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Reading The Human Body And Writing In Code: Physiognomic Divination And Astrology In The Dead Sea Scrolls

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Chapter Summary

As far as our sources are concerned, physiognomics appears as a form of divination for the first time in Jewish culture during the Hellenistic- Early Roman period. The most important evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls: the Hebrew text 4Q186 (4QZodiacal Physiognomy) and the Aramaic text 4Q561 (4QPhysiognomy ar). This chapter concentrates on the Hebrew text 4QZodiacal Physiognomy. The manuscript of 4QZodiacal Physiognomy immediately catches the reader's attention due to the way it is written. Contrary to the regular direction of writing in Hebrew, the text is written from left to right. The combination of astrology and physiognomics in 4QZodiacal Physiognomy demonstrates the belief that the zodiacal signs have an effect on the appearance of the human body. The interpretation of 4QZodiacal Physiognomy put forward in this chapter is compatible with what we know about the deterministic and dualistic world-view of the Qumran community.

Keywords: 4QZodiacal Physiognomy; astrology; Dead Sea Scrolls; Hebrew text; human body; Jewish culture; physiognomics; Qumran community



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