Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 10:2 (2000) p. 311
The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible. By Eugene Ulrich. Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans / Leiden: Brill, 1999. Pp. xvii + 309. ISBN 90-04-11493-9.
It is to the credit of the series editors, Peter W. Flint and Martin G. Abegg, Jr., that Ulrich’s challenging essays appear in a single volume. The compilation consists of fourteen articles, published between 1980 and 1997. The arrangement of the articles is by subject under two subdivisions: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hebrew Bible; and The Scrolls, the Septuagint, and the Old Latin. The first part of the volume challenges the traditional separation of literary and textual criticism and raises the theological issues of the definition of Scripture and canonicity. In the second part, Ulrich argues from the evidence of the Old Greek and the Old Latin that the status of the proto-Masoretic text type grew together with the need to define the limits of Scripture.
Ulrich interacts with the theories on text groups proposed by Cross, Talmon, and Tov, develops his own definition of terminology of text family, type, tradition, and group (p. 95), and proposes a methodology for testing these definitions. Ulrich contends that the textual variety at Qumran is typical of Judaism at large. Not all of the scribes, he argues, copied the texts. He holds that “the ancient Hebrew text … was in fact a developing text, not a static, fixed text” (p. 114), and that the Scriptures of each community consisted of individual scrolls, whose text type differed from book to book. Ulrich follows Sanders’s “resignification” of the tradition as a framework for interpreting the evidence. The process of adding explanatory comments or incorporating changes into the text began at the outset of the Qumran community (3d century bce) and must have continued into the beginning of the second century ce. Ulrich holds that Roman power and the strain in Christian and Jewish relations led to the fixation of the text.
For Ulrich, the purpose of textual criticism is the study of “the organic, developing, pluriform Hebrew text” for each book of the OT (p. 15). Thus, he broadens the usual definition of textual criticism to include the reconstruction of the literary composition. He defines textual criticism as the discipline that occupies itself with the reconstruction of all aspects of the literary transmission of a text: textual development as well as the process of transmission. Consequently, Ulrich argues that modern translations of the OT should consider the diversity of evidence and not follow the MT exclusively. Thus, Ulrich is appreciative of the NRSV, which has incorporated a paragraph from Qumran between You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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