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Reading for History in the Dead Sea Scrolls

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Abstract The authors of the pesharim clearly had traditions available to them, whether oral or written, that we do not now have in textual form. Figures like the “Man of the Lie” and “Wicked Priest” can not be dismissed as fictional, even if their identities are obscure. While the ostensibly historical allusions in the scrolls are always tendentious, they do at least permit us to infer the general context in which the sect developed. It is clear that conflict over the interpretation of the Torah was the primary reason for the formation of the sect. The conflict with the Wicked Priest should be located late in the Teacher’s career. A plausible occasion for that conflict is provided by the decision of Alexandra Salome and her high priest, Hyrcanus II, to follow the teachings of the Pharisees, after the death of Alexander Jannaeus.


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