January 21, 2011 - 8:55pm | by Ian W. Scott
The Visions of Amram is a previously unknown work discovered in the Qumran finds. Amram, the figure to whom the document is attributed, is identified in biblical tradition as Moses’ father.
Provenance and Social Setting:
The document is preserved in five Aramaic copies (4Q543-547), suggesting that wherever it originated the Visions of Amram was reasonably popular at Qumran. Still, since the document displays none of the distinctive language or ideas associated with documents like the Community Rule (1QS), the Thanksgiving Hymns (1QHa), etc. which most agree were composed by members of the Qumran sect, the Visions of Amram may have been composed and read outside the Qumran group. The document was likely written in Aramaic some time in the second century BCE, probably by a Jew living in Judea or the surrounding region.
Text Status and Contents:
The version presented here, compiled by Robert Duke, is the first eclectic text of the Visions of Amram. This edition was produced directly from photographic images of the fragments, and in a few cases this results in different readings from those of Puech's DJD edition. The "chapter" and "verse" numbers are new to this edition. Each "chapter" represents a distinct narrative episode in the document, and Duke suggests that these episodes appeared in the original document in the order they are presented here. Note that these numbers do not correspond to the fragment, column, and line numbers by which Armam has previously been referenced. Since those numbers refer to locations on physical manuscripts, they cannot be used in referring to an eclectic text which incorporates readings from several different manuscripts.
In chapters 1 and 4 Duke includes a number of unplaced sections of text. These represent manuscript fragments whose contents evidently belong to these episodes in the narrative, but which cannot be connected to the continuous text of their respective chapters. Their original position within the chapter, in relation to one another and in relation to the continuous text, is uncertain.
A critical apparatus of all the variants evident in the five manuscripts is being prepared, and this will allow readers to view each fragment separately. No attempt has been made in this edition to estimate how many characters could fit in the gaps which punctuate this text because of damage to the underlying manuscripts. Neither does this edition identify the location of blanks in the text, since (again) these come in different positions in different manuscripts. These will be identified in the forthcoming critical apparatus and transcription of separate fragments.
The "chapters" of Duke's edition correspond with the extant fragments as follows:
|Chapter 1: Amram and His Children||4Q543 1 a,b,c; 4Q545 1a i; 4Q546 1|
|Chapter 2: Amram's Charge to Moses||Continuous text:||4Q543 2a-b; 4Q545 1a i|
|Unplaced section 1||4Q546 10|
|Chapter 3: Amram's Sojourn in Canaan||4Q543 3-4; 4Q544 1; 4Q545 1a-b ii; 4Q546 2; 4Q547 1-2|
|Chapter 4: Amram's Vision||Continuous text||4Q543 5-9; 4Q544 1; 4Q547 2|
|Unplaced section 1||4Q545 7|
|Unplaced section 2||4Q543 10; 4Q544 2|
|Unplaced section 3||4Q543 14; 4Q544 3; 4Q546 4|
|Unplaced section 4||4Q545 4|
|Unplaced section 5||4Q547 5|
|Unplaced section 6||4Q547 8|
|Unplaced section 7||4Q547 6|
|Unplaced section 8||4Q546 8|
|Unplaced section 9||4Q547 9|
|Unplaced section 10||4Q543 15; 4Q546 6|
|Unplaced section 11||4Q545 6; 4Q547 3|
|Unplaced section 12||4Q543 16|
- Émile Puech, Qumrân Grotte 4 XXII: Textes Araméens Première Partie 4Q529-549 (DJD XXXI; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001).
- ** This is the editio princeps for Visions of Amram. Puech's readings of the extant fragments are substantially similar to those of Duke, but Puech has made extensive attempts to reconstruct the contents of the many lacunae in the surviving fragments. Scholars are not agreed as to the plausibility of these reconstructions. Puech's edition still did not reconstruct a composite text from the fragments, as Duke has done here.
- Florentino García Martínez, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1997-1998), 2.1084-1093.
- ** Provides the text of the various fragments in a convenient form, along with English translations on facing pages. The fragments are not assembled to form a composite text.
|Marc Philonenko, "Melkiresha et Melkira: Note sur les ‘Visions de Amram’," Semitica XLI-XLII (1993): 159-62.|
|F. Garcia Martínez, "4Q Amram B I,14: Melki-resha' o Melki-sedeq?" Revue de Qumran 45 (1985): 111-14.|
|Jósef Tadeusz Milik, "Écrits préesséniens de Qumrân: D'Hénoch à Amram," Qumrân: sa piéte, sa théologie et son milieu (ed. M. Delcor; Bibliotheca Ephermeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 46; Leuven: University Press, 1978), 91-106.|
|Jósef Tadeusz Milik, "4Q Visions de Amram et une citation d'Origéne," Revue Biblique 79 (1972): 77-97.|
|. . .||ellipsis||When it appears within square brackets, an elipsis represents a gap in the surviving text due to physical damage to the manuscripts. No attempt has been made here to indicate the number of characters that could fit into each gap.|
|ה||dot above a letter||A dot above a letter indicates that this letter is partially obscured in the manuscript and that the reading is uncertain.|
|[ ]||square brackets||Square brackets mark the boundaries of a gap in the surviving text due to physical damage to the manuscripts. Any letters appearing within these brackets have been reconstructed by a modern editor, though in this case little attempt has been made to speculate as to the contents of the missing text.|
The eclectic text of Visions of Amram published here is under copyright to Robert Duke. Permission is hereby granted for all non-profit use for research and scholarship. For any other use, please contact the OCP general editors to obtain permission. Before using this or any other OCP text for another purpose, please see the OCP policy on re-use and re-publication.