Women in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Tal Ilan

in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199207237
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Women in Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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  • Religion in the Ancient World



The question of women in Qumran is a recent one. The interest in, and awareness of, women on the site and in the scrolls was slow in coming, and associated with the emergence of intellectual feminism, which put as its chief goal the discovery of women where none had previously been noted. This external phenomenon was bolstered by two internal developments, strongly connected with Qumran research: 4QMMT, with its apparent similarity to Sadducee halakhah, created doubt with regard to the Essene hypothesis; the belated publication of all the documents from Qumran in the 1990s and 2000s made the cumulative presence of women in them ever more evident and difficult to ignore. This article presents an overview of women's appearance in the Qumran texts and discusses their history and state of research. It follows the conventional structure of dividing the Qumran library between biblical texts, apocryphal texts, and unique Qumran-sectarian texts.

Keywords: Qumran women; Qumran-sectarian texts; apocryphal texts; 4QMMT; Essene hypothesis; intellectual feminism; Sadducee halakhah

Article.  11508 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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