Tuesday, September 27, 2016

RBL Review of Jassen's "Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls"

The most recent RBL has a review by Ian Werrett of Alex Jassen's Scripture and Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The review is long, but a good (generally appreciative) summary of the important points of the book. In particular, Jassen stresses how nonpentateuchal texts can also be used as prooftexts in legal debates, demonstrating an authoritativeness (even if secondary to the Pentateuch) for these texts as well.

According to Werrett:

"Some of the more notable observations in this chapter include: (1) that the legal material in the Dead Sea Scrolls is reflective of a broad and lively discussion on halakah in ancient Judaism; (2) that any study on legal-exegetical trends in the rabbinic corpus must take into consideration the legal positions and exegetical strategies of the Second Temple period and vice versa; (3) that the Dead Sea Scrolls community was seemingly content to use nonpentateuchal sources as legal prooftexts, thereby implying a degree of authority approaching that of the Pentateuch; and (4) that many of the documents from the Second Temple period appear to modify the wording of the biblical passages they employ as prooftexts, thereby indicating that the authors of these texts had an effect on the overall shape of the canon."

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