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Weighing the Parts

A Papyrological Perspective on the Parting of the Ways

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image of Novum Testamentum

A comparison of the ideological composition of the Qumran library and Christian libraries from ancient Egypt, reconstructed from pre-Constantinian papyri, reveals a profound difference in the amount of group-specific material: ca. 28% Qumran “sectarian” at Qumran vs. ca. 60% “Christian” books in ancient Egyptian Christian libraries. Even for the second century, where we have much less data, the divide is quite great. If we take Qumran as example for a Jewish sectarian library, still focused largely on the Hebrew Bible and writings shared with other Jews, Christian libraries portray an independent group-specific identity, quite early on.

Affiliations: 1: Aix-en-Provence


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