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Re: orion Focus of DSS research
There are always two parts to anything that you want to understand, as I
tell my undergraduate students, that which you can see, and that which you
cannot see. That which you cannot see always determines the meaning of that
which you can see. It is the context. If you change the context, the
meaning of what you can see--for example, a text--also changes.
For example, the story of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament is the
Christian story of the first Adam that points to the Second Adam, Jesus, of
the New Testament. In the Tanak, Adam points to the people Israel; where
he failed in his allegiance to God, they succeeded. In the context of
Islam, Adam is the first of a long line of failed prophets, messengers of
Allah. His failure points to the ultimate success of Mohammed as Allah's
last messenger. So, as you see, change the context, change the meaning of
the text--even though the text itself does not change.
So, what is the context for understanding the DSS? It is linked to the
author. If the author was a Jerusalem priest--or several--then the DSS
mean something different than if the authors are members of a group
isolated at Khirbet Qumran. If the DSS are the product of Jerusalem Temple
priests, then they mean something different than if they were written by
Sadducees, Pharisees, or members of the rabbinic movement.
P.S. There is no such thing as normative Judaism in the first-century ce,
unless you refer to the sacrificial practices of the Temple cult.
Rabbinism had not even begun yet, and it certainly did not become
'normative' in any sense for several centuries.
Paul V. M. Flesher, Director
Religious Studies Program
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82071-3353