Friday, March 04, 2005

Hodayot Images

For color images of three columns of the Hodayot (1QHa), see this page at the Orion website. And this link at the Eikon image database (Yale Divinity School) leads to four black-and-white images of the Hodayot in the process of conservation from the Millar Burrows slide collection. The fourth, farther down on the page, shows 1QHa before it was unrolled. There are other Scroll images on that page as well. In all cases above, clicking on the small image leads to a large version.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

More on the Hodayot

A few Internet items on the Hodayot:

First, an article by Ken Penner (moderator of the Megillot list) in the electronic Journal of Biblical Studies:

"Realized or Future Salvation in the Hodayot"

Under "Dead Sea Scrolls Papers, for Religious Studies 225 University of Pennsylvania" (one of Robert Kraft's courses) we find:

"A Close Reading of the Hodayot and a Theory of their Authorship" by Jacob D. Jaffe

And from Taylor University College and Seminary, Canada, for REL 365: The Dead Sea Scrolls, we find:

An Introduction to the Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot)(1QH, 1Q35, 4Q427-32) by Sue Kellett & Colin Montgomery

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Summary of Hodayot Seminar

Much of the seminar discussion was about details of the complete essay and need not detain us here. Instead, I will concentrate on some interesting themes that arose in the conversation.

One early question was in what sense the Hodayot and the sectarian Scrolls in general teach "predestination." One suggestion was that, in contrast to the predestination of salvation in the Calvinistic tradition, Qumran predestination was about determinism in human lives in general. I don't know much about Calvinism, so I can't comment on that. But the key statement of sectarian determinism in the Scrolls, the Treatise on the Two Spirits in the Community Rule, seems to me to teach a general determinism, but with predestined salvation and damnation built into it. I'm less sure about the theology of the Hodayot, and the deterministic passages in col. 9 do seem to me to be more general. (All this is my considered off-the-cuff opinion as I type hurriedly in the late afternoon while fighting a cold, after a day with four hours of meetings.)

Incidentally, in this part of the discussion I emphasized the importance of appealing to specific primary references when discussing a thematic issue.

We spent some time on the issue of genre, noting the two basic genres generally agreed to be found in 1QHa:

Thanksgiving songs of the individual ("teacher" hymns)
Hymnic songs of confession ("community" hymns)

We touched on the question of whether the Hodayot were used for private devotion or in public liturgy, or some one and some the other. Rather than trying to answer the question, we talked more about how liturgical texts might look different from devotional texts (e.g., the use of 1st person plural forms, imperative calls to praise, instructions for ritual use, antiphonal responses, mention of accompanying instruments, etc.)

We noted the relevance of the Cave 4 Hodayot manuscripts for our understanding of 1QHa. The latter recension also appears in the early manuscript 4QHb and some evidence for source collections incorporated into this larger collection may be found in 4QHa, 4QHc, and 4QHc

We also discussed the importance of asking very basic questions of the primary text of ancient works like the Hodayot, such as: Why were the Hodayot written? What were the objectives of the author(s) and did they differ from the objectives of the editor of 1QHa? What were the main points they wanted to get across? What themes do they stress over and over? Who was the intended audience?

As for the proposed authorship by the Teacher of Righteousness, we noted that Sukenik apparently was the first to suggest this. He would already know about the Teacher of Righteousness from the Damascus Document manuscript from the Cairo Geniza, with more information about the Teacher coming from 1Qpesher Habakkuk, which he also would have seen. It certainly would have been tempting at that point to read the Hodayot alongside these texts, with the author's voice identified with the Teacher, and there are some striking points of comparison between 1QPHab and 1QHa which could be taken in that direction.

Nevertheless, the situation may well be more complicated. It was pointed out that even though some of the biblical Psalms actually have titles apparently attributing them to David, the consensus among Psalms scholars is that most or all of these are secondary and do not really indicate Davidic authorship. The Hodayot, by contrast, have no titles at all to the individual compositions. (It's difficult to tell how normal the lack of titles is for Jewish hymns of this period. The obvious point of comparison is the Psalms of Solomon, but their evidence is equivocal. The Greek version does have titles, but the Syriac version doesn't. Does this mean there were titles in the putative original Hebrew? Were these kept by the Greek translator and deleted by the Syriac translator, or are they a secondary addition in the Greek version?

In any case, there is no explicit claim that the Hodayot are by the Teacher of Righteousness - he is never mentioned in any of the 1QH or 4QH manuscripts. We may (or may not) infer from their content that he was the author, but how can we be sure that the hymns were not written much later than his time by someone writing on his behalf or under his prophetic inspiration or to evoke his memory or the like? (Cf. the Pastoral Epistles in the NT.)

