of the Jewish book, or more correctly, The Jewish book, par excellence. However, for the period immediately following, the Second Temple period, the level of documentation for creating, editing/redacting, and copying and disseminating Jewish books is now enormous due to the discovery, publication and analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls.[1] While this information relates directly to the period in which the Scrolls were copied, from the last part of the third century BCE through the early first century CE, it does allow us a model with which to supplement our understanding of the biblical period, and much of it is directly relevant to the rabbinic period in which most of the same scribal conventions were in use.