Home > Archaeology, History, Qumran, Study of the Old Testament > The Pesher Nahum Scroll from Qumran: An Exegetical Study of 4Q169

The Pesher Nahum Scroll from Qumran: An Exegetical Study of 4Q169

  • Series: S~ on the T~ of the D~ of Judah
  • Author: Shani L. Berrin
  • Publisher: B~ (2004)
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 374
  • ISBN-10: 9004124845
  • ISBN-13: 9789004124844
  • Format: PDF

This volume investigates the layers of meaning of the Qumran community’s liturgical practice as prayer (communication with the divine), ritual (actions that establish and reinforce the social and ideological structures of the community), and speech (containing both verbal and non-verbal communication). After a chapter on the social and ideological structures of the Qumran community, each successive chapter covers a different type of liturgy: Rites of Passage, Feasts and Fasts, Calendrical Rites, Rites of Affliction, Political Rites, and Rites of Communion. Each chapter presents the evidence for each practice and the social implications of the practice, especially with respect to community identity.

In Pesher Nahum, one of the “continuous pesharim” from Qumran, successive verses from the biblical book of Nahum are interpreted as reflecting historical realities of the 1st century BCE. This composition is a significant source of data for a number of areas of inquiry within Qumran studies including history, exegesis, halakha, theology, and the transmission of biblical text. Pesher Nahum is preserved in a single copy, 4Q169 (4QpNah). The editio princeps was published by John Marco Allegro in 1968, in DJD vol. V. A number of revisions to Allegro’s readings and restorations were put forth by John Strugnell in his detailed critique of the DJD volume.  Maurya P. Horgan incorporated many of these revisions, and supplemented them, in her 1979 edition of the work, which appeared as part of her general study on the continuous pesharim. Subsequent scholarship on 4Q169 frequently appeared within similar collections, and in-depth analyses of the work tended to be restricted to the particular column featuring the “Lion of Wrath” (3–4 I). A comprehensive and systematic treatment of Pesher Nahum, in the order of Bilhah Nitzan’s 1986 edition of Pesher Habakkuk, remained a desideratum for some time.

As the twentieth century drew to a close, and the publication of the Qumran corpus approached completion, Pesher Nahum was to receive the attention it deserved. Unbeknownst to each other, Gregory Doudna and myself each set out to produce Ph.D. theses devoted to 4Q169.

When each of us later learned of the other’s work, we determined to continue our respective projects independently, later exchanging copies of our penultimate drafts. Doudna’s dissertation has been published in book form as 4Q Pesher Nahum: A Critical Edition. The most significant similarity in our approaches is structural. Specifically, our presentations highlight the framework of 4QpNah as a series of lemma/pesher “units.” One of the more significant methodological differences in our works is Doudna’s objective of achieving maximal reconstruction of the text of 4QpNah. My own approach has favored minimal reconstruction, emphasizing literary analysis, and particularly “lemma/pesher correspondence.” The aim of the current work is to provide a systematic analysis of Pesher Nahum, with a stress on such correspondence. This edition includes a transcription of the full text of the pesher and an English translation as well as textual notes, readings, and restorations. These textual data provide the basis for the historical and literary/exegetical analyses of the text.

Throughout our analyses, we have attempted to minimize the discussion of alternative readings and of earlier scholarly opinions that have not been incorporated into this edition. To further simplify presentation and avoid undue repetition, the principal secondary sources pertaining to 4QPesher Nahum are cited in abbreviated form. Except as noted, the following sources are cited by author’s name alone. Note that publications dated before 1961 contain only 4QpNah 3–4 I. Most subsequent transcriptions and translations present all four columns of frags 3–4. Most works published after the editio princeps in 1968 include frags 1–2 as well.

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