Teaching and Learning Guide for: Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Authors


Abstract

Author's Introduction

Scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls has been revolutionized by the full availability of the scrolls beginning in the 1990s. Since then, scores of publications have appeared on a wide range of topics in Qumran scholarship. Some have introduced the scholarly world to new texts and ideas, while others have revisited and revised older scholarly assumptions in light of newly available material. One area that has benefited greatly from this scholarly activity is the study of religion. This article therefore offers a synthesis of the current state of research on religion in the Qumran community as articulated in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Religion both in thought and in practice is treated. The former refers to the theological belief system of the Qumran community: God, dualism and predestination and eschatology, messianism, and resurrection; the latter indicates the way that the religious ideals of the Qumran community were actualized in daily life: formation of Jewish law, temple, sacrifice and prayer, and ritual and purity. This guide seeks to present the critical issues and direct readers to the central texts as they relate to each of these subjects and the various scholarly models associated with their study.

Online Materials

1. http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/

Website of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This website contains a wealth of useful material including introductory articles on the scrolls and a frequently updated (and searchable) bibliography of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship since 1995. The center also hosts a wide variety of conferences and colloquia, for which information is provided on the website.

2. http://www.nelc.ucla.edu/qumran/

This website contains a virtual reconstruction of the site of Qumran (Qumran Visualization Project) developed by Robert R. Cargill of UCLA. It includes several different multimedia forms. This website is also linked to a blog (http://virtualqumran.blogspot.com/) that keeps readers updated on additions to the site and related information.

3. http://mailman.mcmaster.ca/mailman/listinfo/g-megillot

This is the homepage of ‘g-megillot’, a discussion group devoted to the scholarly discussion of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Interested members are expected to display some academic credentials to join the group.

4. http://qumranica.blogspot.com/

This is a blog that accompanies a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls taught by James Davila of the University of St. Andrews. Although only active when the course is being offered (older material is archived on the site), it allows observers an inside view of an academic seminar on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

5. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/scrolls/toc.html

Website of the 1993 Library of Congress exhibit ‘Scrolls from the Dead Sea: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship’. It contains many introductory articles on the scrolls and several pictures.

Sample Syllabus

The following syllabus could be adopted for an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar on religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It seeks to introduce students to both the primary texts and their modern scholarly discussion. Each section could be divided into several class sessions as the instructor sees fit. Additional articles listed would be well-suited for a graduate seminar.

Textbooks

Wise, Michael, Abegg, Martin Jr, & Cook, Edward, 2005, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, 2nd edn, Harper San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

  • • page numbers for this volume are provided in parentheses following primary texts.
  • • students should read the introduction to each text when first encountered.

Schiffman, Lawrence H., 1995, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran, ABRL, Doubleday, Garden City, NY.

Another helpful reference tool is:

Schiffman, Lawrence H., & VanderKam, James C., (eds.), 2000, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Part One: Introduction

1. The Library of Qumran

Schiffman, 3–36.

Dimant, Devorah, 2000, ‘The Library of Qumran: Its Content and Character’, in LH Schiffman, E Tov and JC VanderKam (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years after Their Discovery: Proceeding of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20–25, 1997, Israel Exploration Society, the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.

Newsom, Carol A., 1990, ‘“Sectually Explicit” Literature from Qumran’, in WH Propp, B Halpern and DN Freedman (eds.), The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpreters. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, IN.

2. The Archaeology of Qumran

Schiffman, 37–61.

Browse through the Qumran Visualization Project at http://www.nelc.ucla.edu/qumran/

3. The Historical Background

Schiffman, 65–81.

Wise, Michael, Abegg, Martin Jr, & Cook, Edward, 2005, ‘Reading a Dead Sea Scroll’, in The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, 2nd edn, pp. 38–45, Harper San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

4. The Origins and Identity of the Qumran Community

CD 1–2 (51–54); 1QS 8–9 (128–132); 4QMMT (454–462)

Schiffman, 83–95, 113–26.

García Martínez, Florentino, 1990, ‘A “Groningen” Hypothesis of Qumran Origins and Early History’, Revue de Qumran, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 521–541.

