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Chapter Summary

In rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, however, the bulk of our evidence comes from relatively late literary sources, which have been shaped by circumstances, tastes, and biases of their editors and often tend to emphasize the significance of a particular social setting at the expense of others. In this respect the Dead Sea Scrolls provide a significantly more balanced picture of the variety of social settings in which a typical religious movement at the turn of the eras would take shape. This chapter reviews some of the available evidence for the variety of social forms that existed within the Dead Sea movement. It argues that the organizational structure of the Dead Sea sect reflects a much broader paradigm that could be productively used to reconstruct structures of other religious movements in all their dynamic complexity.

Keywords: Christianity; Dead Sea Scrolls; rabbinic Judaism; social forms



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