Volume 6B in The Dead Sea Scrolls section of The Princeton Theological Seminary Dead Sea Scrolls Project offers the reader an assortment of texts that could be included under the rubric of scriptural interpretation. Ten editors have divided up the work of presenting some thirty-five texts. Following the prefatory items that are standard in the series, the texts themselves are organized under three headings. Each presentation of a text includes a brief introduction, bibliography, and the original text facing an English translation. Short notes are located beneath both the text and the translation.
The first section is called “Pesharim” and occupies the bulk of the volume. M. Horgan, author of the admirable Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books (CBQMS 8; Washington, D.C., 1979), has contributed the treatments of seventeen pesharim (Charlesworth and C. Elledge add an edition of the fourteen battered fragments that have been labeled 4Q172 = 4QpUnid). Naturally the texts and translations of the pesharim are very much like the ones in Horgan’s earlier work, although the photographs have again been checked and the translations edited to conform with the style used in this series. It is understandable that such overlap would exist because Horgan’s earlier work was excellent, but the short bibliographies really should have been updated more than they have been (one does not find more recent bibliography until the edition of 4QpHosa, the tenth text treated). Also, it is surprising that Bilhah Nitzan’s monograph on Pesher Habakkuk is not listed in the bibliography. For some reason, the pesharim are ordered, not by cave and text number, but by the sequence of books in English Bibles. As a result, though they are last among the identified pesharim in the listing of Qumran texts, the Psalms pesharim come first in this publication.
The second section of texts is entitled “Other Commentaries.” Here one finds editions of Commentary on Genesis A-D, Commentary on Malachi A-B, Florilegium, Melchizedek, Exposition on the Patriarchs, and Catena A. It is interesting that Florilegium (4Q174) and Catena A (4Q177) are presented separately. L. Novakovic, who contributed the short introduction to 4Q177, considers A. Steudel’s thesis that the two are from the same work to be inconclusive, while J. Milgrom does not mention the issue in his introduction to 4Q174 (though Steudel is referenced in the textual notes).
The third and final text section is named “Related Documents.” In it are collected editions of a series of badly preserved works that may also be categorized as interpretive. They are Catena B, Testimonia, Consolation, a single fragment that Charlesworth and Elledge call Midwives to Pharaoh Fragment (= 4Q464a), the unidentified 4Q464b, 4Q183 (Pesher-like Fragment), and “House of Stumbling Fragment” (4Q173 frg. 5 whose script implies it does not belong with the other four fragments of 4QpPsb to which it was once assigned).
Following the three text sections there are two others. Elledge has compiled a helpful appendix which contains “A Graphic Index of Citation and Commentary Formulae in the Dead Sea Scrolls” (apparently the word “graphic” means that the Graphic Concordance of the series was one source used). The second offers a list of the Qumran text numbers with their names and the volume in the series in which they appear, followed by a listing of the same items organized by text names.
Users will find the volume to be a convenient place to access a sizable number of important texts and large amounts of information, especially textual, about them (there is some curious Hebrew, however, e.g., n. 5 on p. 242). It is a pity that photographs could not be included in each volume; the result is that for exact work one will have to consult the relevant editions in the DJD series. The editors must have had some freedom in writing the introductions to the individual texts. Not all of them contain the same headings, and in some cases very poorly preserved fragments receive longer introductions than works for which much more is available (the introduction for Exposition on the Patriarchs is longer than that for Melchizedek). Perhaps the editor could consider one graphic improvement. The original text on the lefthand page and the translation on the righthand page are not aligned, so that the original text is often higher on the page than the translation. It seems this problem could be solved easily.