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Finding the Sectarian Self

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Strategies of Communal Legitimation in the Matthean Mission Discourse

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Elements of the Matthean mission discourse (Matt 10:5b–42) contributing to the evangelist’s sectarian agenda are identified and analyzed through comparison with the Hodayot, drawing on the work of Carol Newsom (The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran, 2004). Each composition is shown to address basic challenges of sectarian legitimation and differentiation by constructing a “figured” world in which subjectivities resistant to those promulgated by the dominant cultural script are articulated through the reaccentuation of normative idioms, situating these subjectivities in relation to mythoi of both the group’s leader and the group’s members. The two compositions are also shown to demonstrate significant differences, especially in terms of the types of normative idioms to which they appeal, the forms of experience and agency assigned the respective mythoi, and the manner in which the ideal sectarian subject negotiates the dynamics of self-alienation, non-acceptance, and conflict engendered by its interaction with the non-sectarian world.

Affiliations: 1: Emory University, Atlanta GA


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