A Tale of Two Scribes: Encounters with an Avant-Garde Manuscript of the Community Rules (4Q259)

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This paper offers a fresh analysis of an intriguing avant-garde manuscript of the Rules of the Community (4Q259) from Qumran Cave 4. We suggest that this manuscript served as a Vorlage consulted by the scribe of the best-preserved copy of the Rules from Cave 1 (1QS). This suggestion is based on a series of graphic resemblances where the text of this manuscript differs from 1QS. The script of 4Q259 dates from the second half of the second century BCE, and a particularly curious feature is the preservation of two short phrases (“in Israel” and “the people of [injustice]”) in cryptic script in 4Q259 3:3-4. The remarkable scribal hand of 4Q259 is idiosyncratic, and the scroll is inscribed on crude and thick anima skin. This contrasts the presence of features such as the use of cryptic script alongside a substantial calendrical anthology. The cumulative evidence suggests that this early manuscript and distinctive copy of the Rules of the Community is one of the most remarkable scrolls to have been deposited at Qumran.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHokhmat Sopher
Subtitle of host publicationMélanges offerts au Professeur Émile Puech en l’honneur de son quatre-vingtième anniversaire
EditorsJean-Sebastien Rey, Martin Staszak
Place of PublicationLeuven
PublisherPeeters Publishers
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789042945760
ISBN (Print)9789042945753
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameEtudes Bibliques N.S.


  • Qumran
  • Community Rule
  • Dead Sea Scrolls


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