The Compositional Development of Qumran Pesharim in Light of Mesopotamian Commentaries
Journal of Biblical Literature
Vol. 135, No. 3 (Fall 2016), pp. 525-541
The manuscript remains of Mesopotamian commentaries from the first millennium BCE provide ample evidence to construct a model for the creation of singular commentary texts out of widespread interpretive traditions. This model demonstrates how traditional interpretations of texts may be shared over a wide geographical area during a lengthy time span. What is more, the commentaries comprising these interpretations were neither static nor uniform; rather, they could represent interpretive traditions to varying extents, as well as grow and develop. A comparative application of the Mesopotamian model of commentary writing to the Qumran pesharim, which ostensibly lack manuscript evidence for their compositional history, provides solutions to a number of literary incongruities found in the pesharim as well as several scribal markings. This model also has important implications for the pesher genre and helps to highlight the similarity of several so-called thematic pesharim to the continuous ones, while at the same time further accounting for the variation attested in the continuous pesher category itself.