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Cultivating Identity: Textual Virtuosity And "Insider" Status

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores another possible avenue for insider status construction, connected with textual interpretation and scriptural language. It is a common place of scrolls scholarship to say that the sectarian scrolls are permeated with a consciousness of scripture. Sectarians would have experienced this scriptural language and ethos in a variety of ways. In individual or communal study sessions, informal consideration or public interpretive performance, ?sitting in their homes or going on their way,? sectarian insiders would have cultivated a knowledge of scripture and a shared body of textual interpretations and commonplace expressions. From a sectarian perspective, the ability to understand a text?to really know what it is saying?would separate a sectarian from an outsider, and a higher-ranking sectarian from a new volunteer. Understood in this way, textual interpretation becomes not only a marker of insider status but also a process for its formation, confirmation, and internalization.

Keywords: insider status; scriptural language; scrolls scholarship; sectarian; textual interpretation



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