Thursday, June 17, 2021

Paleographic Style and the Forms and Functions of the Dead Sea Psalm Scrolls

My article on the style and function of the Dead Sea Psalm scrolls has now been published as an advance article! By way of background, this is a crucial part of my argument that the forms of the manuscripts suggest possible functions, which in turn helps us interpret their contents.

Drew Longacre, "Paleographic Style and the Forms and Functions of the Dead Sea Psalm Scrolls: A Hand Fitting for the Occasion?" Vetus Testamentum (2021): 1-26.


  1. Alexander ThomsonJune 17, 2021 at 12:27 PM

    Thank you for this article. One is tempted to think a priori, that the textual "purity" of a neat/formal script will be higher than that of an untidy/informal script. Perhaps this might extend to NT scripts as well? It certainly would be useful, in evaluating variant readings, what is the state of script and witness!

  2. It's a little more complicated than that, because you can never be sure about the quality of an exemplar a priori. But generally, I do think that scribes professionally producing formal manuscripts for others don't normally concern themselves with making content changes, while interested users self-producing manuscripts for themselves may (but not necessarily) be more likely to introduce changes.

  3. Alexander ThomsonJune 18, 2021 at 3:11 AM

    Was "amateur" copying more widespread than we think/ Was literacy among Christians higher than in the general population? And what about Biblical "oracy"?We know from Augustine about the congregational uproar that ensued on hearing Jerome's different Latin word for Jonah's gourd!

  4. Alexander ThomsonJune 18, 2021 at 3:15 AM

    Interesting that professional scribes might be less likely to change content. Makes one suspicious of the view that the nicest exemplar is going to be the best witness to the text. I was trained to view with initial "distrust" neatly-written legal documents tied up with pretty pink ribbon!