BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Aramaic Memories of Daniel Recovered from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Shorts, Episode 6

Daniel is unique in the Hebrew Scriptures for several reasons.

The book is a linguistic hybrid of Aramaic and Hebrew. Its collection of court tales and apocalypses are saturated in dream-visions. The story is set in the days of the Babylonian court. The scribal convergence of these traditions likely took place in the mid-Second Temple period.

Yet all of these features that make Daniel, at first, out of step with most other books of the Hebrew Scriptures make it an ideal fit within ancient Jewish Aramaic literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This set of literature too comes from scribal cultures of the Second Temple era. Many of its scenes feature apocalyptic outlooks and revelations. The tales told are often set in the recent exilic past. In some cases, we also find evidence of the rare linguistic exchange between Aramaic and Hebrew, as in the Aramaic Job (11Q20) or translated Hebrew Tobit (4Q200).


What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Why are they so important to our understanding of the Bible, Christianity and Judaism? In our free eBook The Dead Sea Scrolls: Discovery and Meaning, find out what the scrolls tell us about the Bible, Christianity and Judaism.

The Qumran Aramaic collection, however, revealed a yet unknown and broader profile of the figure of Daniel in several works. While we were familiar with other Daniel traditions from the so-called “Additions” in the Septuagint, Cave Four included at least two new works that cast a Daniel in new settings and associate him with fresh revelations.

These so-called Pseudo-Daniel fragments help us see that Daniel’s persona in ancient Judaism extended well beyond the twelve-chapter book received in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.

In this episode of Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Shorts, we dive into these Cave Four fragments and re-introduce ourselves to Daniel. In a way, this figure is familiar yet we have the opportunity to encounter him a literary space that was, until recently, foreign to us. So what did ancients know about Daniel that we did not?

The full episode is now available online at https://youtu.be/yTZYrCImpU4. Be sure to subscribe to Dr. Andrew Perrin’s YouTube channel and subscribe to Bible History Daily for news of future episodes.

To take your study of the Pseudo Daniel fragments further, be sure to download Dr. Perrin’s article on the memory of Daniel at Qumran included in the open-access volume Vision, Narrative, and Wisdom in the Aramaic Texts from Qumran.

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Andrew PerrinDr. Andrew Perrin is Canada Research Chair in Religious Identities of Ancient Judaism and Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. His work on the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls has won the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise and the David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship. For more on his work, connect on Twitter and Instagram (@ab_perrin) and the website www.andrewperrin.com.


Related reading by Dr. Andrew Perrin in Bible History Daily:

 

The Aramaic Afterlives of Genesis’s Giants The mention of giants before the flood in Genesis 6:4 has been both a source of imagination and interpretation down through the centuries. This curious passage, however, was the departure point for Aramaic exegesis that answered the question of the origins and end of all evil.

What is Pseudepigraphy and How Did It Shape Scripture? There are many voices in scripture, yet seldom do we hear that of scribes. One strategy ancient Jewish scribes used to transmit and create works was the practice of pseudepigraphy. What was it, how did it work, and why did it breathe new life into overlooked biblical characters?

Aramaic Biographies of Angels and Demons Part of the challenge and opportunity of studying the Bible is that, while it often feels familiar, it comes from a foreign context. The texts and traditions of scripture come from ancient cultures, people, places, and even languages that are lost to most modern minds.



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1 Responses

  1. wes says:

    One day while listening to a lecture on ancient historians, I was startled by the observation of the lecturer that Thucydides and other Greeks ( Herodotus) repeatedly referred to their 5th century BC opponents as Medes. My first glance at “Penguin” and similar paperback translations, I could not see what was meant. But I looked further and found, in other translations and original texts about 50 references to the Medes in Thucydides. And the one that was most telling was that the Athenians were convinced that they they had defeated “the Medes” at the Battle of Marathon. I leave it to the reader to deduce who was their king. See also the transition from chapter five to six in Daniel.

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1 Responses

  1. wes says:

    One day while listening to a lecture on ancient historians, I was startled by the observation of the lecturer that Thucydides and other Greeks ( Herodotus) repeatedly referred to their 5th century BC opponents as Medes. My first glance at “Penguin” and similar paperback translations, I could not see what was meant. But I looked further and found, in other translations and original texts about 50 references to the Medes in Thucydides. And the one that was most telling was that the Athenians were convinced that they they had defeated “the Medes” at the Battle of Marathon. I leave it to the reader to deduce who was their king. See also the transition from chapter five to six in Daniel.

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