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The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Origins Of Biblical Commentary

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins by establishing some definitions, and moves from there to a brief sketch of ancient Graeco-Roman commentary literature. Commentaries in the narrower sense of sequential annotations of literary texts began to emerge in the Hellenistic period. Together with the definitive edition of texts, the chapter shows that the commentary became one of the characteristic forms of Alexandrian scholarship from about the second century BCE. A survey of the pesher commentaries then leads to concluding comments about potential contact between Qumran and Hellenistic commentary techniques and more specifically about formal analogies between them. The Dead Sea Scrolls have brought to light the earliest explicit Jewish commentaries on Scripture, dating by common consent from the period of ca. 100 BCE-70 CE. The chapter adopts a fairly standard inventory of fifteen continuous pesharim: five on Isaiah, seven on the minor prophets (Hosea, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah) and three on the Psalms.

Keywords: Alexandrian scholarship; ancient Graeco-Roman commentary literature; Dead Sea Scrolls; Hellenistic commentary; pesharim; Qumran commentary



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