Two More New Psalms
As Translated from the Dead Sea Scrolls
Since 1947, scholars have been awaiting publication of the texts of the Dead Sea scrolls that were found in the now famous Qumran caves. Perhaps the most important archeological discovery of our time, the seven scrolls are a thousand years older than any similar extant material. They include a complete version of the Book of Isaiah, a commentary on the Book of Habakkuk, a Manual of Discipline (possibly used by a sect of the Essenes), the Book of Lamech, a document reporting “The War of the Children of Light Against the Children of Darkness,” a fragment from Isaiah, and a collection of Hymns that the late Professor E. L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University called Megillat ha-Hoydayot, “The Scroll of Thanksgiving Hymns.” Professor Sukenik was the first to recognize the importance of the find, and bought the latter three scrolls for the University, which has just announced their publication. The first four scrolls were acquired, early this year, by the Israeli government.
The hymns in the “Scroll of Thanksgiving” are the only works of their kind that we now possess dating between the period of the Biblical Psalms and the earliest of the devotional poems known as Piyyutim. They are of immense importance for the study of the development of Jewish psalmody at the time of the advent of Christianity—if we accept the scholarly consensus that the date of the composition of the scrolls is between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 1st century C.E.
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