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"Old" And "New" Israel In The Bible And The Qumran Scrolls: Identity And Difference

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Chapter Summary

The topic of ?Israel? in the Qumran texts embraces issues of both identity and difference. The language of many of the scrolls, and especially those that describe or represent a sectarian community, emphasizes identity with Israel and at the same time difference from it. The sect is the true ?Israel? and the historical Israel, its social parent, is not. This chapter attempts to preserve an ideologically useful and important ambiguity: the sect is Israel and it is not. The transition from ?old? to ?new? Israel, or the replacement of one Israel by another, follows punishment and exile (CD 1:6, ?Nebuchadnezzar?; 3:10?11, ?given up to the sword?) and therefore clearly invokes the scriptural history. The chapter presents the Ezra and Nehemiah story, since it may have a closer historical relevance to the Qumran texts than it usually thought. It closely examines the ?Israels? of the Damascus Document.

Keywords: Damascus Document; Israel; Qumran texts; sectarian community



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