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Comparing Sectarian Practice and Organization: the Qumran Sects in Light of the Regulations of the Shakers, Hutterites, Mennonites and Amish

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This article tries to demonstrate that the unique regulations of the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) sect are derived from its social character as a sect, not from scriptural exegesis or Hellenistic influence. In order to achieve this goal, the article introduces practices that are typical of introversionist sects, and shows that they can also be found in Qumran. Thus the evidence from Qumran contributes to the understanding of the sectarian practices and organization in general. The article compares the regulations from Qumran to those of the Shakers, the Hutterites, the Mennonites and the Amish and also makes inferences concerning the practices of these different sects.

The comparison pertains to the procedures of joining the sect, admission to adulthood, annual or semi-annual ceremonial communions, sanctions and punishments, confessions, economical organization and organizational patterns, especially the tendency of keeping the local community small, as well as gender relations and social hierarchy within the sect.

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