H. von Weissenberg, J. Pakkala, and M. Marttila, eds., Changes in Scripture: Rewriting and Interpreting Authoritative Traditions in the Second Temple Period

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 13 (2013) - Review

Von Weissenberg, Hanne, Juha Pakkala, and Marko Marttila (eds.), Changes in Scripture: Rewriting and Interpreting Authoritative Traditions in the Second Temple Period (BZAW, 419; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011). Pp. vi + 436. Hardcover. US$182.00 / €129,95. ISBN 978-3-11-024048-1.

This collection of nineteen articles explores the implications of a pluriform textual tradition on the fields of Hebrew Bible and the literature of the Second Temple Period. In section 1 (“Introduction”), the editors suggest that this study is needed because “the Qumran material is fundamentally modifying our understanding of many central questions, such as the textual development of the Hebrew Scriptures, the formation of the canon, and biblical interpretation in the Second Temple period” (p. 3). They call for greater terminological clarity (p. 5), briefly outline the reality of changes to Scripture in the manuscript evidence (p. 6), and suggest that scribes “should not be seen as merely mechanical copyists” but as “theologically creative authors” (p. 7).

Section 2 (“Methodological Issues”), begins with J. J. Collins's article “Changing Scripture.” Collins's primary objective is to discuss the ideology of scribal changes: both the positive and negative receptions of scribal activity in the Torah (p. 23). He explores rewriting in Deuteronomy, Jubilees, the Temple Scroll, and rewritten scriptural compositions concluding that “to charge these authors with fraud, however, is not entirely anachronistic” (pp. 40–41).

Next, in “The Evolutionary Production and Transmission of the Scriptural Books,” Eugene Ulrich analyses the relationship and “overlap between composition, redaction, textual transmission and reception” (p. 48). He suggests that “the process of the composition of the Scriptures was organic, developmental, with successive layers of tradition, revised to meet the needs of the historically and religiously changing community” (p. 55) and that “canon is the ultimate act of reception” (p. 62).

Hans Debel, in “Rewritten Bible, Variant Literary Editions and Original Text(s): Exploring the Implications of a Pluriform Outlook on the Scriptural Tradition,” analyses the significance of the Qumran finds on the search for an Urtext and the relationship of a possible Urtext to the “rewritten” compositions (p. 67). He concludes that the search for an Urtext is “an ill-fated undertaking” (pp. 84–85) and that the division between variant literary editions and rewritten compositions needs to “dissolve into a ‘sliding scale’ ” (p. 84).

In her article, “Talking about Rewritten Texts: Some Reflections on Terminology,” Molly Zahn argues that the use of older terminology hinders the full appreciation of the Qumran textual evidence. She discusses the viability of multiple terms such as parabiblical, pseudo-X, Bible, apocryphon, and pseudepigraphon. She concludes with a warning: we must avoid projecting our categories back onto the data. However, we know little about the operative literary categories of the Second Temple period.

Section 3 (“Changed Texts”) commences with Sidnie White Crawford's article “The Pentateuch as Found in the Pre-Samaritan Texts and 4QReworked Pentateuch.” Based on her analysis of the pre-SP and rewritten texts, White Crawford concludes that “the harmonistic/expansive text-type is not an accident in the Qumran collection, but part of the Qumran community's repertoire of Pentateuchal texts” (p. 128).

Anneli Aejmelaeus, in “David's Three Choices: Textual and Literary Development in 2 Samuel 24,” demonstrates that the text of 2 Sam 24 “has been edited at different stages during its history, not just in the hands of the editors responsible for the Deuteronomic History but also later” (p. 137). She concludes that these changes were made “precisely for their preparation for inclusion in the collection of Prophets and thus in the “canon” of sacred Scripture” (p. 149).

In “The Legs and Wings of the Grasshopper: A Case Study on Changes in the Masoretic Text and in the Old Greek Translation of the Book of Leviticus,” Kristin De Troyer sifts through the textual, semantic, and interpretive issues present in MT Lev 11:21 by appealing to the OG. She argues that the reading witnessed in the Schøyen manuscript likely represents the OG and that, through textual correction in the LXX, this reading eventually became a Qere in the MT (pp. 160–61).

Robert Kugler, in “Uncovering a New Dimension of Early Judean Interpretation of the Greek Torah: Ptolemaic Law Interpreted by its Own Rhetoric,” argues that the language of the LXX Torah mirrors legal language from Ptolemaic era papyri and that the LXX used Ptolemaic legal language to reinterpret that same legal material (p. 166). For Kugler, this reuse of legal language is evidence that Judeans in Hellenistic Egypt were allowed to abide by both “Ptolemaic koine law and Judean law” (p. 173).