Collins, John J., 2006, ‘The Yahad and the “Qumran Community”’, in C Hempel and JH Lieu (eds.), Biblical Traditions in Transmission: Essays in Honour of Michael A. Knibb, E. J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Part Two: Religion in Practice in the Dead Sea Scrolls

5. Progressive Revelation and the Formation of Jewish Law

Idea of progressive revelation: 1QS 5:7–13 (122–23); CD 3:12–16 (54)

Sabbath laws: CD 10:17–11:18 (21–22)

Schiffman, 245–55.

Shemesh, Aharon, & Werman, Cana, 2003, ‘Halakhah at Qumran: Genre and Authority’, Dead Sea Discoveries, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 104–29.

Jassen, Alex P., 2008, ‘The Presentation of the Prophets as Lawgivers at Qumran’, Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 127, no. 2, pp. 307–37.

6. The Qumran Community and the Temple Cult

On the defiled Temple: 1QpHab 8:8–13 (85); 12:7–17 (88); CD 4:14–18 (55); 6:13–16 (57)

Sectarian Temple laws: review 4QMMT (454–462) with emphasis on Section B

Schiffman, 257–71.

Baumgarten, Joseph, 1977, ‘Sacrifice and Worship among the Jewish Sectarians of the Dead Sea (Qumran) Scrolls’, in Studies in Qumran Law, SJLA 24, E. J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Kugler, Robert, 2000, ‘Rewriting Rubrics: Sacrifice and the Religion of Qumran’, in JJ Collins and RA Kugler (eds.), Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

7. Prayer at Qumran

Prayer and sacrifice: 1QS 9:26–10:16 (132–33)

Community as Temple; 4Q174 1 (253–256)

Prayer texts: 4Q503 (520–521); 4Q504 (522–26)

Schiffman, 289–312.

Schuller, Eileen M., 2001, ‘Worship, Temple, and Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in J Neusner, AJ Avery-Peck and B Chilton (eds.), Judaism in Late Antiquity 5,1: The Judaism of Qumran: A Systemic Reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Theory of Israel, HdO 56, E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Chazon, Esther G., 1998, ‘Hymns and Prayers in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in JC VanderKam and PW Flint (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls after Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, Vol. 1, E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

8. Ritual and Purity

Communal initiation rites and purity: 1QS 6:13–23 (125–126)

On Tebul Yom: 4QMMT B 13–16 (456), 65–72 (459); 11Q19 45:7–12 (614); 49:19–21 (618); 51:4–5 (619)

Schiffman, 97–112.

Harrington, Hannah K., 2006, ‘Purity and the Dead Sea Scrolls – Current Issues’, Currents in Biblical Research, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 397–428.

Regev, Eyal, 2003, ‘Abominated Temple and a Holy Community: The Formation of the Notions of Purity and Impurity in Qumran’, Dead Sea Discoveries, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 243–78.

Part Three: Religion in Thought

9. God and Angels

God: 11QPsa 26 (576); 1QM 10:12–15 (156–157); 1:8–10 (148)

Angels: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (462–475) songs 1, 6, 7, 9, 12

Schiffman, 145–57, 355–62.

Cook, Edward M., 2000, ‘What Did the Jews of Qumran Know about God and How Did They Know It’, in J. Neusner, A. J. Avery-Peck and B. Chilton (eds.), Judaism in Late Antiquity 5,2: The Judaism of Qumran: A Systemic Reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls: World View, Comparing Judaisms, HdO 57. E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Collins, John J., 2000, ‘Powers in Heaven: God, Gods, and Angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in JJ Collins and RA Kugler (eds.), Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

10. Dualism and Predestination

Dualism: 1QS 3:13–4:26 (120–22)

Predestination: 1QS 3:15–17 (120); 1QH 9:7–34 (178–179); 20:8–11 (198); CD 2:7–10 (53)

Dimant, Devorah, 1998, ‘Dualism at Qumran: New Perspectives’, in JH Charlesworth (ed.), Caves of Enlightenment; Proceedings of the American Schools of Oriental Research Dead Sea Scrolls Jubilee Symposium (1947–1997), Bibal Press, North Richland Hills, TX.

Alexander, Philip S., 2006, ‘Predestination and Free Will in the Theology of the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in JMG Barclay and SJ Gathercole (eds.), Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment, T&T Clark, London, UK.

11. Eschatology and the End of Days

Eschatology: 1QpHab 2:9–10 (81), 7:10–14 (84–85); 1QSb (136–140)

The Eschatological War: 1QM 1–2 (146–150)

Schiffman, 223–41, 329–39.

