The Aramaic book commonly known as First Enoch is among the most important of all the compositions found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The fragments of this pseudepigraphal work and related documents provide new information about the use and growth of the Enochic traditions, as well as how their contents influenced the community that collected and placed the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran. Research on the Enochic literature in this corpus of documents is important for Jewish studies and for understanding the history of Christianity since the New Testament cites from and alludes to First Enoch while the Ethiopian church reveres it as part of its Scripture.
This study seeks to offer some new insights concerning the development and use of First Enoch and related Aramaic texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls by examining their importance for the Khirbet Qumran community. The first portion explores the transmission of First Enoch and related writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls to uncover what the copies of these texts tell us about the community at Khirbet Qumran and its precursor movement(s). The second section compares the theology of the prayers preserved in the Aramaic texts with those in the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls to show what they reveal about the use of the Enochic traditions by the Qumran sect and related groups. This investigation proposes that the Qumran community’s precursor movement(s) combined elements of pre-Maccabean Aramaic and Hebrew prayers but preferred the theological perspective of the penitential Hebrew prayer tradition. However, First Enoch and related works held a special status for the Khirbet Qumran community as its calendrical system and doctrine of evil shaped its theology for centuries. The Dead Sea Scrolls also show that the authors of the Enochic writings and those who collected and used them were influenced by literature and events in the Hellenistic world.
Department of History
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Atkinson, Kenneth, "What the Book of First Enoch and the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls Reveal About the History of the Qumran Community" (2023). Faculty Publications. 5529.