Conceptions of Masculinity in the Scrolls and the Gendered Emotion of Anger

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
Ari Mermelstein Yeshiva University

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This paper considers the sectarian construction of masculinity as it pertains to the emotion of anger. The hegemonic masculinity in antiquity reserves legitimate expressions of anger for men. Sectarian anger, which is a hierarchical emotion bound up in power relations, likewise reflects the sectarian conception of masculinity.

The sect’s view of anger approximates Aristotle’s insistence that anger should be limited to certain circumstances and in relation to certain people. Intra-sectarian anger is inappropriate because it endangers the spirit of love or respect for high-status members that should characterize sectarian relations. Anger toward outsiders, however, is not only permitted but expected. The sect’s awareness of the coming “day of vengeance” demands that they align themselves with God by passing judgment on the sinner. By properly calibrating their manliness through the emotion of anger, the sect navigates a fine line between assertions of power and an acknowledgement that their power ultimately is attributable to God.

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