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Liturgical Works (Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   338
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.24" Height: 0.96"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2001
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802843808  
EAN  9780802843807  


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Item Description...
Overview
Among the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are numerousfragments of liturgical texts: daily and festival prayers, songs and praises, and other fascinating documents. This inaugural volume in the Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls series explores these important ancient texts, throwing new light on the ritual life of Jews at the turn of the common era. Beginning with a general introduction to the Qumran library and Jewish liturgical traditions, James Davila situates the liturgical texts found at Qumran in their historical context in translation of these Hewbrew texts and provides detailed line-by-line explanations of each document. Throughout his book Davila shows how the Qumran liturgical texts draw on and develop traditions from the Hebrew Bible, and he explores their significance as background to Jewish liturgy, Jewish mysticism, and Christian origins. This volume and the complete commentary project will become the standard reference work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Publishers Description
Among the manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are numerous fragments of liturgical texts that shed light on the ritual life of Jews at the turn of the common era. This inaugural volume in the landmark Eerdmans Commentaries on the Dead Sea Scrolls series explores these important liturgical documents in depth.

Beginning with a general introduction to the Qumran library and Jewish liturgical traditions, James Davila situates the liturgical texts found at Qumran in their historical context in Second Temple Judaism. He then offers a reliable translation of these texts, including notes on the original Hebrew, and provides detailed line-by-line exegesis of each document. Throughout his commentary Davila shows how the Qumran liturgical texts draw on and develop traditions from the Hebrew Bible, and he explores their significance as background to the Jewish liturgy, Jewish mysticism, and Christian origins.

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More About James R. Davila

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Davila is Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews.

James R. Davila was born in 1960.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Holy Works...  May 30, 2003
I picked up this book, and discovered that it is the first in a planned series of a 16-volume commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is published (and the series is supported) by Eerdmans, a major publishing house in the area of theology, biblical studies, and religious topics. Each of these volumes will follow the pattern of combining expert commentary, translations, and critical notes for texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their goal is to have a line-by-line commentary for every translatable manuscript.

James R. Davila is a lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is part of the international team responsible for assembling, translating and publishing the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has published many of the Qumran manuscripts of Genesis and Exodus, and is an expert in early Jewish studies.

This book is an interesting first-in-the-series -- one might have expected something a bit more dramatic, or something biblical, or something apocalyptic, to grab the attention of readers with the first volume. Instead, we begin the series (despite the fact that this is, sequentially, volume no. six) with prayers and worship practices -- a fitting beginning to what promises to be a great series.

--Introduction--
The introduction provides a brief overview of the Qumran Library and the liturgical texts included in that collection. Discovered largely in the late-1940s to the 1960s (with the occasional discovery continuing to be made), the scrolls include many different kinds of writing -- biblical texts (transcribed and paraphrased), community instructions and rules, apocalyptic religious texts, psalms, hymns, and liturgical texts.

`The main criterion for inclusion [in this book] is that the text show evidence of composition for use in the ritual life of ancient Judaism, whether pertaining to the cycle of festivals and holy days, to daily prayer in various situations, to ceremonial purification, or rites of passage such as marriage.'

Certain key concepts are important in liturgical texts, and these include the ideas of cultic practice, maintenance of covenant relationship, and purity. By cultic practice, we mean any kind of worshipful rituals used in religious tradition. Covenant and purity were of considerable importance in the Torah and other early religious practices/writings, but these were brought to a heightened sense of importance by the community at Qumran.

Davila discusses the controversies surrounding the reconstruction of a sense of calendrical cycles of ancient Israel, as well as the impact of these texts and the practices that surround and incorporate them in later Jewish liturgies. Texts important for consideration here include the Mishnah, the Jerusalem Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud, Jewish liturgical poetry, and Hekhalot literature.

--Scrolls--
The Dead Sea Scroll texts covered in this book include:
- Festival Prayers
- Berakhot
- Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice
- Times for Praising God
- Grace after Meals
- A Lamentation
- A Wedding Ceremony
- Daily Prayers
- The Words of the Luminaries
- Purification Liturgies

Each of these major headings includes specific scrolls that have been identified (whole or partial) as liturgical texts. Most come from Cave 4 (Dead Sea Scrolls are usually defined by a code that begins with a Q-number, such as 4Q502, which indicates the location of discover and order of cataloging and organisation).

Each commentary begins with a brief introduction and overview of the specific contents. The scroll for the Wedding Ceremony is a controversial scroll: like many scrolls from Cave 4 and some other caves, it is in a state of disintegration that makes reading exceedingly difficult.

`It may be a wedding, or perhaps a rite for aged married couples entering the celibate sectarian community, or even an otherwise unattested New Year celebration. All three theories have been defended, and no doubt other solutions are possible.'

The commentary talks in the case of each text the condition of the manuscript -- in the case of 4Q502, it consists of 344 papyrus fragments. Many texts are in better repair; others sadly are in much worse shape. Each commentary also talks genre -- prayer, celebration, praise, etc. Each commentary concludes with a bibliography devoted to the specific text in question (there is no overall bibliography for the book, but rather a nice collection of thoroughly-research bibliographies for each major heading). Scroll research and analysis being what it is, it seems that each scroll has had lots of publications; the Eerdmans series seems to be good at separating the wheat from the chaff in the bibliographic references.

The line-by-line commentaries sometimes turn into word-by-word commentaries, as there are so many small fragments that contain but a few letters each, and even when there are longer passages, multiple translations and meanings are possible. These sections are wonderful for their broad range to permit the reader to see the different possibilities and come up with alternative translations parallel to those recommended by scholars.

--Indexes--
For the scholar the four indexes contain a wealth of information. Divided into four sections -- Modern Authors; Scripture References; Dead Sea Scrolls; Other Ancient Writings -- these indexes provide a very handy way of looking up particular references (and those who have followed by reviews know that one of my pet peeves is the lack of an index in a book) whether one is starting from the basis of other scroll research, other authors, biblical studies, or more general ancient writings. With over 40 pages of indexes, this book gets an A+ for indexing.

 

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