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Wacholder, Ben Zion


The New Damascus Document. The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Reconstruction, Translation and Commentary.


Leiden-Boston: Brill 2007. XXX, 426 S. gr.8° = Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 56. Lw. EUR 137,00. ISBN 978-90-04-14108-7.


Albert L. A. Hogeterp

This study by B. Z. Wacholder constitutes the first composite edition of all manuscripts of the Damascus Document (CD-A, CD-B, 4Q266–273 (4QDa–h), 5Q12 (5QD), 6Q15[6QD]), since the Qumran Cave 4 texts were integrally published by J. M. Baumgarten in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series, volume 18, in 1996. In this composite edition of fragmentarily preserved Qumran manu­scripts, W. distinguishes between restoration of biblical citations with the aid of the Masoretic Text and of formulaic language known from other parts of the Damascus Document and reconstruction on a more speculative basis, albeit with reference to other Qumran texts, in particular to the Rule of the Community (2). In addition to a composite edition of text with translation (22–107), W. provides extensive commentary per section of the document’s literary structure (109–368). The composite edition with commentary is preceded by an introductory chapter (1–19) which pays fur­ther further attention to the language of the Damascus Document as part of Second Temple usage (1–2), to the history of the text (3–9), to the literary unity of the text (9–11), to the idea that admonitions and laws are interwoven in the text (12–14), and to the organ­ization of the book (14–19), with reference to methodical issues such as the ›primary text‹ in a composite edition, generally being 4Q266 (4QD a), and to ›verb usage and time issues‹ being deter­mined by context.

W.s composite edition is accompanied by an extensive apparatus with notes on divergent spellings in CD-A or CD-B as com­-pared to 4QD fragments or vice versa, signification of Hebrew terms, and comparisons with other scholarly transcriptions. Re­constructions adopted in the text are in a majority of cases from W. himself. With regard to the Cairo Genizah manuscripts CD-A and CD-B, reconstructions by E. Qimron (in The Damascus Document Reconsidered, 1992, 9–49) have further been adopted. With regard to Qumran cave 4 manuscripts of the Damascus Document, reconstructions by J. M. Baumgarten (DJD 18, 1996) are frequently in­cluded. W.s survey of ›Unincorporated Fragments‹ (369–77) further »reproduces Joseph Baumgarten’s unidentified fragments in DJD XVIII« (369) with the addition of some reconstructions and with the exception of 4Q266 34 which W. reads as parallel to CD-A IV 17–18. W. further adopts reconstructions by H. Stegemann (STDJ 34, 2000, 177–200) to a lesser extent and occasionally refers to readings by C. Hempel; F. García Martínez and E. J. C. Tigchelaar; and D. R. Schwartz.

A composite edition is very useful in view of long sections of text from the Qumran Cave 4 manuscripts that precede, overlap with, and follow the sequence of text in CD-A and CD-B, but it may not always be without problems in cases of textual variation. With regard to CD-A VII 6b–VIII 1a and CD-B XIX 2b–13a, the question arises how apparently divergent recensions in manuscripts A and B can be reconciled in a composite edition, as W. has done on pages 40–45. W. argues for the ›B-text‹ as the generally »more reliable at­tes­tation to the MTA tradition«, but at the same time takes the ›A-text‹ to be preferable in cases when »the B-text is incoherent and the A is more readable« (236). It thereby remains unclear how this argument rises above various scholarly hypotheses which have been put forward about textual differences between the Amos-Numbers midrash in the A-text and the Zechariah-Ezekiel midrash in the B-text (cf. C. Hempel, The Damascus Texts [CQS, 1], Sheffield, Academic Press, 2000, 77–8).

