Article

Was the Dead Sea Sect a Penitential Movement?

David Lambert

in The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199207237
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199207237.003.0022

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Was the Dead Sea Sect a Penitential Movement?

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In several important ways, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide an unusually rich context in which to investigate ancient religious phenomena. This article considers the case of repentance, a mainstay of Western religions and a concept that has been called upon to explain aspects of various practices in the scrolls, such as initiation, punishment, and prayer, all of which come to play a role in penitential rites. It has been said, through analogy with one common representation of the Jesus movement, that the Dead Sea sect was a penitential movement, that Israel's repentance was one of its central tasks. The discussion argues that, on the contrary, it is anachronistic to speak of repentance as a concept operative at Qumran, and that the sect had recourse to a significantly different complex of terms, all related to what is referred to here as a notion of ‘divine re-creation’.

Keywords: repentance; Western religions; penitential rites; Jesus movement; Dead Sea sect; Israel; divine re-creation

Article.  6042 words. 

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

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