This article examines the ways in which a single liturgical text, the Words of the Luminaries, would be read by two diachronically and ideologically different audiences: the implied audience of the pre-Qumranic author and the actual audience of the Yaḥad community at Qumran, which preserved this text. The text’s first person plural rhetorical stance invites the implied audience to identify with its “we, Israel” voice and with the fundamental beliefs, ideas, and values encoded in the “we” discourse. These major ideological themes conjoined with the pan-Israelite rhetorical stance convey messages about identity and ideology that are dissonant with the Yaḥad’s deterministic, dualistic ideology and sectarian identity as the elect “Congregation of God.” Nonetheless, the common past, foundational narratives, and shared values, especially regarding the Torah, would facilitate the Yaḥad’s reception of this originally non-Qumranic text and enable it to be read through the lens of the Yaḥad’s sectarian identity.
This chapter surveys the Qumran corpus, and lays out the liturgical texts that are most relevant to the question. Then it examines two of the many examples of close correspondence between the pre-70 CE liturgies and post-70 CE Jewish liturgy. The implications for the question at hand are drawn out in the conclusion. The Qumran corpus preserves more than 300 discrete hymns, prayers, and psalms - including about one hundred biblical psalms. The chapter illustrates the liturgical continuity by two examples found in the important liturgical collections of non-Qumranic origin. The first case is the systematic use of blessing formulae to open and close liturgical prayers. The second case is the petition "to implant Your Torah in our heart" in the Thursday prayer of the Words of the Luminaries.