Review of Schiffman, Lawrence H. “Temple Scroll.”

Schiffman, Lawrence H. “Temple Scroll.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 6:348-50. 6 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
[Israel/Qumran/Temple Scroll]

In encyclopedic form the article deals with the discovery, description, paleography, contents, sources, dating, and relation of the scroll to other Qumran documents. Regarding the contents, the scroll’s evident purpose was “to provide a system of law for the pre-messianic temple.” In addition to the Torah laws relating to the temple it concluded with “the laws of consanguineous marriage”! The largest “non-Pentateuch section” deals with regulating the law of the king. “It emphasizes the separation of roles of the high priest and king….” The author summarizes the scroll’s contents this way. “The scroll does not simply recapitulate the prescriptions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It collects together the various pentateuchal (and sometimes prophetic) material relevant to the issue at hand and weaves together a unified, consistent text. In this respect it can be said that the text redacts the Torah, combining all materials on a single topic together.” It uses a distinct form of midrash-like exegesis “to reconcile the differences between the various pentateuchal texts so as to create a unified and consistent whole.” It contains extensive passages which are not based on canonical Scripture. The architecture of the temple differs from the Biblical accounts. Most interesting is its extension of a third courtyard so large as to encompass the entire city of Jerusalem. The sacrificial festival calendar includes several festivals which are not part of the Biblica or rabbinic cycle. “Extensive laws deal with the sacrificial procedure and ritual purity and impurity. Here we see a general tendency to provide additional ways to protect the sanctuary from impurity.” Those dealing with the date of the scroll generally assign it to the Hasmonean period, indeed being something of a critique of that period, “desiring to replace it with a temple, sacrificial system, and government which was … the embodiment of the legislation of the torah.” Continued studies are leading to the belief that the scroll may have stemmed from forerunners of the Sadducean sect.

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