In “Double Prophecy: The Pilgrimage of the Nations in Mic 4:1–5 and Isa 2:1–5,” Reinhard Müller argues that these parallel prophetic texts likely originated in Micah and that the vision was later added to Isaiah based on the textual evidence (p. 178). He suggests that this vision was inserted into the beginning of the prophetic corpus because it supplemented Isaiah's focus on the Zion tradition (pp. 187–8).

Juha Pakkala, in “The Quotations and References of the Pentateuchal Laws in Ezra-Nehemiah,” attempts to describe the textual form of the Torah in the fifth–third centuries b.c.e. using legal quotations in Ezra-Nehemiah. He notes that the authors of Ezra-Nehemiah do not distinguish between the original law and its interpretation (p. 215) and that these authors “were much less concerned about the exact or actual text of the Pentateuch than what has been traditionally assumed in scholarship” (p. 219).

In “The Textual Connection Between 1QM 1 and the Book of Daniel,” Hanna Venonen investigates the still-developing text of Daniel in light of 1QM 1. Her analysis is primarily concerned with the meaning of 1QM and she suggests that the textual reworking of column 1 had rendered the text incoherent (p. 242).

The final contribution to section 3 is Hanne von Weissenberg's article “Changing Scripture? Scribal Corrections in MS 4QXIIc.” Von Weissenberg examines the scribal habits in 4QXIIc and investigates the scribal mechanism by which supralinear corrections become incorporated into a text. She concludes that the changes present in 4QXIIc “attest to the scribal contribution to the development of the texts that became the Hebrew Bible” (p. 269).

Section 4 (“Deuteronomism in Later Literature”) opens with Pancratius C. Beentjes's article “The Book of Ben Sira and Deuteronomistic Heritage: A Critical Approach.” Beentjes analyses the lexical and thematic influences of the Deuteronomic corpus on Ben Sira and concludes that, while a relationship exists, “Ben Sira's dependence on Deuteronomic literature and theology should not be overstated” (p. 293).

Francis Borchardt, in “The Deuteronomic Legacy of 1 Maccabees,” traces the vestiges of Deuteronomic tradition and style in 1 Maccabees. He concludes that “Deuteronomic phraseology abounds in 1 Maccabees” (p. 317), but that it is difficult to tell whether it derives from Deuteronomic compositions or the common speech of the Hasmonean period.

In “The Deuteronomistic Ideology and Phraseology in the Book of Baruch,” Mark Marttila suggests that Baruch is a pastiche of scriptural passages and that Deuteronomic phraseology and theology abound in the composition (p. 321). He explores the numerous lexical and thematic connections between the Deuteronomic corpus and Baruch concluding that the various genres and styles within Baruch mirror the Deuteronomic corpus (p. 342).

Mika S. Pajunen, in “The Use of Different Aspects of the Deuteronomistic Ideology in Apocryphal Psalms,” explores “the extent to which so-called Deuteronomistic ideology has influenced these psalms” (p. 347). He analyses multiple non-Masoretic psalms found at Qumran and concludes that Deuteronomistic ideology was “deeply embedded” in the composers of these psalms (p. 365).

In “Judith and Deuteronomistic Heritage,” Anssi Voitila analyses the Deuteronomic influence on the book of Judith. He notes multiple thematic and verbal parallels between the Deuteronomic corpus and Judith, but concludes that Deuteronomic influence does not dominate Judith (p. 386).

The final article in the volume is “A Deuteronomic Heritage in Tobit?” by Stuart Weeks. He argues that Tobit is a “sophisticated composition” and that it is influenced by multiple scriptural traditions including, but not limited to, the Deuteronomic corpus (p. 390). He concludes that “if there is a Deuteronomic heritage in Tobit…it jostles for space amongst other concerns” (pp. 402–3).

As with any volume of this size and scope, the quality of contributions and the relevance of the topics to one's research interests are bound to be heterogeneous. Nonetheless, this volume is important and makes a positive contribution to scholarship for multiple reasons. First, the quality of the contributors instantly lends credibility to the overall project. Second, few studies have been devoted to exploring the ramification of textual pluriformity and how it influences the way in which scholars understand and talk about the Hebrew Scriptures and the literature of Second Temple Judaism. This volume deals extensively with this issue, and is therefore a welcome addition. Third, this collection explores this issue by examining a broad swathe of Jewish literature including the Hebrew Bible, Qumran literature and manuscripts, and the so-called “deuterocanonical” works. For those with an interest in scribal habits, the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible, and the legacy of the Deuteronomic corpus, among other interests, I strongly recommend this volume.

Garrick Vernon Allen, University of St Andrews