Comparing: Dead Sea Scrolls / Samaritan

The Dead Sea Scrolls and Samaritan Literature

The Samaritan Pentateuch is connected to a Second Temple literary milieu, apart from which our understanding of the biblical tradition itself can only be partial and incomplete ... Since the last quarter of the twentieth century, the scrolls from Qumran have significantly impacted scholarly discussion on the development and history of the biblical texts, as well as the scribal practices behind their production. Eugene Ulrich, noting that the Dead Sea Scrolls have “revolutionized our understanding of the text of the Bible in antiquity,” suggests that the materials from Qumran should be viewed as representative rather than idiosyncratic. This seems to be a safe assumption, for the general consensus is that the Qumran texts represent a collection of literary materials gathered from throughout Palestine, and so reflect more broadly than just on the Qumran literati.

The textual tradition that eventually became the Samaritan Pentateuch was one “form of the biblical text as it existed in antiquity,” a form that was shaped by at least some of the scribal practices that contributed to the early formation of the “textus receptus.” In Ulrich’s words, “4QpaleoExodm and 4QNumb [two of the widely recognized “pre-Samaritan” texts representing a textual tradition from which the Samaritan Pentateuch derived] have demonstrated that the text adopted by the Samaritans was simply one of the available forms of the Pentateuch circulating in broader Judaism in the Second Temple period.”