Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 11 (2011) - Review

Schiffman, Lawrence, The Courtyards of the House of the Lord: Studies in the Temple Scroll (STDJ, 75; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008). Pp. xxxvi+610. Hardcover. US$199.00. ISBN 9789004122550.

The Courtyards of the House of the Lord: Studies in the Temple Scroll presents virtually the complete oeuvre of Lawrence H. Schiffman on The Temple Scroll. Until now these thirty-three articles were scattered across myriad academic journals and collections; with this publication the cumulative effect of his work can be appreciated within the covers of a single book. In some respects these read like a history of the study of the scroll, spanning the period following the publication of Y. Yadin's English edition of the manuscript until 2002.

Schiffman's introduction to this collection brings his work up to the present as he is able to lay out the main premises of his interpretation of the scroll, as well as to offer an overview of the theology of The Temple Scroll. The articles are presented in a practical, thematic order: first, the nature of the scroll as a whole; second, its relation to the context of other writings of the Second Temple period; the final four sections examining the content—the commands for the construction of the Temple; the exegetical significance of the sections on sacrifice, purity regulations, and halakhot of the Deuteronomic Paraphrase.

Schiffman wrote many of these articles for conferences or for collections on other themes, which means that sometimes he approaches the scroll somewhat obliquely. This is most noticeable in the comparison of the scroll to other Jewish literature and in the particular halakhot chosen for examination. This factor also leads, by nature, to repetition of basic introductory information in each article for readers previously unfamiliar with the nature of the scroll. While the latter could be irritating, it is not a fatal flaw and has the cumulative result of making Schiffman's viewpoints emphatically clear.

Part One, “The Temple Scroll,” establishes key matters regarding the scroll as a whole, primarily concerning date and provenance. Schiffman dates the fully redacted scroll to the reign of John Hyrcanus, some time after 120 BCE. The key for dating is found in the Law of the King (cols. 56–59), which can be seen as a polemic in opposition to the increasing wealth and aggressive warfare of the Hasmoneans under Hyrcanus. Provisions to prevent the king being captured point back to the kidnapping of Jonathan, and requirements for an Israel-only army to Hyrcanus' use of foreign mercenaries to fight his wars.

Thus, the scroll is more than a thorough-going critique of the Hasmonean order. The placement of the Law of the King within the larger composition is a call for a complete re-organisation of kingship, temple, and ritual life for the whole nation.

Who is behind this masterplan and where did it come from? Schiffman has been consistent in distancing the scroll from the Qumran corpus. In his view it is not a sectarian document, but it “may have emerged” (note the scholarly caution, p. xx) from a similar, possibly earlier, group. In short, the sources of the scroll are Sadducean.

Schiffman makes a case for this view in a variety of ways. The earliest article to address this (“The Law of the Temple Scroll and its Provenance,” 1988, now Chapter One) simply stated that the case for the Sadducees had yet to be investigated, but noted a shared rejection of oral tradition (p. 6). It is in the comparison of this scroll to 4QMMT (Miqṣat Maʿaśe ha-Torah) in 1990 (republished here as Chapter Eight) that the case is first made in any detail. In a careful comparison of halachic issues the two scrolls are shown to coincide in most matters with only minor disagreements. At the same time, 4QMMT is shown to take positions previously known from tannaitic literature as Sadducean. This leads to the scenario that the Qumran sect was formed by disaffected Zadokite priests following the assumption by the Hasmoneans of the high priesthood.

Schiffman is always careful to present these ideas in the most cautious of language, even in his summary treatment in the Introduction (a contrast to many popularisers of Qumran studies). The “sources” of the Temple Scroll derive from “the Sadducean heritage” of those who founded the Yaḥad. Indeed, there is nothing revolutionary in finding the sources of the Qumran/Dead Sea sect in Zadokite circles of the early Hasmonean period. But Schiffman's use of the upper case “S” for “Sadducee” places his proposal apart. This identifies the sectarian origins with what becomes the party known, via Josephus and the New Testament, as the priestly opponents of the Pharisees. The problem is that, in both these sources, the Sadducees post-date the supposed withdrawal of the sectaries, and are part of the Temple establishment. How do documents of the hyper-establishment Sadducees end up in the library of the hyper-anti-establishment Zadokites?

