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Whose Scripture? Whose Community? Reflections on the Dead Sea Scrolls Then and Now, By Way of Aramaic Levi

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Reexamination of the varieties of manuscripts testifying to Aramaic Levi suggests already that they reflect not a single, relatively consistent work as many have long thought, but a work that existed in diverse recensions, including more than one among the numerous manuscripts at Qumran. Examination of 4Q213b, line 1 and 4Q213a 3–4, 3a suggests even more, that the forms of the work found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were the result of a Qumran compositional strategy of deploying, revising, and supplementing existing texts and traditions in ways consistent with the interests of the community. This suggests not only that the Dead Sea Scrolls include "sectarian works" that we have not yet acknowledged as such; it also warns us against assuming that we can ever know the scope and nature of works only partially preserved at Qumran by comparing them with similar or even supposedly identical works attested outside of the Qumran Scrolls.

Affiliations: 1: Lewis & Clark College


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