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Title: Law and Society in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Authors: Amihay, Aryeh
Advisors: Himmelfarb, Martha
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Dead Sea Scrolls
Hebrew Bible
Legal theory
Subjects: Judaic studies
Religious history
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The study of the legal texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls requires a theoretical framework that is informed by contemporary legal scholarship. The shift from the comparative approach, which focuses on parallels from either Early Christian or early rabbinic sources is presented here through exploration of four theoretical concepts: Legal essentialism, Intentionality, Exclusion, and Obligation. Legal Essentialism is a new term proposed to substitute previous terminology of "realism" (in contrast to "nominalism," defined in this study as "legal formalism"). This Essentialism is then demonstrated in four aspects: time, space, hierarchy, and knowledge. Chapter 2 examines the role of intention in the law as an important prism to understand the tensions created by and solutions found for the sectarians' legal essentialism. Using the work of philosophers G. E. M. Anscombe and Robert Audi, the concept of intention is defined and separated from desire and action. A special section examines the idiom "high hand" and distinguishes its biblical usage (primarily in Num 15), and its usage in the sectarian writings, primarily in the Community Rule (1QS). The concept of Exclusion is the focus of chapter 3, primarily through the epistle called Some of the Deeds of the Torah (4QMMT), and with many comparisons to 1QS. Through the work of legal scholars Meir Dan-Cohen and Martha Minow the role of exclusion in constituting the community and reflecting their legal essentialist stance is clarified. The role of emotions and rhetoric of emotions in exclusion is also explored in relation to contemporary theories of law and emotion. Finally, a distinction is made between permanent-static exclusions based on deformities, and temporary-dynamic exclusions based on moral conduct. This distinction demonstrates the previously discussed roles of legal essentialism and intention in the law. Chapter 4 examines obligation and commitment, borrowing the terms "transcendence" and "renunciation" from sociologist Rosabeth Moss Kanter. The tension between obligation to God and obligation to community is described using Kierkegaard, suggesting that this tension is mediated through interpretative authority in the sect. The final chapter examines the laws of premarital sex in the Pentateuch and in 4Q159, the Damascus Document (4QD) and the Temple Scroll to examine the previous issues in a specific study case of legal interpretation and innovation, highlighting different motivations between a sectarian text (4QD) and a non-sectarian text (the Temple Scroll). The conclusion highlights the benefits of applying contemporary theory in general and legal theory in particular to the study of ancient texts, and especially to the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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