Implicit in Schiffman's carefully-worded proposal is the notion that there is a common background to the previously known Sadducees and the dissenters of Qumran. This is not far different from the “consensus,” so it would seem sensible to call these people “Zadokites”—with reference to the pre-Maccabean Temple group. In this case, we can suggest that divisions arose over the response to the Hasmonean ascendancy—and other factors not related to the Hasmoneans—with one part remaining within the hierarchy, and another faction withdrawing.

A clue to the identity and provenance of the common Zadokite forebears of both groups can be found in the Temple Scroll. Schiffman dismisses my proposal that 1 Chronicles 28 serves as the outline for the Temple Scroll's discussion of the construction of the future temple (p. 251), and is silent about my argument that concerns for Levitical issues share much with Chronicler's language (e.g., against priestly prerogatives in col. 20, where Levites receive a share of the šĕlamim, see p. 374).[1] If some of the sources of the Temple Scroll predate the Antiochene crisis, as is likely, they share an exegetical method that can be considered pro-levitical as much as Zadokite-priestly. These sources reflect debates on purity and sacrificial practice within priestly circles prior to the Maccabean revolt. Part of the vision of the author/redactor of the final form of the scroll includes a shift from power in the hands of the priests alone, but shared by the Levites (cf. 57:11–15, where they are to make up a third of the king's council). It is reasonable, then, to suggest the scenario that the scroll authors represent a Zadokite faction which separated from the establishment Zadokites, who became the Sadducees of the Hyrcanus period. The Temple Scroll, viewed alongside 4QMMT, may then be considered as a last effort to persuade the Hasmonean rulers of their own manifesto.

More significant than the specific provenance of the scroll is the identification of its genre. In his Introduction, Schiffman says that the scroll “presents itself as a rewritten Torah” (p. xx). From its beginning in Exodus 34, the scroll follows the order of the canonical Torah (meaning Exodus–Numbers) to expound its views of Temple, land, and people. All pertinent material is gathered together at the first occurrence of a topic, so “harmonistic” in Midrashic fashion, to create a consistent whole. Then, laws from Deuteronomy are appended to give the appearance of a complete body of law. Occasional passages not based on the canonical Scripture reveal the exegetical approach of the author(s), thus giving us our understanding of the context of the writers.

Schiffman defines this genre more narrowly in Chapter Ten. Accepting M. Goshen-Gottstein's term for the scroll as “halakhic pseudepigraphon,” he refines it to “divine halakhic pseudepigraphon”, and—as such—a “stand alone” literary product. Moses is not the mediator of this Torah, it comes directly from God to Israel. This is important because, along with Jubilees, the scroll presents a one-time revelation at Sinai in which this text was revealed (p. 170).

It is possible to dissent from some aspects of this presentation. For example, the fact that the Festival Calendar (Leviticus 23/Numbers 28) precedes the Purity Law (Leviticus 11–15/Numbers 19) in the biblical Torah runs counter to the contention that the scroll follows the canonical occurrence of topics. But the character of the scroll as “divinely revealed,” thus authoritative like Scripture, while also interpretative of Scripture, is an assured result.

This is not to infer one author at work in the scroll. In Chapter One Schiffman clarifies that although there was one author/editor of the Temple Scroll, he incorporated previously existing sources. These materials share a consistent method of exegesis that allows us to see the redactor's role throughout (pp. 4–5).

It might be noted at this point that the careful editing of existing sources, and engagement with the authoritative (biblical) text with a theological purpose, offers an extant example of the kind of development of the canonical Torah itself. However, Schiffman maintains a distance between the scroll and the Torah it interprets. This scroll, he says, must be seen “like all other texts from the Second Temple period” as “rewritten canonical Torah.” It does not replace that canonical Torah, but is clearly regarded by its author as having greater authority (p. 7). This is, in some respect, the case, but such a view has to take into account the extent to which the “canonical Torah” is “like all other texts from the Second Temple period” too.

