Monday, July 30, 2012

The Qumran Excavations 1993-2004. Preliminary report. Summary

Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg
Jerusalem 2007

Much has been written about Qumran, and endless theories have been proposed, some of which have attained the status of fact upon which archaeological research has built over the past fifty years. Here, we wish to clearly distinguish between various hypotheses concerning the site and the archaeological evidence that we have exposed in our excavations.

The first settlement at Qumran was established in the Iron Age. When the site was again inhabited in the Hasmonean period it was built in exactly the same place. This fact itself, together with an analysis of the topography and of the water regime of the area, provide clear evidence that this was the optimal—and perhaps the only—location on the upper plateau of the marl terraces next to the fault scarp in which a settlement would not be swept away by floods and would be able to collect flowing water and potters' clay. The claim that the location was chosen because of its isolation, for the purpose of establishing a first Jewish monastery or a community center for the Judean Desert sect, is groundless.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Samaritan Version of Deuteronomy and the Origin of Deuteronomy

Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorch
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Since 1953, when Albrecht Alt’s famous essay “Die Heimat des Deuteronomiums” was published, the question about the historical origin of Deuteronomy became an important issue in the research on the Hebrew Bible. Pointing especially to conceptual parallels between Deuteronomy and the Book of Hosea, Alt argued that Deuteronomy was not composed in Judah or in Jerusalem, but in the North. Although this suggestion has been followed by important experts of Deuteronomy, Alt’s theory is today far from being generally accepted among Old Testament scholars. One of the main reasons for this situation seems to be one weak point: Alt’s study offers no explanation for how the idea of cult centralization, which is so prominently expressed in Deuteronomy (especially in chapters 12, 14, and 16), fits in the geographical context of Israel. Therefore, this issue seems to be worth reconsideration, and this will be the main focus of the following article.

The idea of cult centralization appears for the first time in Deut 12:5:

You shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes (םכיטבש לכמ םכיהלא הוהי רחבי רשא םוקמה) as his habitation to put his name there. You shall go there…

This or similar formulae appear in the Book of Deuteronomy no less than 22 times. From the perspective of the received Masoretic text as a whole, the chosen place is clearly identified within the so-called Deuteronomistic history. Accordingly, the chosen place is Jerusalem, as expressed in the extant narrative for the first time in 1 Kgs 8:16 (LXX//2 Chr 6:5‒6):

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent Research: A Teaching and Study Resource

John E. Anderson

I.  Introduction
a.  A lack of consensus in the last 30 years of scholarship
b.  Both diachronic and synchronic approaches, documentarian and supplementarian approaches
c.  To understand where we are, it is important—briefly—to look at from where we have come

II.  Precursors to the Documentary Hypothesis: Working Towards JEDP (emergent source-criticism)
a.  Spinoza (1670): “it is thus clearer than the sun at noonday that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone who lived longer after Moses” (also Hobbes)
b.  Jean Astruc (1753): isolates in Genesis an E and J source, with other independent material (yet did not challenge Mosaic authorship; Moses as redactor)
c.  Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849) – decisive new phase in Pentateuchal investigations.
i.  Saw religious institutions in Chronicles as retrojection from time of writing in late Persian / early Hellenistic period
1.  thus reasonable that Pentateuchal legal material dates from time after monarchy
2.  Pentateuchal narrative traditions cannot be used as historical source material
ii.  1805 – identified law book discovered by Josiah as early version of Deuteronomy (dates to 7th century)
d.  H. Hupfeld (1853): in Genesis, identifies earlier E strand (corresponding to P) and later one; also an even later J document
e.  K.H. Graf (1860s): Hupfeld’s E1 = Priestly and is latest, not earliest source (also Reuss prior and Kuenen after re-dating)
f.  Julius Wellhausen (Prolegomena to the History of Israel)
i.  J & E = earliest sources; not always clearly distinguishable by use of divine names
1.  combined by a Jahwistic editor
ii.  Q (quattuor, four covenants) provides basic chronological structure for P material fitted in
iii.  P
1.  ritual law in Holiness Code (Leviticus 17-26), which is dependent on Ezekiel
2.  thus P is the latest stage in editorial history of 5x/6x, save for some late Deuteronomic retouchings
iv.  Deuteronomy
1.  comes into existence independent of other sources
2.  622 with Josiah = first edition
3.  familiar with JE but not P, so combined with JE prior to P ® JEDP
4.  end result = publication of Pentateuch in final form at the time of Ezra (5th century)
v.  Reveals an evolutionary view of Israelite religion (sees Moses as at end rather than beginning of historical process)
1.  JE = nature religion, spontaneous worship arising in daily life and festivals tethered to agrarian calendar
2.  D = centralization of worship, ends spontaneity, seals prophecy with emphasis on written law
3.  P = denatured religion dominated by clerical caste that remade past in own image
vi.  This view of sources dominated largely for nearly a century

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Origin of the Samaritans

By Magnar Kartveit

Many Bible readers will think that chapter 17 of the second book of Kings refers to the origin of the Samaritans. According to the Authorized Version we read about “the Samaritans” in verse 29, and a number of translations reveal the same understanding. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that 2Kgs 17:29 does not refer to the Samaritans, but to the “people of Samaria,” whose relation to the Samaritans is not immediately clear.

The understanding of 2Kgs 17 as dealing with the Samaritans has its earliest attestation in the works of Josephus. He offers a story where he describes them as “Chouthaioi,” a group which was brought by the Assyrian king Salmanasser from “Chouthas” in Persia into Samaria after the occupation and subsequent depopulation of that area, Ant. 9.278f., 288–291.This version takes us back to the eighth century B.C.E., and it has led scholars and lay people to believe that the Samaritans were deportees from the East, brought into Samaria in this early period; in Samaria they remained through the ages, and perhaps they mixed with the local population—a situation which most likely resulted in syncretism. The story resembles 2Kgs 17 and this has led to reading the chapter as referring to the origin of the Samaritans.