Atonement and sectarianism in Qumran: Defining a sectarian worldview in moral and halakhic systems

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Abstract

Since the early stages of the study of the scrolls found in Qumran, scholars have noticed the central place of atonement in the belief-system of the writers of the scrolls. The attention given by Christian scholars of theology to the concept of atonement was natural, but by no means overstated. I regard atonement as the major aim of both the members of yahad and the Damascus Covenant. Here I would like to discuss the ideological background for the concept of atonement in Qumran as well as its relevance to the understanding of its halakhic system. I would like to approach it from rather unconventional perspectives: the study of sectarianism in the sociology of religion, and what I call “comparative sectarianism.” Almost everyone would agree that writings such as the Community Rule, the Damascus Document, the Hodayot and the Pesharim were composed by a sectarian movement, that is sometimes called “the Qumran Community” (though actually referring to several different communities with considerable differences) or “the Qumran sectarians.” It is therefore quite obvious that we should study these sources in a way similar to those that are used in the study of the sociology of religion in relation to sects in general. In order to do so we should first define what is the most essential feature of sectarian worldview, namely, what is the major point of departure that characterizes sectarian worldview (or ideology).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSectarianism in Early Judaism
Subtitle of host publicationSociological Advances
PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd
Pages180-204
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781845535568
ISBN (Print)1845530837, 9781845530839
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2004

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© David J. Chalcraft and contributors 2007. All rights reserved.

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