[b-hebrew] 5 scrolls or 1

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Aug 17 16:34:24 EDT 2005

On 8/17/05, Hayyim Obadyah wrote:
> Does anyone have any evidence or citations for when the change to a single
> scroll was made, and was any contemporary reasoning offered?  (Yes, I'm  sure
> we can all offer good logical speculation, but do we have any documented
> reason by those who did it?)

My impression is that there never was a "change."  First, it is kind
of silly to suppose
that the books were composed separately.  Whether you follow the Documentary
Hypothesis, or the traditional scheme, the assumption is that the work
as we have it
today is a unified work that is meant to represent a whole single
book.  The divisions
into five books are convenience measures.  So it would appear that the
measures developed later, and that originally the work was copied as
one book, at
least for a small time after its composition.  Next we have the modern
practice, and
also the Samaritan practice, where the Pentateuch is a single scroll. 
So to assume
that there was a break in the tradition regarding this issue would
imply that the book
was composed whole, then for convenience it was split up into five and
never copied
again whole, then both the Samaritans and the Jews, separately, began for 
liturgical practice to unify it again into one scroll.  It is much
more reasonable at
this point to suppose that simply the method of writing it whole was
maintained if
only for "official liturgical" practice, while there was a concurrent
development of writing
the books separately but that this development did not eliminate the
previous method.
Lastly, while there wasn't one book found amongst the DSS, there are scrolls of 
Genesis-Exodus and Leviticus-Numbers, which again suggests that originally there
was just one scroll, and then it was split into three (Genesis-Exodus,
Numbers, Deuteronomy) and then each of the first two was further
divided, all for
apparently convenience reasons.  All of this points to the Pentateuch originally
and continually being maintained on one scroll alongside the other alternatives
that later developed.

Yitzhak Sapir

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