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War Scroll Annotated Bibliography

The War Scroll is an important document for understanding second temple Judaism, and for comparison with the various eschatological hopes of the period, particularly of the NT. However, while there was an influx of studies soon after the discovery and editing of 1QM, the War Scroll was seldom published on. Articles here and there were published, but only recently in the past two decades have studies really began to appear again and advance our understanding of the War Scroll.

The following annotated bibliography provides a brief description of the various major sources (articles excluded) to consult for beginning one’s study of the War Scroll. I would suggest reading in the following order. First, read 1QM in Duhaime’s and Martínez’s translations, noting the important differences. Then read Yadin’s entire commentary to get a grasp on most of the document, with his views in mind (which I summarize below). Then read the introductions to the commentaries by Carmignac and van der Ploeg. Next, read Davies’ work for a full summary of evidence that suggests literary disunity in 1QM. Then, read Duhaime’s War Texts to get a grasp on all the critical issues involved with all the texts that scholars agree to be related to 1QM. Finally, read Schultz’ monograph for a comprehensive treatment of 1QM’s literary unity and previous scholarship. Along the way, spot-read in any of the commentaries, especially Jongeling’s, on important passages of interest.

Please note that I have omitted works in modern Hebrew, of which there are several important ones. You may find these in Schultz’ bibliography. He studied in Jerusalem and read them all and interacts with them. A couple studies treat 1QM’s literary unity and the relation of the cave 4 texts, and if one is able to read modern Hebrew, one should consult these works. If I missed anything, please comment and let me know, thanks!


Dupont-Sommer, André. The Essene Writings from Qumran. Translated by G. Vermes. Cleveland, Oh.: World Publishing, 1962.

  • This is an older translation that does not provide the Hebrew text. It is therefore difficult to determine what he has determined the Hebrew text to be at certain points (e.g., the important 1:3-5). There are few footnotes, which leave the reader with little rationale for translation or text-critical choices. Dupont-Sommer published this work before the cave 4 texts were published, so it is a bit outdated, but it provides a smooth English translation for those who want to read the document in a different version.

Duhaime, J. “War Scroll (1QM, 1Q33),” Pages 80-203 in Damascus Document, War Scroll, and Related Documents. The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations 2. Edited by James H. Charlesworth. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.

  • Duhaime here provides a critical Hebrew text with a wooden English translation. There is a somewhat lengthy introduction of the critical issues of the text with reserved judgments throughout. Duhaime’s larger work on the War Text should be consulted for all the critical issues involved, but this work is today a standard critical text for the War Scroll and its related documents.

Martínez, Florentino García and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition. 2 vols. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000.

  • This work provides the Hebrew (or Aramaic) and English on adjacent pages. Martínez makes some different text-critical choices than Duhaime and they therefore serve as useful conversation partners. However, while Duhaime provides footnotes with some rationale for decisions, this work provides no footnotes and no explanations for emendations, conjectures, and the like. However, as a study edition of the War Scroll in its original Hebrew, this work is required.


Yadin, Yigael. The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.

  • Yadin’s commentary assumes a literary unity to 1QM and the war detailed within it. He argues for a three-stage war, using his vast knowledge of second temple and rabbinic Jewish sources to support his argumentation. The commentary consists of a lengthy introduction (about two-thirds of the book) followed by a translation with brief footnotes that mostly refer back to the introduction. Yadin does make some text-critical decisions that are worthy of consideration and that should be compared to the various critical texts. This commentary is the standard that should be consulted first when beginning to study the War Scroll, as is evident by the frequent reference to it in all other works on the War Texts.

Carmignac, Jean. La Règle de la Guerre des Fils de Lumière contre les Fils de Ténèbres. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1958.

  • Carmignac, like Yadin, assumes literary unity in 1QM, but sees one war presented in two different perspectives in columns 1-2. The rest of the document then details the war. The work is of decent size, with a smaller introduction and much more commentary on the text. One should consult Carmignac on various passages under study for his lucid interpretations of texts and his attention to the use of the OT, but one must also keep in mind his assumption of the portrayal of the war in 1QM.

van der Ploeg, J. Le Rouleau de la Guerre. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 2. Leiden: Brill, 1959.

  • This work espouses various sources and redactions in 1QM, but the commentary treats the text as presenting one war, albeit in a poorly redacted fashion. The work is also much briefer than the others, which allows for quicker interaction but leaves something to be desired in the area of argumentation. Text-critical notes are also not the most detailed. Van der Ploeg notes many allusions to OT texts, but overall this work does not advance the field much further than Yadin and Carmignac. The one area in which van der Ploeg does contribute is to the discussion of 1QM’s literary unity, in which he is one voice of many arguing for multiple sources and various redactions.

Jongeling, Bastiaan. Le Rouleau de la Guerre des Manuscrits de Qumrân. Studia Semitica Neerlandica 4. Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1962.

  •  Jongeling’s commentary is quite thorough and interacts with all three commentaries published before his (including Yadin, whose original Hebrew was published prior to 1962). It is probably the largest commentary of the early group of four (i.e., Yadin, Carmignac, van der Ploeg, Jongeling) and deals thoroughly with text-critical issues, grammatical issues, and hermeneutical issues (e.g., use of the OT). The benefit of using Jongeling’s commentary of the others is that he so well summarizes the various positions espoused up to 1962 and provides arguments for each position, allowing the reader to gather information on the several interpretive possibilities involved in each passage.


Davies, Philip R. IQM, the War Scroll from Qumran: Its Structure and History. Biblica et Orientalia 32. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1977.

  •  Davies’ work is foundational for studies on the redactional history of 1QM. Columns 2-9 are composed from seven different sources composed after Maccabean success fueled Jewish military ambitions. Columns 15-19 are the product of a heavily redacted Maccabean war rule, an earlier stage of which is found in 14:2-12a. Columns 10-12 were independent hymns redacted into a single prayer before battle, probably deriving from Macabbean times, while columns 13 and 14 were also independent fragments. Lastly, col. 1 was added to give a dualistic tinge to the entire document, in line with cols. 15-19, and a war timeline was created that sought to synthesize the two different accounts of the war in 2-9 and 15-19. Although Davies’ work evidences some stretching of evidence, some arbitrary redactional conjectures, and some circular reasoning, his work still holds weight with those who see redactional disunity in 1QM.

Duhaime, Jean. The War Texts. Companion to the Qumran Scrolls. New York: T&T Clark, 2004.

  • This is the most thorough and current introduction to the critical issues of the War Texts (which are 1QM, the cave 4 texts that correspond to it, and a couple other texts such as 4Q285). It should be consulted soon after one has begun research on the texts, especially when dealing with the cave 4 texts to determine redactions in 1QM.

Schultz, Brian. Conquering the World: The War Scroll (1QM) Reconsidered. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 76. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

  • Schultz’s extensive monograph is a great advance in the discussion of the literary unity of 1QM. He reads cols. 1-2 as two different stages of the war, with cols. 15-19 presenting a secondary, later account that is supposed to present the same stage of the war as col. 1. Cols. 2-14 relate to the col. 2 war, but cols. 10-14 were taken from cols. 15-19 and adapted to the war of col. 2. His work especially does justice to the OT background employed by the author(s) of 1QM. Typically allusions are noted by commentators, but his work really addresses the passages used by exploring how the author may have understood himself to be part of the fulfillment of these OT texts. Although his work still supposes some redaction (he does not deny it), his work has presented a strong case for literary unity in 1QM as we have it. This is the most important book written on the War Scroll since Yadin’s commentary.

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