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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

The Era of Qumran

Our knowledge of the early history of the transmission of the Bible was greatly expanded with the discoveries in the mid‐20th century in the Judean Desert (Qumran and other sites) of Bible manuscripts ranging from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE (and beyond); there are no extant manuscripts before this era, though some manuscripts predate the actual Qumran community. (See “The Bible in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” pp. 1920–28.) All the books of the Bible (except Esther) were found, typically in fragmentary manuscripts, with the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Psalms most frequently represented. These discoveries caused a reex‐ amination and reevaluation of other early witnesses of the biblical text, such as the text of the Septuagint (LXX; the Greek translation of the Bible) and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Hebrew variants which had been surmised on the basis of the Greek in LXX were now shown to have actually existed. Many scholars tried to categorize the Qumran material in its relationship to these known versions, as well as to the current standard Bible text, MT (Masoretic Text). Some noted that the Qumran material does not always fit into the categories of the previously known witnesses. The Qumran era reflects a multiplicity of texts (i.e., of variants), with witnesses for all three of the previously known text‐types (MT [at that time: the proto‐Masoretic text‐type, which seems to have beenthe dominant text‐type then, and which later attained exclusivity among the Hebrew texts], LXX, SP), as well as other previously unknown variants. It is this era that preserves substantial variants in the reading of a word, a phrase, a verse, or larger units.

Notwithstanding the multiplicity of texts, it seems that within the Jerusalem Temple circles there was a clear preference for the one textual tradition that we call the proto‐Masoretic text‐type (because of its close affinities to the later Masoretic Bibles). Thus, the consonantal text of fragments of biblical manuscripts found at Masada (brought there by the fighters) conform closely to MT. Some rabbinic evidence may substantiate this conclusion (see y. Taʾan. 4:2 [fol. 68a] and b. Ketub. 106a).

The current text of the Bible (MT) preserves evidence of variant texts from an early period. This can be seen especially in the transmission of parallel texts in the Bible, which preserve early variants of the same text (e.g., in the list of names of David's warriors [2 Sam. 23.8 ff.; 1 Chron. 11.11 ff.], or in various parallel psalms [e.g., Pss. 14Á53 ]). Another phenomenon that preserves early variants is “double readings,” where two variants appear consecutively in the text (e.g., 1 Sam. 28.3 , lit. “they buried him in Ramah and in his city”); this phenomenon also occurs in LXX and the Aramaic Targumim.

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