Collins, John J., 1997, ‘The Expectation of the End in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in CA Evans and PW Flint (eds.), Eschatology, Messianism and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.

Knibb, Michael A., ‘Eschatology and Messianism in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, in PW Flint and JC VanderKam (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment, Vol. 2, E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

12. Messianism

4Q175 (258–260); 1QS 9:11 (143); 1QSb 5:20–29 (143); 4Q285 (368–71)

Schiffman, 317–27.

Beall, Todd S., 2001, ‘History and Eschatology at Qumran: Messiah’, in AJ Avery-Peck, J Neusner and BD Chilton (eds.), Judaism in Late Antiquity 5,2: The Judaism of Qumran: A Systematic Reading of the Dead Sea Scrolls, HdO 57, E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Collins, John J., 1994, ‘The Works of the Messiah’, Dead Sea Discoveries, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 98–112.

13. Resurrection

1QS 4:6–8 (121); 4Q521 (530–32); 4Q385 2 + 3 (448)

Schiffman, 341–50.

Puech, Emile, 1994, ‘Messianism, Resurrection, and Eschatology at Qumran and the New Testament’, in E Ulrich and J VanderKam (eds.), The Community of the Renewed Covenant: The Notre Dame Symposium on the Dead Sea Scrolls, CJAS 10, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN.

Davies, Philip R., 2000, ‘Death, Resurrection, and Life after Death in the Qumran Scrolls’, in AJ Avery-Peck and J Neusner (eds.), Judaism in Late Antiquity. Part IV, E.J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Focus Questions

  • 1The readings on the Qumran library and the history of the community should underscore the eclectic nature of the texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the difficulty in identifying one uniform group called the Qumran community. What challenges do these features present students studying religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls? What methodological approaches can be taken in response?
  • 2What is the attitude of the Dead Sea Scrolls toward sacrifice and the temple in Jerusalem? What alternative modes of ritual piety were developed by the community in exile from the temple?
  • 3How did the community view its place in the world: its relationship to God, ancient Israel, other Jews, and the Romans? How is this theological worldview reflected in the everyday life of the community?
  • 4Read the ‘Treatise on the Two Spirits’ (1QS 3:13–4:26) carefully. What central theological problems/issues is it addressing and how does it respond to them?
  • 5Can you detect any relationship between the archaeological evidence of the site of Qumran and the religious worldview of the Dead Sea Scrolls? In other words, in what way is the religious outlook of the community reflected in the daily life and social world of the community (as represented by the archaeological data)?

Seminar Activity

Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls in Context.

The religious worldview of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community must be situated within the larger social, theological, and literary world of Second Temple Judaism. At times, the Dead Sea Scrolls find striking points of correspondence with contemporary forms of Judaism, while at other times there is great variance. For this activity, each seminar student is assigned one of the general topics from the syllabus (e.g., prayer, messianism, etc.) or a specific text or textual unit.

Students will prepare a research paper due at the end of the semester. In addition, each student will be responsible for an in-class presentation on the day in which the specific topic or text is discussed for the Dead Sea Scrolls. Students should be ready to offer a coherent précis of their research-in-progress. As a starting point for research, students should consult the relevant entries in the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Students should draw upon the bibliography in the encyclopedia articles as well as the online bibliography of the Orion Center (http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/).

Research papers and seminar presentations should address the following issues:

  • 1Students should pick at least two other streams of Second Temple Judaism as points of comparison with the Qumran community. These may consist of a literary corpus (i.e., the writings of Josephus) or a social group as known from literary and/or archaeological evidence (e.g., the Sadducees). Keep in mind that the Dead Sea Scrolls often contain evidence regarding wider segments of Second Temple Judaism.
  • 2What theological, social, literary issues are involved in the topic? Outline the primary approaches of the respective groups and their points of contact and divergence. This treatment will be selective (one cannot treat every aspect of messianism, for example). Students should identify features that they think are significant for comparison.
  • 3Is there any evidence for a direct connection between the various views treated? In other words, can one be regarded as a later historical development? Is it possible to detect any evidence that the various groups treated were aware of the viewpoints of the others and formulated their own outlook in dialogue or contrast?
  • 4When relevant, brief mention may also be made of transformations from the religious world of the Hebrew Bible or later developments in early Christianity and/or Rabbinic Judaism.

Ancillary