On Material Reconstruction: No More Guessing Games

As I prepare my edition of 1QS+ab for publication, I am creating an apparatus that proposes legitimate reconstructions. By legitimate reconstruction, I mean that reconstructions of lacunae must concord with the physical features of a column. So, if you were to place two fragments in a column, then propose a reconstructed text to fit between those two fragments, the reconstruction must necessarily concord with the Schriftenmetric statistics,1 and Historical Linguistics.2

Consider, for example, 1QSb 1:1. Elisha Qimron proposes that the line should read:

Elisha Qimron, The Dead Sea Scrolls, revised edition, 2019.

Now, the question is whether the reconstruction of, ירא[יו בוחרי] , has any merit based on the spacing between the two fragments (which are not annotated in Qimron’s editions). When creating a material reconstruction of the scroll, we begin to realise that Qimron’s proposal has little merit.

Tucker, James M. From Ink Traces to Ideology: The Material, Text, and Compositional Development of Manuscripts of the Community Rule at Qumran, Ph.D. Thesis. University of Toronto, 2020.

At one time, I would have likely invested an hour or so thinking about what could fill the line. I now just use the brackets, and annotate any reconstruction that fills the lacuna in such a way that the reconstruction concords with historical syntax and the spatial dimensions of the reconstruction as reverse engineered in the scribal hand.

Shabbat shalom, Friends.

  1. Schriftenmetric is a methodology of manuscript reconstruction that utilises Artificial Intelligence and algorithms to aid a philologist in the work of reconstructing a fragmentary document. I explain my methodology in greater detail in a forthcoming article. You can find more about the methodology here: https://jamesmtucker.com/?p=879
  2. Thus taking account of the various issues of diachronic changes and synchronic variations.

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