The Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20): A Reevaluation of its Text, Interpretive Character, and Relationship to the Book of Jubilees

Doctoral Dissertation


The dissertation is designed to address two basic areas: 1.) the text of the Genesis Apocryphon; and 2.) the scroll’s relationship to Jubilees in their analogous accounts of the division of the earth among Noah’s progeny (GenAp 16-17//Jub 8:11-9:15). The introductory chapter surveys a number of issues dealt with in studies of the Genesis Apocryphon since its discovery. The designation of the scroll as “rewritten Bible" is kept, but qualified. The relationship to Genesis is explored, as well as previous claims of authorship by the Qumran sect of Essenes. The latter is most unlikely. The relationships to 1 Enoch, Jubilees, and other works from Qumran are evident, but prior evidence does not allow a more refined knowledge of their connections. A new transcription, translation, and textual notes (with an apparatus of previous readings) are provided. These incorporate a number of corrections of earlier editions, and many new readings. The background of the division of the earth includes the Table of Nations from Genesis 10 (and other biblical passages), the Ionian world map, the broader geographic setting of the Genesis Apocryphon, and Noah’s arboreal dream-vision (GenAp 13-15). An authorial interest in heightening Noah’s righteousness, stressing his role as divider of the habitable earth, and legitimizing the right of Arpachshad’s descendents (Abram, and later the Israelites) to inhabit the Levant, or biblical Land of Canaan, is revealed. A comparison of the earth’s division in Jubilees and the Apocryphon shows that the latter is shorter, simpler, and employs a different ordering scheme. While Jubilees follows the biblical arrangement of Noah’s progeny, the Apocryphon lists them directionally. This may suggest that the Apocryphon preserves an earlier account than Jubilees, but the passages are best seen as dependent on a common cartographic source. Several new toponyms are proposed for both texts. Based on a reappraisal of its language and comparison to Jubilees, the Apocryphon is dated to the early-mid second century B.C.E. It is an apocalyptic work concerned with the heavenly "mysteries" and interested in dream interpretation. It was apparently intended to be read alongside and interpret Genesis, attesting to the distinctive format of scriptural interpretation during this period.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07022007-205251

Author Daniel Aaron Machiela
Advisor James C. VanderKam
Contributor Gary Anderson, Committee Member
Contributor David Aune, Committee Member
Contributor Eugene Ulrich, Committee Member
Contributor James C. VanderKam, Committee Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2007-06-11

Submission Date 2007-07-02
  • United States of America

  • judaism

  • genesis

  • genesis apocryphon

  • dead sea scrolls

  • aramaic

  • bible

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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