Molly M. Zahn

»Editing« and the Composition of Scripture: The Significance of the Qumran Evidence

Volume 3 () / Issue 3, pp. 298-316 (19)

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The manuscript finds from Qumran provide an unparalleled body of evidence for approaching the question of how biblical texts were composed and transmitted. They show that, at least in the late Second Temple period, composition of new works frequently involved extensive use of one or more existing texts. On the other hand, texts were often changed intentionally, in major and minor ways, as new copies of them were produced. This paper surveys the Qumran evidence for scribal interventions of various kinds in both of these textual contexts (new works, and new copies of existing works), and considers the implications of this evidence for our understanding of the development of biblical texts. The Qumran evidence suggests that scribal interventions must be considered an integral part of the compositional process. It also supports the redaction-critical premise that biblical texts developed in many successive stages, while also raising significant questions about our ability to reconstruct these stages.

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