Reviews of 'The Qumran Rule Texts in Context'

Ever since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the movement’s Rule Texts have intrigued the imagination and are often considered a direct channel to life at Khirbet Qumran – an ancient version of ‘reality TV.’

The Qumran Rule Texts

More recently scholars have increasingly come to recognize the significance of the Scrolls as a rich text world from a period when texts and their interpretation laid the foundations of western civilisation. Charlotte Hempel offers a close reading of the Qumran Rule Texts as significant milestones in the scribal landscape of antiquity from the time and place when ancient Jewish scribes where crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of the emerging Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. For a number of recent reviews see below.

Revue de Qumran — 26 (2014), S. 483–485 (John J. Collins)

“This impressive volume brings together 17 essays published over 17 years (1996 to 2012) and supplements them with one previously unpublished essay and an Introduction. […] As collections of essays go, this one is exceptionally coherent. […] It is impossible here to do justice to the wealth of interesting details raised in all these essays. Especially interesting […] are the reflections on the lessons that might be drawn from the textual variety of the Scrolls for the study of the Hebrew Scriptures. […] This review has singled out a few issues where Hempel represents a distinctive voice in the current debate, and suggested what some of the alternatives to her position might be. None of these issues are simple matters of right and wrong. Positions that are debatable are often the most stimulating and fruitful for advancing the discussion. There is a wealth of such positions here. One does not have to share all of Hempel’s conclusions to benefit from her exceptionally close reading of the texts.”

Journal for the Study of Judaism — 46 (2015), S. 443–445 (Ian Werrett)

“In truth, Hempel’s volume is as much a commentary on the development, similarities, and differences between the Rule texts as it is an observation on the state and direction of Qumran Studies. Much has been made in recent years of the danger in using the words ‘Bible’ and ‘Scripture’ when talking about the emerging biblical tradition witnessed at Qumran, and rightfully so, but this book continues to push the envelope by asking us to abandon even more preconceived notions about the scribal practices and literary attitudes of Second Temple Judaism.”

Theologische Literaturzeitung — 139 (2014), S. 1428–1430 (Peter Porzig)

“There is no need to emphasize again the significance and quality of the studies. It is hardly possible or desirable to step back from many insights offered here. […] The evident pleasure in the study of the texts on the part of the author is equally a pleasure for her readers and is infectious.” (translated from the German) 

Expository Times — 127 (2016) (Anja Klein)

“While collected volumes often carry the risk of amounting to nothing more than a mere bouquet of loosely related studies, Hempel succeeds in submitting a beautiful collection that is thoughtfully arranged to demonstrate how the focus on the Qumran materials as scribal literature opens up new insights on the field and enhances our understanding of the Second Temple period.”

Journal of Jewish Studies – 68 (2017),184-186 (Hindy Najman)

Charlotte Hempel has written a groundbreaking book on the Rule Texts discovered amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The collection of essays is woven together seamlessly to construct a dynamic and compelling monograph on the importance of the Rule Texts for the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew Bible and Judaism during the Second Temple Period.  The broad implications for book are manifold. The volume is notable for its philological rigour and textual sophistication. […] Hempel is very clear from the outset of the book about the ambition of the volume which engages with some of the most important issues for Dead Sea Scrolls research and reopens important questions about the community behind the Scrolls, the composition, and their complex and dynamic relationship with biblical texts. Moreover, Hempel is thorough and generous in her engagement with English, European and Israeli scholarship on the Rule Texts.

Salesianum — 76 (2014), S. 736–737 (Rafael Vicent)

Studia Biblica Athanasiana — 15 (2014), S. 124–125 (Geza Xeravits)

New Testament Abstracts — 58 (2014), S. 625