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).
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?
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.
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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