2. Who Wrote the Old Testament and How?
Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
Here, we look at the people and processes that created the individual Jewish scriptures. We start with the processes because these point us to the authors. This includes not only initial composition or collection, but copying and recopying that always involved redrafting. (Only after these writings became ‘sacred scriptures’ were they retained in a fixed form.) The frequency and extent of these re-draftings can be deduced by comparing the surviving Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and analysing their structure and language. Such processes can also be directly observed within the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of biblical and non-biblical Jewish manuscripts, mostly in Hebrew, dating from the third century bce to the first century ce. Among these writings we find multiple copies of the same composition preserved together, demonstrating how rapidly and frequently texts could sometimes evolve.