Esoteric wisdom texts from Qumran

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The dominant approach to sapiential compositions found in the caves at and near Qumran has been based on traditional views of the wisdom books of the Hebrew Bible. The intention here is to look rather at the likely contexts of the transmission of the sapiential literature in the movement that preserved the Scrolls. In so doing, particular attention is given to esoteric writings. The first part of the paper outlines three key factors that indicate how a change of perspective might be justified and facilitated, namely views among biblical scholars that the overarching category of Wisdom Literature has lost much of its heuristic value, early Jewish views on evil and how to deal with it, and views on secrecy in early Judaism. The second major part is a brief consideration of sapiential compositions in the light of those key factors, suggesting a hierarchy of texts to match the social hierarchy and its accompanying hierarchy of knowledge for the group responsible for collecting the Scrolls in the caves at and near Qumran.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
JournalJournal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Issue number2
Early online date8 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2020


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