4QMMT in the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls and beyond

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Authors

  • Heinz-Guenther Nesselrath (Editor)
  • Reinhard Feldmeier (Editor)
  • Reinhard Kratz (Editor)
  • Charlotte Hempel

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Sapere Project, Georg August Universitaet Goettingen

Abstract

This chapter challenges the ubiquitous assessment of 4QMMT as shedding light on the reasons for the secession of the movement behind the Dead Sea Scrolls from fellow Jews. On the basis of a rigorous analysis of the preserved text of 4QMMT as it emerges from the New Edition in the same volume we demonstrate that the “they-group,” hitherto universally considered as a hallmark of 4QMMT’s distinctive outsider discourse, is an integral part of the rich spectrum of halakhic discourse reflected within the Dead Sea Scrolls. We expose material that epitomizes the views of the ultimate outsiders represented by the they-group maligned in 4QMMT as interlocutors whose voices are preserved in other Scrolls. By laying bare both sides of the polarised halakhic debate in 4QMMT as part and parcel of inner-Qumranic discourse as much as engagement with outsiders also offers an innovative explanation for the eirenic tone of the work that has puzzled scholars for so long. The lack of a unified halakhic stance in the Dead Sea Scrolls exposed by our analysis demonstrates that the material preserved in the eleven caves at and near Qumran enriches our knowledge of ancient Jewish legal debate beyond the confines of a single group.

Our findings offer a more panoramic reading of the contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls to ancient Jewish legal debate. Given that both emerging Christianity and rabbinic Judaism evolved in response to debate and disagreements on how to interpret and live according to Jewish Law, we close by highlighting that the Scrolls have a much larger role to play in writing the history of Jewish antiquity and the story of the development of two world religions than previously recognized.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpreting and Living God’s Law at Qumran
Subtitle of host publicationMiqṣat Maʿaśe ha-Torah, Some of the Works of the Torah (4QMMT)
EditorsReinhard G. Kratz
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Publication series

NameScripta Antiquitatis Posterioris ad Ethicam REligionemque pertinentia
Volume37