Memory and the Creative Process of Scribal Traditions: The Case of Aramaic Daniel

Memory and the Making of a Biblical Persona

Copenhagen Qumran Aramaic Texts SymposiumHere you will find an audio recording and the corresponding Prezi slides for my paper “Remembering the Past, Cultivating a Character: Memory and the Aramaic Pseudo-Daniel Texts (4Q243; 4Q244-245)” presented at the “Vision, Narrative, and Wisdom in the Aramaic Texts at Qumran” symposium hosted by the University of Copenhagen (August 14-15, 2017).

An abstract and draft of the paper are included below. A more complete version of this paper is slated for the published proceedings of the conference.

Audio and Presentation Slides

Paper Abstract and Draft

A full PDF draft of the paper may be found here.

The texts collected under the Pseudo-Daniel rubric are an intriguing item in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls as they bridge two predominant foci observed for the broader Aramaic corpus. On the one hand, the texts are associated with life in the exilic diaspora by way of attribution to Daniel and mention of political figures and eras associated with prevailing empires. On the other hand, aspects of the fragmentary content are anchored in the antediluvian and ancestral past with nods to the flood, tower of Babel, exodus, references to patriarchs, and an apparent interest in priestly genealogies. This paper will revisit the composition(s) represented in 4Q243-245 and explore the ways in which it (they) contributes to our understanding of two interrelated issues. First, how can a reading informed by insights from memory studies advance our understanding of the situation of the Pseudo-Daniel materials at an apparent nexus of the two predominant narrative settings of the Aramaic corpus? Second, how did this new narrative and thematic backdrop at once enhance the emerging persona of Daniel as a literary character as well as enable the creator of these writings to redeploy this redrawn Daniel to speak into a broader set of topics? In these ways, the paper will draw upon and challenge aspects of some current conceptual categorizations of the Aramaic corpus as well as underscore how the Danielic writings within it provide a fresh space for redescribing the rapid evolution of the Daniel traditions in the centuries leading up to the Common Era.

Memory and the Creative Process of Scribal Traditions: The Case of Aramaic Daniel