Dead Sea Scrolls through the layman’s glasses – 2

I am well aware that raising the right questions is the way forward if you want to expand your horizon.

So here they are, my ever-expanding list of questions/points of interest as soon as they are born, fresh, straight out from the oven:

(Note: I shall be going through the pages of “The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English: Complete Edition” written by Geza Vermes just to have a starting point for my information on the subject and inspiration for my questions)


How comes that Hebrew religious writings dated back thousand of years cannot be found nearly at all?

A1 (attempted answer 1):


The relatively late date of our oldest extant Hebrew manuscripts is bound up with the
veneration with which copies of Holy Scripture were regarded by the Rabbis. When these
were too old and worn to be of further use for reading, they were reverently interred. It was
thought better that they should receive honourable burial than that the name of God inscribed
upon them should run the risk of being profaned by unworthy use of the material. Before they
were buried, however, they were laid aside for a time in a geniza―a store-room attached to
the synagogue where documents no longer in use were stored or hidden (the word literally
means “hiding-place”).
One of these genizoth, by a happy chance, continued to house its literary contents for
hundreds of years, until they were discovered and made accessible to Hebrew scholars in the
closing decades of last century. This was the geniza of the Old Cairo synagogue, which
formed the subject of Dr. Paul Kahle’s fascinating Schweich lectures for 1941.8


What was the reason there is no real name assigned to the alleged founder of the Qumran community, The Teacher of Righteousness and to his persecutor The Wicked Priest?


Sarah Klitenic

here an explanation which does not meet the author’s approval

By reconstructing a seven year gap in history, some attempt to show how the Teacher could have been the designated high priest until his exile. After the High Priest Alkimos dies in 159 B.C, no High Priest has been attested in literature of the period as having taken his place.33 Josephus,34 however, explains that an intersacerdotium lasted seven years until Jonathan usurped power in 152 B.C. Because a High Priest is necessary to lead Yom Kippur Services, someone must have filled the role of High Priest, at least temporarily.35  J. Murphy-O’Connor speculates that his man may have introduced unpopular reforms so that when his position is usurped by Jonathan in 152, he is driven into the desert where he goes only by the title ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ so as not to draw attention to his identity

and her conclusion:

Although we cannot say a great deal concerning the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we are able to paint a general portrait of this Teacher. Based on references to the Teacher throughout the Scrolls, we learn that he is a priest and the interpreter of the Law. Moreover, by reading the pesherim, or interpretations of the Law, and the Hodayot actually written by the Teacher, it becomes clear that the Teacher is a prophet whose mode of revelation is divine interpretation of scripture. Within this mold, the Teacher has a role in both the Community’s past and future: he is a figure of the Community’s past as its founder, but his interpretation of the Law helps order society in anticipation for the two Messiahs and the eschaton.

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