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Rebranding the Patriarchs: The Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls as the Missing Link in Redefining the Occupational Dimensions of Patriarchs in Early Judaism

Project description

Exploring patriarchal traditions in early Judaism

Patriarchs in mid-Second Temple Judaism (around 300 to 100 BCE) were more than just the forefathers of Israel. They were prophets, priests, wisdom teachers and scribal scholars, according to the EU-funded REBRAOD project. The project will explore the link between the patriarchal tradition and the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls and reveal how the patriarchal traditions first emerged and later developed. It will analyse critical texts and key concepts and terminologies. REBRAOD’s findings will enhance the study of the mechanisms and motifs of literary transmission and editorial processes, as well as future research on sources, transmission processes, and social structures of the Mediterranean cultural sphere. The work will also promote studies on patriarchal traditions in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


The project provides a comprehensive picture of the developing depictions of patriarchal figures in mid Second Temple period Jewish sources (ca. 300 - 100 BCE). Instead of the patriarchs being merely the forefathers of Israel, they gain further occupational dimensions and/or existing dimensions become more explicitly formulated. Such occupational dimensions are in earlier sources related to priests, prophets, scribal scholars, and wisdom teachers. This rebranding process of patriarchal literary figures produced various kinds of hybrid figures.

The sources cover the ancient versions of Genesis, the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Jubilees. The main method used in textual analysis is comparative close reading, but theories of literary growth connected with these works and any text critical evidence of variant literary versions are included. Central part of the methodological conversation is definitions of key concepts and terminology.

The scientific novelty of this project placing the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls into their proper place in the transmission and reception history of the patriarchal tradition and the focus on occupational agency. Adding this evidence, missing in previous studies, has major repercussions on our understanding of the development and growth of the patriarchal traditions. The project will clarify the early reception of patriarchal figures and how and why the broader, multi occupational, literary depictions of the patriarchs were formed and transmitted.

The project provides a significant addition to the study of the mechanisms and motifs of literary transmission and editorial processes. The results are crucial for future studies on sources, transmission processes, and social structures of the wider Mediterranean cultural sphere. Moreover, the project provides a basis for analyzing patriarchal traditions in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with the full appreciation of the early background, religious dialogue and further innovations.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 214 934,40
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data