Qumran Calendars and Sectarianism

Sacha Stern

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

Qumran Calendars and Sectarianism

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  • Religion in the Ancient World
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The main principles of Qumran calendars are known to most scholars, but only a small circle of specialists have studied them in detail. The centrality of the calendars to Qumran culture, and more particularly sectarianism, was already recognized in the first decade of Qumran scholarship, chiefly by Shemaryahu Talmon, who went as far as arguing that the calendar was one of the cornerstones of Qumran's sectarian schism. This article first assesses the extent to which Qumran calendars differed from other Jewish calendars, both as literary compositions and – if Qumran calendars were ever used in practice – as structures of communal and religious life. The final part of this article assesses their long-standing interpretation as cornerstones of Qumran sectarianism. Qumran calendars can almost all be reduced to a single, common denominator: the 364-day year.

Keywords: Qumran calendars; Jewish calendars; Qumran sectarianism; religious life; 364-day year; Shemaryahu Talmon

Article.  10084 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religion in the Ancient World ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Christianity

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