Of course, Schiffman's most significant contribution to Temple Scroll studies is with regard to its halakha. Indeed, he is largely responsible for the application of this apparently anachronistic use of the rabbinic term, and its wide-spread acceptance as an appropriate term for Qumran exegesis.[2] The Temple Scroll has contributed immensely to our understanding of the use of Scripture in the Second Temple period, and the larger part of this book is focussed on the significance of the halakhic exegesis of the scroll. And, of course, Schiffman's contention that Sadducean scribes are behind the scroll comes from comparison of the scroll's halakha to that of the later rabbis. This approach has its rewards, as can be seen in this volume.

In Part 3, on the temple, Schiffman makes the case that the architecture of the Temple reveals a plan based on the perfect obedience in the wilderness camp, looking forward to its reestablishment (ch. 13). The construction, however, does not follow any biblical temple as prescriptive (Solomon or Ezekiel; ch. 14); the furnishings, for example, derive from the tabernacle and not the temple, reinforcing the wilderness schema (ch. 15). The scroll's unique creation of the House of the Laver (ch. 16) emphasises the purity of the priests, as does even the run-off blood of the sacrifices. Thus, “sacred space” is a central concern of the author(s) (ch. 17). The temple is the centre of sanctity, with concentric spheres of holiness around it, making up the temple city (temenos). The tribes are to dwell in the land round about, in wilderness order. In this way all the people of the land have equal and direct access to the presence of God and his holiness. This is envisioned for the present time—that is, to have been implemented in the Hasmonean era—rather than in a future messianic era.

Part 4 focuses on sacrifices. What is notable overall here is that the concerns with details of sacrifices in the festivals indicate the expectation of these being practiced in a real setting. For example, the adaptation of the ordination rites (ch. 19), making it a permanent annual ceremony, should not be considered merely hypothetical and idealised. The sources of the scroll at least, therefore, give us a record of an active conversation regarding proper liturgical practice in the Second Temple period.

In Part 5, on purity matters, however, Schiffman turns this thinking around. He pronounces that the scroll does not describe actual rite, but the redactor's own views (p. 398). These chapters tend to be earlier, and so allowance needs to be made to developments in Schiffman's own thinking. This view runs contrary to the contention, shown above, that the scroll and temple plan were a blueprint for implementation in the Hasmonean era.

Finally, Part 6 consists of studies from the “Deuteronomic Paraphrase.” These include some of Schiffman's earliest articles, when the focus of many was on discerning the historical context for the scroll. They include a variety of exegetical questions.

The use of “paraphrase” may be contested, as owing much to John Strugnell's early description of 4Q Reworked Pentateuch. The text in this section resembles that biblical manuscript, but Schiffman obscures this with his presumption that this is a “paraphrase which follows the order of Scripture, not simply of a law or laws based on Deuteronomy” (p. 445). To be sure, there is paraphrastic interpretive material, but this is clearly based on a text of Deuteronomy, and a Deuteronomy which differs from the canonical (read MT) Torah. It would have been useful for some cross-reference here to Chapter Six, on “shared halakhic variants” with the Septuagint. In that article Schiffman discussed the interpretive nature of the plurality of texts found in the Second Temple period. There, he notes, “we must emphasize the intimate links between the scribal process of passing on texts, and the exegetical process of interpreting them” (p. 98).

However, this moves beyond Schiffman's chief focus in his studies on the Temple Scroll, which is halakha. As such it highlights the chief flaw in Garcia-Martinez' editing of Schiffman's work. Apart from the introduction, there is no attempt to bring these articles into a coherent relation to one another. This would have been a mammoth task, to be sure. But one is left wishing Lawrence Schiffman would have tackled it.

Dwight D. Swanson, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester

[1] Dwight D. Swanson, The Temple Scroll and the Bible: The Methodology of 11QT (Leiden: E. J. Brill,1995), 90, 225, 238. reference

[2] Lawrence Schiffman, The Halakhah at Qumran (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity 16; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975). reference