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J. Saukkonen

Abstract: "Implicit and Explicit Chronology in 4Q252 (Commentary on Genesis A)"

Juhana Saukkonen

Many Jewish literary works from the late Second Temple period are concerned with chronological and genealogical schemes. In the Apocalypse of Weeks (_1 Enoch_ 93:3-10; 91:11-17) generations are grouped into ten units of seven "weeks", and the Book of _Jubilees_ presents the history as divided into jubilees, consisting of weeks of years. In the New Testament, the genealogical lists in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 follow different numerical patterns. References to chronological and genealogical schemes are also found in the texts from Qumran, for instance in 4Q180 (Pesher on the Periods) and 11QMelchizedek. The subject matter of the former text is apparently the "ten generations from Shem to Abraham", while the latter employs a chronological scheme of jubilees to describe the last days. Numerous other works show interest in chronological issues.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the chronological references in manuscript 4Q252 or Commentary on Genesis A. The text quotes and interprets passages of Genesis, but it has proven difficult to find any overarching themes or other factors that govern the selection of the scriptural passages. Several sections of the manuscript include explicit chronological comments, but most sections do not. One can argue, however, that there are underlying chronological principles, which affect the composition of 4Q252 as a whole. It might be of significance that the composition starts with the Noah stories, excluding the previous generations. From Noah and his sons the text goes on to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, finishing up with the blessings of Jacob's sons from Genesis 49. Particularly interesting is the blessing of Judah, whose interpretation includes sectarian, eschatological and messianic expressions. Eschatological allusions are found also in other parts of the composition, as well as references to the present time of the author(s). In other words, the time span of the composition is consciously stretched beyond the historical approach of Genesis. When examined against the background of earlier and roughly contemporaneous literary works, some implicit principles of the composition can be revealed. The compiler of 4Q252 probably had a certain chronological and genealogical framework in mind. Works like _Jubilees_ and _1 Enoch_ seem to be behind this framework. The latter of these influenced also the genealogy of Jesus used by Luke (as demonstrated by Richard Bauckham), and especially the treatment of Judah might be an important meeting point between these traditions. If we accept that 4Q252 reflects overall chronological concerns, one has to study also the ideological and theological implications of the chronological framework. Schemes of periods and generations tend to emphasize some events in history as well as predict the future. One of the recurring - although not all-embracing - themes of 4Q252 is the inheritance of the land, and its importance is also highlighted with the aid of chronology.

(c) 2001
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