As for the article by Douglas, it's perhaps helpful to summarize his two main arguments. The first is stylistic: unique stylistic peculiarities establish that much of cols. 10-17 share the same style and therefore come from the same author. Second, this author was the Teacher of Righteousness: the situation of the Teacher as presented in the pesharim is comparable to the situation of the author of this Hodayot unit; specifically both correspond closely to Victor Turner's anthropological model of social conflict.

I share Matthew's skepticism of this conclusion. A few observations:
    On the stylistic argument:
  • A group or a school can share a style - a distinctive style does not necessarily point to a single author. The parade example is the style of the Deuteronomistic School, which is distinctive and which shows up in various places in the documents in the Hebrew Bible.
  • Our sample of Hebrew poetry from this period is small.
  • The supposed sample of this one author's work is very small.

    On the anthropological model:
  • Turner's work is not very recent and I would feel more comfortable if Douglas had cited some more recent literature that critiqued it.
  • Douglas has to accept an extremely literalistic reading of some very arcane poetry in the Hodayot to reach his conclusions.
  • We know nothing about the opponents' view of the situation or how they would have described it.

Finally, there is the question of how reliable a source we should take the Pesharim to be for information on the Teacher of Righteousness. The pesharim often base their supposed historical descriptions very closely on the wording of scriptural passages, which should make us nervous. Judging by the usually accepted paleographic dates, the pesharim may well have been written long after the Hodayot. Indeed, the possibility has been raised by both Philip Davies and George Brooke that 1QpHab is actually dependent on the Hodayot. Note that 1QpHab 11.2-8 has some connection with 1QHa 12.7-12. Is this because they describe memories of the same event or because one is based on the other? If the latter, it seems a good bet that the Hodayot are the older of the two and the source of the pesher, in which case most of the supposed historical evidence for the activities of the Teacher of Righteousness evaporates.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Abstract: The Hodayot

This is the abstract for the seminar paper for this afternoon:
The Hodayot, found in Caves 1 and 4, have remained under scrutiny since 1QHa was first published in 1955. Many have sought to use these hymns as a viewing glass into the worship of the life of the Qumran community. However much that is assumed about the Hodayot is uncertain. This paper aims to unearth some of these assumptions and foundational ambiguities. Part I focuses upon authorship (often ascribed to the "Teacher of Righteousness"), and the ambiguous nature of the whole discussion. Both the nature of the text as poetic liturgy and of the content leaves no certainty of authorship. Moreover the Teacher of Righteousness is a more evasive figure than sometime portrayed. In particular the recent new data presented by Michael C. Douglas ("The Teacher Hymn Hypothesis Revisited," DSD 6 (1999): 239-66) are assessed. Douglas attempts to build up a block of material around a "signature phrase," which may be ascribes to an author (namely the Teacher of Righteousness). However, it will be argued that in this Douglas provides an argument for literary unity, not authorship. The assessment of Douglas's argument is crucial to acknowledge the limited information possessed at present. In this case, I believe, the scholarly position is in affirming the uncertainty of authorship. Part II moves to examine other possible means of understanding the hymns. This takes the form of studying the Hodayot as sectarian, theological and liturgical. In this, the more certain suppositions of literary genre and theology are affirmed to provide possible insights into the social situation. Meanwhile less certain suppositions of specific social situation and sectarian nature of the texts are presented as ambiguous. These questions are essential in understanding how much about the Qumran community can be know, and how much cannot. Through our study of the Hodayot we conclude that although much has been hypothesised, ambiguities remain and must be recognised.

Matthew J. Ford

After the seminar - probably sometime tomorrow - I'll post a summary of our discussion.

Cultural Icon Watch

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the archetypal chance manuscript find:
Life of Blues legend Dixie in his own words

Feb 28 2005

By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

TOMORROW is the 25th anniversary of Dixie Dean's death.


'Dixie Dean Uncut - The Greatest Story Ever Told', is a new book launched tomorrow, containing the most in-depth, meticulous interview Dean ever gave.

First published in the summer of 1970, the original transcript of the interviews was believed to have been lost forever.


Then former Echo Sports Editor Ken Rogers, now the Executive Editor of Trinity Sports Media, was researching the Echo archives fora book project last year, when he discovered the original manuscript - perfectly preserved.

"It was like finding the dead sea scrolls," he enthused.


Monday, February 28, 2005

Cultural Icon Watch

A column by Jack McLean in the Glasgow Herald uses the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Rosetta Stone as examples of robust ancient technology:
Talking of being dead, my computer has finally died. It was, for a computer, very elderly. There is something called a hard-drive or some such jargon which might be saved so that I can get the seven years of material on it but this might not be possible. There may be millions of words lost. New technology isn't a patch on the old one is it? I mean what with the Rosetta Stone and the Dead Sea Scrolls, well, computers are rubbish really.