The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah)

The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah)

Carol A. Newsom

Language: English

Pages: 392

ISBN: 1589832981

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This volume investigates critical practices by which the Qumran community constituted itself as a sectarian society. Key to the formation of the community was the reconstruction of the identity of individual members. In this way the "self" became an important symbolic space for the development of the ideology of the sect. Persons who came to experience themselves in light of the narratives and symbolic structures embedded in the community practices would have developed the dispositions of affinity and estrangement necessary for the constitution of a sectarian society. Drawing on various theories of discourse and practice in rhetoric, philosophy, and anthropology, the book examines the construction of the self in two central documents: the Serek ha-Yahad and the Hodayot.

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elders, are the special guardians of the law, responsible for its sabbatical public reading (Deut 31:11). What is distinctive about Deuteronomy is not the role of the priests vis-à-vis torah, or even the role of torah itself, but rather the way Deuteronomy talks about torah. The rhetorical distance between Leviticus and Deuteronomy is significant. Although Leviticus is punctuated with periodic notices that Yahweh said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel and say . . .,” the literary setting

its intellectual horizons. The Enochic books hold pride of place in Jubilees, above all for their astronomical lore, essential for proper understanding of the calendar. The author of Jubilees also takes note of Enoch’s knowledge of the details of heavenly realia, his proleptic account and moral analysis of human history until the day of judgment, as well as his account of his witness against the Watchers. Noah’s book contains herbal remedies for illnesses caused by evil spirits. Jacob’s book

families, learned by doing (for instance, by observing the Sabbath). The pious Susanna was no biblical scholar, but she was taught by her parents how to live according to the Law of Moses.” 82 In his survey of the evidence Sanders ( Judaism, 406) adopts in modified form the arguments of Finkelstein and Ginzberg that the Pharisees may have been modest merchants and traders or small independent landowners. With a somewhat different emphasis Saldarini suggests that they were “subordinate officials,

public disputes or from disclosing the “hidden things” revealed to them, however, does not mean that they failed to make an appeal based on knowledge. Their very reserve served as a powerful instrument of appeal, enhancing their reputation for possessing valuable secrets. In a similar fashion the difficulty of entering the community—and the total commitment required of one who did—served to give the Qumran sectarians a certain cachet among the groups competing for influence. If one takes up

social dialects is complicated by the fact that people always speak a variety of such dialects. Bakhtin gives the example of the “illiterate peasant, miles away from any urban center . . . [who] nevertheless lived in several language systems: he prayed to God in one language (Church Slavonic), sang 4 5 Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination, 262–63, 290–91; Voloshinov, 93. Terdiman, Discourse/Counter-Discourse, 54. 8   songs in another, spoke to his family in a third and, when he began to

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