Differently from other scholarship on the Damascus Document, W. relates its authorship not to a community setting in general, usually that of the Essenes, but to the individual figures of Zadok and Boethus with comparative reference to Al-Qirqisani and Maimonides on the one hand and rabbinic texts such as Avot d’Rabbi Nathan on the other (4–8). A further difference is the overall futuris­tic understanding of the ›Teacher of Righteousness‹ or, in W.s translation, ›a Just Teacher‹, from the outset of the document (CD-A I 11) rather than its historical reading in ›conventional scholar­ship‹ (Wacholder, 147; 17), as part of a description of »the origins of a movement« (Hempel, The Damascus Texts, 27). W. provides extensive discussion of references to the Just Teacher, both in the Damascus Document and in the Qumran Pesharim (1QpHab, 1QpMic, 4QpPsa, 4QpNah, 4QpIsaa), in order to buttress his futuris­tic reading of CD-A I 10b–12 (147–72). W.s argument for a futuristic interpretation of CD-A I 11 has its basis in reading a waw conjunction rather than a waw consecutive before the imperfect form of the verb םוק (147). Yet it remains unexplained why, in the case of 1QpHab XI 7, W. translates the perfect tense עיפוה, without a waw, as a future tense in English (›he will appear‹, 154); a line which makes part of a passage (1QpHab XI 2–8) that has been understood in a thoroughly historical sense (see e. g. W. H. Brownlee, The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk [SBLMS, 24], Missoula, Scholars Press, 1979, 179–89). It should further be noted that W. consistently translates רשפ as ›eschatological interpretation/meaning‹ (152 f.155.157–62.164.166–7.169.172). This translation further differs from a render­ing as that by W. H. Brownlee: ›prophetic meaning‹, whereas, for instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition. 1, 19 by F. García Martínez and E. J. C. Tigchelaar simply renders רשפ in e. g. 1QpHab XI 4 as ›interpretation‹. In W.s translation of רשפ as ›eschatological interpretation‹, םימיה תירחאל םגתפ[ה רשפ] in 4QpIsaa 2–6 22 would constitute a pleonasm. Some of W.s argumentation from the context of other Qumran texts thereby remains problematic, even though his argument for the futuristic understanding of the Just Teacher in the Damascus Document as a whole is thought-provok­ing and of critical interest in view of scholarly questions about the historicity of a ›Teacher of Righteousness‹ who is not mentioned in a text like the Rule of the Community.

W.s new title for the composite text, ›Midrash on the Eschatological Torah‹, derives from the final passage at the end of the work and from his arguable reconstruction of the opening line of the work in 4Q266 1 1. W.s opening line: »[Here is ›The Midrash on the Eschatological Torah.‹ It is incumbent upon the so]ns of light« (22–3) finds further support from a reconstruction put forward by H. Stegemann (STDJ 34, 2000, 193 f.). However, it diverges much from the reconstruction by Baumgarten, DJD 18, 1996, 32: »[The elaboration of the laws by the Sage for the s]ons of light«. In his commentary on pages 109–112, W. argues with justification that ןורחאה הרותה שרדמ (4Q270 7 ii 15) rather than םיטפשמה שורפ (4Q266 11 18 // 4Q270 7 ii 12) may be taken to constitute a title. In the reviewer’s opinion, some critical factors appear pending with regard to the substitution of the title Damascus Document by ›Midrash on the Es­chatological Torah‹. First, W. explains the occurrence of הרות[ה שרדמ רפס] ןורחאה in 4Q266 5 i 17, ›in the middle of the work‹, as a ›tentative conclusion‹, arguing that »the author had thoughts of ending the book at this point, but subsequently changed his mind to enlarge it further« (262). This raises fur­ther questions about the composition history of the text as well as about the ground for reconstructing the additional word רפס as part of [ה שרדמ רפס] ןורחאה הרות in 4Q266 5 i 17, a word that is absent in 4Q270 7 ii 15. Second, an important difference should be noted between the literary citation formula רפס לע קדקודמ אוה הנה in CD-A XVI 2–4 // 4Q271 4 ii 4–5 and the final part of the Damascus Document as reconstructed by W.: שרדמ לע בתכנ לוכה הנה ןורחאה הרותה. The absence of the word רפס in 4Q270 7 ii 15 leaves the ques­tion to be answered whether the phrase לע בתכנ is a current formula for intro­ducing a literary title of a work. In 4Q180 5–6 2 and 5, for instance, לע בותכ signifies ›it is written about‹ rather than ›it is written in/upon‹.

This is a thought-provoking book which may provide a stimulus for much further discussion with regard to its overall interpretation as ›Midrash on the Eschatological Torah‹. W.s book is invaluable for his meticulous work of textual edition and for his exten­sive commentary on each section of the newly conceived composite text.