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Textos de Qumran.

Professor Garcia Martinez has been entirely succesful in his plan to provide for Spanish readers the same kind of elegant and accurate rendering of the non-biblical texts from Qumran as Geza Vermes has given to English-speaking scholars. Like Vermes, he prefaces his edition and translations with an informative introduction. This tells again, and in some detail, the extraordinary story of the discovery of the manuscripts, a story which even now remains in some details obscure. Thus he is concerned to demonstrate the antiquity of the texts, which is confirmed by palaeographical studies and Carbon 14 dating, the most recent results of which he sets out in summary.

The origins and history of the Qumran group are then conveniently set out, with supporting evidence, according to the views of the so-called |Groningen School', of which Garcia Martinez is a founder member. This school argues, inter alia, that the Qumran community came into existence under the leadership of the Teacher of Righteousness as a splinter group, which had broken away sometime in the mid-second century BCE from the larger parent group of Essenes. The origins of the latter are to be sought in the apocalyptic groups which were a feature of Judaism from the third century BCE onwards. Since these are matters hotly contended among Qumran experts, it is particularly helpful to have the views of the Groningen school set out so succinctly and clearly.

The translated texts are given next, grouped in eight sections. All texts available in 1991, with the exception of the most tiny fragments, are published: lacunae, suggested readings, additions for the sake of style and clarity, and all editorial items are clearly marked according to simple and straightforward conventions. The major Qumran Rules stand first, followed by a chapter devoted to halakhic texts. Then come the eschatological works, followed by two chapters devoted to exegetical and extra-biblical writings respectively. Poetic compositions and liturgical works furnish the next two categories, and the translations are completed with the astronomical texts (including the horoscopes and calendrical material), and a separate chapter devoted to the enigmatic copper scroll.

Finally, Garcia Martinez has greatly enhanced the value of this book with a complete catalogue of all the material available to him in 1991, including biblical manuscripts, as found in each individual cave. The conventional sigla of the texts, along with their usual common names (when these exist) are given along with full bibliographical details of the critical edition of the original. The catalogue is a fitting conclusion to a first-rate work of scholarship which merits use far beyond the Spanish-speaking world for which it is primarily intended.

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Author:Hayward, Robert
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1994
Previous Article:Qumran Cave 4, vol. 4, Palaeo-Hebrew and Greek Biblical Manuscripts.
Next Article:Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

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