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Prophecy and law in the Qumran community

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Chapter Summary

Prophets in the Hebrew Bible rarely appear as lawgivers. Though they often champion the observance of the covenant and its laws, their prophetic capabilities are rarely employed to mediate newly revealed divine law. The Qumran texts routinely represent the ancient prophets as mediators of divinely revealed law, sometimes in cooperation with Moses, while elsewhere independent of Moses. The presentation of the ancient prophets as lawgivers at Qumran therefore suggests a deliberate attempt to assign juridical responsibilities to the ancient prophets. For the Qumran community, as well as the majority of Second Temple Judaism, Moses was both a prophet and lawgiver who received on Sinai the divinely revealed law, which comprises the Torah. The portrait of the classical prophets is reworked in order to conform to the sectarian conception of the prophetic task of lawgiving. The sectarian system of lawgiving is represented as a contemporary realization of the classical prophetic models.

Keywords: ancient prophets; divine law; Hebrew Bible; Moses; Qumran community; sectarian lawgivers; Sinai; Torah



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