Sectarian Literature


War Scroll

War Scroll

From the very beginning of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was clear that they were of great importance for understanding the history of development of Judaism. Although there is much to be learned from the scrolls about the ideas and laws of the Qumran sect, they also tell us much about the general state of Jewish law and theology during the Hasmonean period. These documents allow us to constuct a fuller picture of Pharasaic and Sadducean law, attituded toward the authority of the Torah and the state of biblical translation and interpretation.

Jewish groups in the Second Temple period differed greatly on theological issues. They also interpreted the halakha (Jewish law) differently, but they all agreed that Jewish law was binding and they were distinguished from the non-Jews primarily by their observance of Torah commandments, specifically the Sabbath, abstaining from pork and circumcising male babies.

Study of the Qumran texts demonstrates that the Judaism of the Second Temple period was quite diverse. In this section, we focus on the ideas espoused by the Dead Sea sect and what they teach us about the concepts and beliefs prevalent in Jewish groups of the time.

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