Quantitative analysis of the Aramaic Qumran texts
Starr, John Michael
Ηirbet-Qumran lies about 15km south of Jericho. Between 1947 and 1956 eleven caves were discovered that contained thousands of fragments, mainly of prepared animal skin, representing approximately 900 texts many of which are considered copies. Over 100 of these texts are in Aramaic, though many are short fragments. The provenance of these texts is uncertain, but the fact that copies of some of them are known from beyond Qumran indicates that not all the Aramaic texts found at Qumran are likely to have originated there, though Qumran may have been a site where they were copied. Hitherto, this Aramaic corpus has been referred to as a single entity linguistically, but increasingly it is recognized that heterogeneity of textual features is present. Such heterogeneity may provide clues as to the origins of different texts. The current classification of Qumran texts is in terms of the cave they were found in and the order in which they were found: it does not provide any information about textual relationships between texts. In this thesis I first review the literature to identify suitable quantitative criteria for classification of Aramaic Qumran texts. Second, I determine appropriate statistical methods to classify edited Aramaic Qumran texts according to quantitative textual criteria. Third, I establish ‘proof of principle’ by classifying Hebrew bible books. Fourth, I classify the Aramaic Qumran texts as a corpus without reference to external reference texts. Fifth, I investigate the alignment of this internally-derived classification with external reference texts. Sixth, I perform confirmatory analyses to determine the number of different text-type groups within the corpus. Seventh, I use this classification to allocate previously unclassified texts to one of these text-types. Finally, I examine the textual characteristics of these different text-types and discuss what this can tell scholars about individual texts and the linguistic development of Aramaic during Second Temple Judaism as reflected by Qumran.