Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version

June 1990


Published in Journal of Biblical Literature 109:2 (1990), pp. 193-206. Copyright © 1990 the Society for Biblical Literature Used by permission.


4QDtn, the All Souls Deuteronomy, is the best-preserved of all the Deuteronomy manuscripts from Cave 4, Qumran. A photograph and partial translation of the manuscript were published by Frank Moore Cross in 1969 in the catalogue "Scrolls from the Wilderness of the Dead Sea." The manuscript consists of four complete columns and two partially damaged columns. Columns 2-6 are one continuous sheet of leather, with a sewn edge on col. 2. Column 1 has two sewn edges and was originally attached to the beginning of col. 2 (the columns were separated in the process of restoration). The manuscript was well prepared; the scribe used both horizontal and vertical dry lines, marking the horizontal dry lines with points jalons. The manuscript is dated, on paleographical grounds, to the early Herodian period (30-1 BCE). The orthography of the manuscript is much fuller than that of either the MT or the Samaritan Pentateuch.

The contents of col. 1 are Deut 8:5-10. Columns 2-6 contain Deut 5:l-6:l. It is with the portion of the manuscript containing the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, that this paper will be concerned. The Decalogue, as is well known, exists in two versions: the version found in Exodus (or the Priestly version) and the version found in Deuteronomy (the Deuteronomic version). Although the versions are substantially the same, there are certain differences between the two, particularly in the fourth commandment, and these differences raise the questions of which is the more ancient version, and of the possibility of recovering the original text of the Decalogue from either or both of the two versions. This paper will attempt to locate the All Souls Deuteronomy version of the Decalogue within the history of the transmission of the text and to illuminate some of the text-critical questions concerning the Decalogue. The witness to the Decalogue found in the All Souls Deuteronomy is firmly in the tradition of Deuteronomy 55-21, but has been infected by the Priestly tradition (Exod 20:l-17) at one crucial point. In addition, it preserves unique readings at several points.

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