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“Memory And Manuscript”: Books, Scrolls, And The Tradition Of The Qumran Texts

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Chapter Summary

Long before the modern discussion of orality and literacy, the talmudic rabbis discussed the role of these factors in the transmission of the Jewish tradition. They argued that Jewish tradition was made up of components originally composed or revealed in written form, and also of material that had originated orally and been transmitted by memory and not by manuscript. Given the role of text and manuscript as the only medium for memory among the sectarians, this chapter dedicates a study to the mentions of scroll, book, and text in the Qumran documents themselves. It begins with the background set by the Hebrew Bible, then proceeds to the Scrolls corpus, and then compare this corpus with the New Testament and rabbinic literature. Finally, it draws conclusions about the role of scrolls and books in the ancient Dead Sea sect, and also in the Scrolls culture of todays academic and wider communities.

Keywords: books; Dead Sea Scrolls; Hebrew Bible; Jewish tradition; manuscript; memory; New Testament; Qumran texts; rabbinic literature; Talmudic rabbis



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