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Sectarian consciousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls

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Chapter Summary

In the context of ancient Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls are often thought to provide a paradigm example of sectarianism in an extreme form. The Community Rule and Damascus Document, both of which are found in multiple copies in the Scrolls, describe a community in tension with the larger entity of Israel, from which it has separated. Carol Newsom was tacitly assuming that "sectarian," in the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls, implies a relation to "the Qumran community". Newsom's study was seminal insofar as she called for a distinction between texts that can be clearly attributed to the yaḥad and those that can not. This chapter reviews the sectarian self-understanding found in the undisputedly sectarian works, the rule books and 4QMMT, and turn to the more problematic case of a wisdom text, 4QInstruction.

Keywords: ancient Judaism; Carol Newsom; Dead Sea Scrolls; Qumran community; sectarianism; yaḥad



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