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orion Re: Sects
Tilde Binger wrote:
"sectarian self-understanding in various works found
at the site . . . 'us' against the rest of the world
. . . etc. etc. . . . So, yes, I would tend to agree
with whoever designates the ones that deposited the
texts at Qumran as a 'sect' . . . You should read your
Isaiah again Ian. (I am grinning wickedly here)"
Tilde's wicked grin illustrates the uselessness of the
term "sect" in this overheated discussion. After all
these years Talmon's old idea of simply calling a certain
cluster of texts "yachad" texts has much to commend it.
This is a term which marks a certain class of texts which
do form an interesting cluster. These include all exemplars
of the Community Rule, CD, War Scroll, pesharim, and
Thanksgiving Hymns texts. To this core cluster of texts
others might be added, case by case, argument by argument.
The basis for the core cluster is not the motifs noted by
Tilde in association with the notion of "sect" which extend
to much of the biblical canon and pseudepigrapha, but
rather certain distinctive uses of language, vocabulary,
and the "yachad" term itself in these texts. Talmon's
"yachad" designation is precise, specific, and functional.
It does not give confusion because with one possible
exception (the Qumran ostracon reading) there seems to be
no known comparable use of the term "yachad" outside of this
core cluster of Qumran texts.
Can this be agreed as a starting point simply as neutral
description? If so then some interesting discussion might
move forward. Did all of the "yachad" texts come from a
single social organization, network, or phenomenon, and do
the "yachads" of the texts have external referents? With
many on this list I would answer yes and yes, but add a
third proposal: that the "yachad" was short-lived and that
all "yachad" text copies are virtually contemporary.
All three of these are interesting propositions but must be
argued, and are not intrinsically obvious without argument.
Discussion of propositions such as these might at least
become fruitful and possible if Talmon's term becomes the
descriptive term of choice.