First, sorry it took so long since my last post. Been swamped.
I’m moving to John’s Appendixes on canonicity since, in my view, there’s more there we need to think of than his last couple of installments taken in order.
In his “Appendix A” (“Thinking about Canon”), John looks at how the Qumran community viewed things — can we tell what they considered canonical by how they discuss and comment on ancient books? Here is the lion’s share of what John writes in this appendix n(his links included):
The Torah and the Prophets are the means by which God reveals precept and vision. The Interpreter or Exegete is the one who efficaciously inquires of the Torah. The results of said inquiry comprise the communitys halacha and eschatology, but are not to become common knowledge. After two years of service as part of the number that govern a community (of which there were many scattered throughout the land), community members were permitted to go to the wilderness to inquire of the Torah and the Prophets. This is portrayed as the highest imaginable calling. It should not be assumed that the Torah [God] enjoined through the agency of Moses refers sic et simpliciter to the Pentateuch. It probably encompasses Jubilees, which also presents itself as vision and precept transmitted to Moses. Cf. CD A 16:1-3, where the Book of Time Divisions by Jubilees and Weeks (=Jubilees) is understood as the communitys road map of the days that awaited them. In CD B 20:1, the Beloved Teacher, the one referred to as The Interpreter here, is spoken of as the founder of the congregation of the men of perfect holiness.
In the Qumran sect, the hermeneutical process was carefully controlled, and stood at the very heart of the communitys self-understanding. It is probable that the pesharim, and perhaps a part of the so-called parabiblical literature – much of it actually predates the sect, are products of this self-understanding.
As was noted in the body of this essay, thematic pesharim among the Dead Sea Scrolls comment on passages from the following writings; each, in other words, was understood as canonical in the functional sense: Deut, 2 Sam, Exod, Amos, Pss, Ezek, Dan, and Isa (4Q174); Deut, Num, and Josh (4Q175); Isa and Zech (4Q176); Pss, Isa, Mic, Zech, Ezek, and Hos (4Q177); Jer (4Q182). Continuous pesharim are attested for the following writings: Isa, Hos, Mic, Nah, Hab, Zeph, and Pss. The focus of these texts is on actualization in contemporary figures and events.
The scope of parabiblical literature attested among the Dead Sea scrolls is determined by an interest in and elaboration on the following figures: Enosh (4Q Prayer of Enosh); Enoch, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and Abraham (1QapGen); Enoch (Book of Watchers; Book of Giants; Enastr; Book of Dreams; Letter of Enoch); Noah (4Q Birth of Noah ar); Jacob (4QTJacob? ar); Judah (Testament of Judah; 4Q538); Joseph (4QTJoesph ar); Naphtali (4QNaph); Levi (1QTLevi ar; 4QLevi ar); Kohath (Levis son; 4QTQohath ar); Amram (Kohaths son; 4QVisions of Amram); Moses (4Q174; Jubilees; Apocryphon of Moses); Joshua (Apocryphon of Joshua); Samuel (4QVisSam); and Ezekiel (4QpsEzek). Ben Sira 49:14-16, with its idealization of the figures of Enoch, Joseph, Shem, Seth, Enosh, and Adam (in that order), is an independent witness to the importance of parabiblical alongside of biblical literature in Second Temple period Judaism.
In the broadest of terms, textual authority at Qumran may be described as follows. The Law, the Prophets (including Daniel), and the Psalms ruled faith and practice, but not in isolation from a broad range of other texts. Commentary, parabiblical, and other literature functioned as preservative additions to the aforementioned group of texts. Jubilees in particular enjoyed authoritative status. 4Q228 Frg. 1 i 9, explicitly quotes from it. Damascus Document [Cairo Geniza A] 16:1-3 promotes its authority. Calendar and eschatology as understood in Jubilees became foundational to the sects own understanding of the same topics.
Should we take Qumran as our example? To what degree? How?