Converts in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Gēr and Mutable Ethnicity


Author: Carmen Palmer
Converts in the Dead Sea Scrolls examines the meaning of the term gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls. While often interpreted as a resident alien, this study of the term as it is employed within scriptural rewriting in the Dead Sea Scrolls concludes that the gēr is a Gentile convert to Judaism. Contrasting the gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls against scriptural predecessors, Carmen Palmer finds that a conversion is possible by means of mutable ethnicity. Furthermore, mutable features of ethnicity in the sectarian movement affiliated with the Dead Sea Scrolls include shared kinship, connection to land, and common culture in the practice of circumcision. The sectarian movement is not as closed toward Gentiles as has been commonly considered.

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Carmen Palmer, Ph.D. (2016), University of St. Michael’s College, instructs Biblical Hebrew at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto. Her publications include an article on scriptural rewriting, and Foreigner and Gentile entries in the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception.
This marvelous volume offers a broad range that opens with a specific terminological problem in the scrolls, then answers it by suggesting a new way to classify the scrolls and by simultaneously highlighting implications of this research for the ancient Mediterranean broadly conceived. The original and meticulous work of this excellent study offer snew and exciting directions for social studies on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Aryeh Amihay, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly This volume is a valuable contribution to the understanding of the role of conversion within ancient sectarian Judaism. The gērîm represent an important part of how ethnicity was perceived during the Late Second Temple period.
Joseph Scales, SOTS Book List, 2019
Acknowledgments Ix
List of AbbreviationsII
Key to Symbols

1 Introduction
 1.1 Context 5
 1.2 Problem and Significance
 1.3 Response: Methodology
 1.4 Chapter Outlines

2 Provenance and Dating of the Gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls
 2.1 Overview of the Provenance of the Sectarian Movement and the Damascus and Serekh Traditions
 2.2 Means of Establishing Provenance and Dating of the Texts
 2.3 An Assessment of the Occasions Where the Term Gēr Has Been Employed
 2.4 Chapter Conclusions

3 A Textual Study of the Gēr in the Dead Sea Scrolls
 3.1 A Text That Influences Damascus (D) and Serekh (S) Traditions: 4Q423 Instructiong Frag. 5, 1–4
 3.2 Texts Correlated with the Damascus (D) Tradition
 3.3 Texts Correlated with the Serekh (S) Tradition
 3.4 Texts Correlated with the Sectarian Movement: Alignment with Damascus (D) or Serekh (S) Tradition Indeterminate
 3.5 Chapter Conclusions

4 Locating the Gēr and Assessing Ethnic Identity in the Sectarian Movement
 4.1 Shared Kinship as a Marker of Ethnic Identity in the Sectarian Movement: How Gēr Represents Kin
 4.2 Connection to Land as a Feature of Ethnic Identity: Gēr’s Incorporation in the Promise of Land
 4.3 Common Culture in the Covenantal Practice of Circumcision as a Feature of Ethnic Identity in the Sectarian Movement
 4.4 Ethnic Identity in the Sectarian Movement Chapter Conclusions

5 Sociohistorical Comparison between the Sectarian Movement and Greco-Roman Associations
 5.1 Greco-Roman Associations: An Introduction
 5.2 Greco-Roman Noncosanguinal Brothers: Professional Associations
 5.3 Greco-Roman Noncosanguinal Brothers: Cultic Associations
 5.4 Shared Kinship and Mutable Ethnicity in the Brothers of Greco-Roman Associations: Conclusions
6 Conclusion
 6.1 Summary of Findings  6.2 Further Implications for Scholarship
 6.3 Proposals for Further Research
All interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the sectarian movement affiliated with them, the gēr in scriptural and rabbinic tradition, ethnicity theory, Greco-Roman associations, and early Judaism and Christianity.