Saturday, October 1, 2016

Qumran and Canon

I'm still making my way through the latest issue of The Bible Translator, which is all about the biblical canon (previously noted here and here).

Here are some notes about the article on Qumran.

Andy Warren-Rothlin, "The Accretion of Canons in and around Qumran," The Bible Translator 67.2 (2016): 120–36. 

I find this a somewhat idiosyncratic presentation of canon issues arising from the Qumran scrolls, not an altogether helpful presentation of the data or the scholarly interpretations of it. He begins with textual diversity at Qumran, but then he wants to establish that Judaism at the time had a tripartite canon, as shown by 2 Macc 2:13–15 and Luke 24:44.
None of these "canon" statements, nor the use of the term αἱ γραφαί "the writings/Scriptures," can be shown to include any work not included in the Tanakh. This evidence thus forces us to the conclusion that the frequent attestation of other books in this period must be understood as representing, at most, a secondary, or "deutero-" canon. (p. 125)
This is a more confident statement than many scholars would be willing to make. He makes other confident statements where I would want to be more cautious, such as: "It is well known that the use of the codex by Christians contributed much to the concept of a closed canon" (p. 132). I would prefer to say: some scholars have argued that the use of the codex by Christians may have contributed to the concept of a closed canon.

He says there are two passages in the DSS that attest a tripartite canon: 4QMMT C 10 and CD 7.15–18. The former is highly debated and most scholars would not use it to establish a tripartite canon. Warren-Rothlin acknowledges part of this debate, but he confidently asserts that 'David' is "metonymous for the Psalms or Writings" in 2 Macc 2 and Luke 24:44, and he further points out (an idea which had not occurred to me before) that all of the Hagiographa are connected to David or Solomon in some way, except for Esther (not found at Qumran), Lamentations (possibly counted with Jeremiah), and Daniel (possibly included in the early period among the Prophets), so 'David' could serve as a reasonable title for this section (p. 128). As for CD 7.15–18, we have a reference to the Torah, Prophets, and an "interpreter of the Torah," which Warren-Rothlin thinks is probably a reference to David (either as Messiah or author of the Psalter) and again is "surely" metonymous for the Writings.

But he admits that the third section might be an open section, based on the Sirach prologue and the Qumran idea that inspired interpretation still occurred. And then he suggests that the reference to Paul's letters as scripture at 2 Pet 3:16 "may indicate a preparedness to accept additions to the third section of the canon" (p. 129). So, Paul's letters would be in the Hagiographa? He also says that Jubilees and Enoch would be in the Hagiographa, but actually since Jubilees seems "so clearly interpretative," it would not have "anything approaching 'canonical' status" (p. 129).

His article ends with a few pages suggesting that the UBS give thought to these issues when considering which canon to use for its Bible projects.

One last note: Warren-Rothlin says that the reason Sirach as omitted from the Protestant canon "has been based largely on its not being in Hebrew (following Jerome and Luther)" (p. 132). Well, I won't speak for Luther, but Jerome did not exclude Sirach based on its unavailability in Hebrew. Indeed, Jerome said that he had seen a Hebrew copy of the book (Preface to the Books of Solomon). [I think he also misunderstands the textual attestation of Jubilees (p. 124).]

On the canon at Qumran, I would recommend the relevant chapters in VanderKam's book and in Lim's book.

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