L’ Écrit de Damas : Le manifeste essénien . (Collection de la Revue des Études juives 51). Leuven: Peeters, 2011. Pp. xx, 222. Paperback. €72.00. isbn 978-90-429-2266-2 (Peeters Leuven) / isbn 978-2-7584-0084-4 (Peeters France). While several excellent bilingual editions exist of the mediaeval Cairo copies of this important work, it is now necessary for the ten fragmentary manuscripts from Qumran caves 4, 5, and 6 to be included. For these provide both a certain amount of additional text, belonging mostly before and after the content of the Cairo Manuscript A, but with some between the end of the “Admonition” in A1-7/B 20 and the beginning of the Laws (9-16). In addition, the fragmentsimply a rearrangement of the material, with cd 15 and 16 being placed before 9-14. English readers are already well served by the Baumgarten and Schwartz bilingual edition, but this, as most translations do also, treats the Q manuscripts separately. H’s edition is among the less expensive, and also offers the advantage of a conflated text and translation. The brief Introduction (ix-xv) first sketches the history of the Cairo texts, suggesting that they were copied by Qaraites from incomplete manuscripts found in caves. A résumé of the contents follows, and the additional material from the Qumran copies is presented. Finally, terminological and ideological differences from the Serekh ha-Yahad and Hodayoth are noted. The author takes the majority view that the Damascus Document is a Essene composition, reflecting the earliest stage of that movement. Given the many uncertainties regarding this composition, a short Introduction is perfectly adequate. A synopsis of the various manscripts is also supplied. The conflated text thus opens with what may well be the original words, reconstructed from 4Q266-268, and ends with a “Penal Code,” also missing from the Cairo text. The additional legal material between cd XV and XX is conveniently divided into topical subheadings. The Hebrew text is presented with a critical apparatus, including variants and conjectural proposals, and the commentary notes biblical and Qumranic parallels. Aa bibiography, index of selected Hebrew terms, and index of ancient source sis included. The one important caution to heed in using this conflated edition is that it does and cannot offer an “original” document, any more than can be done for the S(erekh) or M(ilhamah) texts. We have only recensions, including two from Cairo. Thus, for example, 4Q265, not included here, may have been part of a particular recension and not others. But with this reservation heeded, the volume under review is an excellent resource, especially for students.
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jul 24, 2014
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