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Scholars tend to view the Damascus Document as a historical source, but a reading of the text in light of contemporary (audience-oriented) literary criticism finds its emphasis in the ideological construction of history and communal identity, rather than in the preservation of a historical record.
An introduction to contemporary literary criticism is followed by a series of thematic readings, focusing on historical narrative, priestly imagery, and gender in the covenant community. Each theme is examined in terms of its potential for multiple (sometimes contradictory) interpretations and for its place in the larger sectarian discourse.
This study offers an alternative approach to the historiography of ancient Jewish sectarianism, acknowledging the presence of competing claims to shared traditions and the potential for changes in textual interpretation over time or among diverse communities.

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.

In: Dead Sea Discoveries
In: Reading for History in the Damascus Document
In: Reading for History in the Damascus Document
In: Reading for History in the Damascus Document
In: Reading for History in the Damascus Document
In: Reading for History in the Damascus Document