begin-title / end-title

Trevor Peterson speederson at
Thu Feb 1 08:47:59 EST 2001

Banyai Michael wrote:

> One would classify all these fragments als quoted sources. As you know,
> the
> hebrew names of the bible books are often the first words in the
> respective book.


> So we should assume that this text in Numbers is quoting an original
> independent
> document, formerly written on a separate roll. 
> Ergo the text is not an invention of the writer of Numbers, the quoted
> text
> predates the creation of Numbers.
> This is no stylistical device, it is, you would today cal it, the
> hardcover of an
> independent text.

This certainly sounds like a fascinating hypothesis, but I'm curious
whether you have any evidence to support it.  (I'm not trying to be
antagonistic, BTW.  I would genuinely like to know.)  About all I see in
your presentation here is the practice of titling biblical books. 
Granted, your conclusion is generally plausible, but I don't quite see how
it in any way rules out the possibility of a "stylistic device."  Do we
have any concrete examples of these sources and their citation elsewhere
(or at least more clearly identifiable sources that could be cited
elsewhere or citations that could have such sources)?  Do we have, for
instance, cuneiform texts that clearly exhibit such citations?  (Although,
I wonder if such an example might not complicate more than it solves,
since your presentation here starts from the premise that we're talking
about scrolls.  You can't unroll a clay tablet, and I haven't studied them
enough to know whether there is a parallel titling convention.)

In short, is there extrabiblical support for this practice?  (I'm assuming
that we don't really have any clear examples of both source and citation
within the Hebrew Bible itself.)  And if there is, how would you
distinguish a use of the formula that genuinely cites a prior source from
one that adapts the formula for other stylistic purposes?

Trevor Peterson

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