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Shifts In Covenantal Discourse In Second Temple Judaism

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Chapter Summary

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, several manuscripts containing descriptions of the ceremony of the renewal of the covenant with liturgical blessings and curses have been preserved. This chapter focuses on four: the Community Rule, the War Scroll, 4QBerakho, and 4QCurses. It discusses the motivational shift in the use of blessings and curses in the Second Temple period as illuminated by the Dead Sea Scrolls - a shift that is particularly prominent in the use of curses. Whereas curses in the texts that became Hebrew Bible belong mainly to the realm of legal discourse, curses in the Dead Sea Scrolls function rather as an expression of the Essene dualistic worldview and represent wisdom thought. The chapter demonstrates that this shift, while particularly heightened and apocalyptically colored in the Essene writings, is not a sectarian anomaly, but reflects broader theological currents of Second Temple Judaism.

Keywords: 4QBerakho; 4QCurses; Community Rule; covenantal discourse; Essene writings; Second Temple Judaism; War Scroll



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