Discoveries of thousands of scroll fragments in remote caves along the western shore of the Dead Sea have provided new evidence with which to search for the origins of the text of the Hebrew Bible. In “New Directions in Dead Sea Scroll Research,” Frank Moore Cross relates his theory of textual families to explain the variant forms of biblical texts transfound at Qumran. Cross notes that by the first century A.D., the confusion of text types sub-sided, suggesting that some authority had decided on which texts would be accepted and which rejected. Cross identifies the great sage Hillel as the most likely candidate for this authority.
Hancock Professor of Hebrew and other Oriental Languages at Harvard University, Cross has been a member of the International Committee for Editing Dead Sea Scrolls since 1953. He wrote “The Historical Importance of the Samaria Papyri,” BAR 04:01. A past president of both the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Schools of Oriental Research and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Bible Review, Cross has written several books, including The Ancient Library at Qumran. His article in this issue is the first of a two-part series that will continue in the next issue of Bible Review.