Qumran Calendars: A Survey of Scholarship 1980—2007

Jonathan Ben-Dov, Stéphane Saulnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present article surveys the scholarship on the calendars represented in the Qumran texts and the Pseudepigrapha. The survey commences with the influential articles by VanderKam in the late 1970s, while relating also to Jaubert's earlier hypothesis. After a presentation and classification of the relevant texts, we proceed to elucidate the prominent calendrical and historical themes: the calendar in Jubilees and the Temple Scroll; the early history of the 364-day year in Judah; the non-Jewish origins of the 364-day calendar tradition; intercalation and the beginning of the day; and the various accounts of lunar phases in writings from Qumran. Broadly speaking, present-day research tends to emphasize the schematic aspect of the 364-day calendar tradition, renouncing the older view of this system as a `solar' calendar. In addition, Jaubert's hypothesis on the antiquity of the 364-day calendar, although still upheld in significant parts of current scholarship, is seriously challenged when viewed in a broader historical context. Finally, the Jewish astronomical and calendrical lore is increasingly explained on the background of astral sciences in the Hellenistic world—from Mesopotamia to Egypt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-168
Number of pages45
JournalCurrents in biblical research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Book of Jubilees -- Criticism
  • interpretation
  • etc
  • Dead Sea scrolls -- Criticism
  • etc. -- History
  • Ethiopic Book of Enoch -- Criticism
  • Jewish astronomy
  • Jewish calendar


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