Religious Experience and the Discipline of Imagination

Tanya Luhrmann Meets Philo and the Dead Sea Scrolls

in Dead Sea Discoveries
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Tanya Luhrmann’s explorations of religious consciousness address the structures of bodily, cognitive, and emotional discipline that contribute in specific ways to the cultivation of a particular experience of religious phenomena as real. Attention to Luhrmann’s methods provides a new set of tools for exploring dynamics of religious experience in an ancient Jewish context. The example of Philo’s Therapeutae serves as counterpoint for a discussion of disciplinary practices in the sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls. Evidence for the disciplines of silent patient listening and tolerance for public judgment in the scrolls, along with descriptions of intensive study and prayer-practices suggest an atmosphere in which sectarians might have been primed to experience divine revelation, most likely through the authority of an angelic mediator. Attention to religious experience provides insights not only into sectarian life but also into some possible dynamics underlying the composition and development of textual traditions.

Religious Experience and the Discipline of Imagination

Tanya Luhrmann Meets Philo and the Dead Sea Scrolls

in Dead Sea Discoveries

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References

8

Robert A. Orsi“Introduction to the Third Edition,” in The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem 1880–1950 (3d ed.; New Haven Conn.: Yale University Press 2010) xxi.

10

T. M. LuhrmannPersuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press1989) 312.

11

Ibid.183–84; see William James “Mysticism” in The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York n.y.: Penguin Putnam 1958) 318–57.

12

LuhrmannPersuasions of the Witch’s Craft191.

13

Ibid.221–29.

14

Ibid.233236–37.

15

Ibid.181.

17

Ibid.101.

18

Ibid.111.

19

Ibid.113–17.

20

Ibid.117–19.

21

Ibid.119–22.

22

Ibid.122–26.

23

Ibid.126.

24

Ibid.134.

25

Ibid.152.

26

Ibid.184.

48

On this point see esp. Alex P. Jassen“Revelatory Exegesis in Second Temple Literary Traditions,” in Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (Leiden: Brill2007) 213–40. I thank the anonymous reviewer of this article for this observation and reference.

49

See Carol A. NewsomSongs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press1985); Devorah Dimant “Men as Angels: The Self-Image of the Qumran Community” in Religion and Politics in the Ancient Near East (ed. Adele Berlin; Bethesda Md.: University of Maryland 1996) 93–103; Crispin Fletcher-Louis All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Leiden: Brill 2002); Benjamin G. Wold Women Men and Angels (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2005).

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