Commentary Culture in the Land of Israel from an Alexandrian Perspective

Commentary Culture in the Land of Israel from an Alexandrian Perspective Abstract This article investigates the development of commentary culture in the Land of Israel from an Alexandrian perspective. While both the rabbis and the exegetes at Qumran developed forms of systematic commentary, they differ in important respects. I argue that there are significant similarities between rabbinic exegesis and the commentary culture of Alexandria, both Homeric and biblical, while Qumranic exegesis can be characterized as prophetic. The Alexandrians and the rabbis explained their canonical text from within itself and appreciated it as a literary work. This implies that a human author with a distinct style is assumed and that problems of contradictions as well as verisimilitude are explicitly addressed. The particular form of rabbinic exegesis, which is novel in the Land of Israel, thus seems to have resulted from a lively engagement with Hellenistic culture. In Qumran, on the other hand, prophetic forms of commentary were prevalent. The exegete does not inquire into the biblical text from within itself, but assumes prophetic authority, which enables him to reveal the “secrets” of the text and gain direct access to God’s wisdom. Biblical lemmata are directly applied to contemporary events, while textual problems or literary questions are not explicitly addressed. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Dead Sea Discoveries Brill

Commentary Culture in the Land of Israel from an Alexandrian Perspective

Dead Sea Discoveries, Volume 19 (3): 442 – Jan 1, 2012

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0929-0761
eISSN
1568-5179
DOI
10.1163/15685179-12341239
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract This article investigates the development of commentary culture in the Land of Israel from an Alexandrian perspective. While both the rabbis and the exegetes at Qumran developed forms of systematic commentary, they differ in important respects. I argue that there are significant similarities between rabbinic exegesis and the commentary culture of Alexandria, both Homeric and biblical, while Qumranic exegesis can be characterized as prophetic. The Alexandrians and the rabbis explained their canonical text from within itself and appreciated it as a literary work. This implies that a human author with a distinct style is assumed and that problems of contradictions as well as verisimilitude are explicitly addressed. The particular form of rabbinic exegesis, which is novel in the Land of Israel, thus seems to have resulted from a lively engagement with Hellenistic culture. In Qumran, on the other hand, prophetic forms of commentary were prevalent. The exegete does not inquire into the biblical text from within itself, but assumes prophetic authority, which enables him to reveal the “secrets” of the text and gain direct access to God’s wisdom. Biblical lemmata are directly applied to contemporary events, while textual problems or literary questions are not explicitly addressed.

Journal

Dead Sea DiscoveriesBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2012

Keywords: Demetrius; Genesis Rabbah; 4QCommentary on Genesis A; Pesher Habakkuk; Homeric scholia; Philo

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