Wisdom Literature is the first comprehensive commentary on the wisdom texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. John Kampen provides original translations of these works, most of which are found in the extensive collection of fragments that became widely accessible for study only in 1991. Augmenting his translations with scholarly notes, discussions of key terms, and detailed commentary, Kampen shows how this corpus fits into—and enhances our understanding of—biblical wisdom, Christian origins, and the complex social and intellectual history of Second Temple Judaism.
"The greatest contribution that the fragments of Qumran have made to the study of the NT and Christian origins is to enhance our understanding of the developments within Jewish history during the latter portion of the Second Temple era. Here we examine specific connections between the texts of the NT and early Christianity with the Qumran fragments within the context of perspectives on Jewish history enhanced by the study of the latter. The relationship of wisdom and apocalyptic, the association of wisdom and the Torah, as well as the varied and changing understandings of wisdom within the development of sectarian movements in Second Temple Judaism are topics of considerable significance for an understanding of the treatment of wisdom within the materials of the NT and early Christianity. Noteworthy is the recent monograph of Grant Macaskill, who provides an integrative perspective on wisdom and apocalyptic in a study including both Instruction and Matthew.120 He finds in both 1 Enoch and Instruction an “inaugurated eschatology” in which the revealing of wisdom to a select group set apart from the remainder of Israel is a key factor in explaining the relationship of these two literary traditions. He then identifies the same phenomenon in Matthew. The explanation of this relationship, basic for the study of Instruction as well as the wisdom elements throughout the Qumran evidence, has crucial implications for the study of many NT texts and the historical questions encountered in the exploration of Christian origins. Most significantly, the possibility that the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge could be confined to the adherents of a particular sect within Second Temple Judaism provides a context within which first-century adherents of groups centered in Jesus Christ could make similar claims. This clarifies a Palestinian Jewish environment as a potential context for the claims in some NT compositions regarding wisdom. Further research will be required to fill out this picture. A few aspects of these developments are treated here as examples.
This is an excellent guide to the Qumran wisdom literature, providing updated introductions, new translations, and judicious commentaries on all the texts. John Kampen has succeeded in presenting this vast body of literature as a research tool for the advanced scholar and the beginning student alike, and has done so in an attractive way.
—Emanuel Tov, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
This volume provides an accessible collection of ten of the major wisdom documents found at Qumran. Based on his many years of work on this genre, Kampen has judiciously chosen key issues to focus on in the introductions to each work and in the commentaries. Concisely, yet with depth, he demonstrates what these wisdom texts can contribute to our understanding of Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament, and he alerts us to many questions that await further study and reflection.
—Eileen Schuller, McMaster University
John Kampen, celebrated for his focus on wisdom in the Dead Sea Scrolls, has written, in an exciting and lucid manner, the first focused commentary on the Qumran wisdom texts. While the Cave 1 manuscripts rarely concern 'wisdom,' the scrolls Kampen translates are devoted to it. Studying a corpus of texts and not a definition is the beginning of wisdom. I find Kampen's book exciting and perspicacious.
—James H. Charlesworth, Princeton University
The Qumran wisdom texts, most of which only became known in the last wave of access to the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1990s, are of enormous significance for our understanding of the Jewish wisdom tradition. . . . Kampen effortlessly opens up this new treasure trove of texts and puts their study on a firm footing. Essential reading.
—Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham