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Tradition And Innovation In The Dead Sea Scrolls

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Chapter Summary

The Dead Sea Scrolls provide some of our earliest examples of explicit interpretation of authoritative scriptures. It is generally acknowledged that the texts found in the Scrolls cannot all have been authored at Qumran. The collection includes many texts, including those we know as biblical, that were composed before the site was occupied in the Hellenistic period, and before the sectarian movement originated, on any reckoning. The Dead Sea Scrolls shed some interesting light on the workings of tradition. On the one hand, the scriptures seem to provide a recognized anchor in the past, and to provide a measuring stick (canon?) of fidelity. On the other hand, the claim of revealed interpretation quite openly breaks with the traditions of the recent past, and provides a license for the invention of new tradition in the name of revelation and interpretation.

Keywords: biblical; Dead Sea Scrolls; Qumran; revelation; tradition



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