Fragments From the Book of Neander

With all of the interest in ancient texts, I’m surprised that no one else has mentioned this recently discovered missive from the Dead Sea scrolls. Dr. Heime Schmulevitz, an Aramaic scholar (and amateur woodworker) has kindly shared these excerpts from The “Book of Neander”. The scroll is in fragments, but portions have been recently pieced together and deciphered. It is one of the few Apocryphal texts of the Biblical era that directly mentions woodworking. Here are a few passages that will give hope and encouragement to many:

” . . . Woe be to the man who uses a tool that spins bits of metal in a circular motion. The screeching noise and spewing dust are an abomination unto the Lord. He who pushes the tool by hand will have a favored place at the bench of heaven. . . .” “. . . yet a toothed metal band is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord, as the noise it makes is not unpleasant and the dust and debris fall harmlessly to the ground, saving its users from fear of being bitten or smote . . .”

” . . . and only those anointed as prophets may wear the puffy shirt or silly hat, so they may be recognized by the unlearned and their teachings not questioned . . .” ” . . . if one of these prophets wants for knowledge to pass along, let him pick up the ancient texts, and treat them as new and claim them as his own . . .” ” . . . these prophets shall spend their days in writing and teaching, not in the labor of producing useful things, for that is the province of lesser men . . . ”

” . . . a man of honor shall have all the planes and chisels he may amass, to prove his worthiness, but he shall refrain from the first and second planes, lest he become known as a collector . . .” ” . . . if he has strayed and brought into his place a tailed tool, let him not enjoy it but sell it at a loss to a Philistine, for expending more effort will enrich him more than if he completed some work that might be criticized . . .” ” . . . if a man knoweth not how to sharpen his tools, he will suffer no shame for the employment of a guide, for life is short and holding a tool steady while pushing back and forth on the stone is less pleasant than when he maketh fine shavings . . .”

” . . . remember always that thy bench is a holy place, and not to be soiled with the residue of glue, or of finishing oil, or of the mark of any sharp tool. Keep it forever in a state of perfect flatness, such that the hindquarters of a gnat may not pass between the bench top and an edge whose straightness has been proved beyond all doubt . . . ” ” . . . he shall keep his tools in a sacred ark, bringing them forth only to restore their edges, after which they shall be anointed with the fat from an unspotted lamb, applied with the holy cloth, reserved only for that purpose . . . “


Fragments From the Book of Neander — 1 Comment

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