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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In several important ways, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide an unusually rich context in which to investigate ancient religious phenomena. This article considers the case of repentance, a mainstay of Western religions and a concept that has been called upon to explain aspects of various practices in the scrolls, such as initiation, punishment, and prayer, all of which come to play a role in penitential rites. It has been said, through analogy with one common representation of the Jesus movement, that the Dead Sea sect was a penitential movement, that Israel's repentance was one of its central tasks. The discussion argues that, on the contrary, it is anachronistic to speak of repentance as a concept operative at Qumran, and that the sect had recourse to a significantly different complex of terms, all related to what is referred to here as a notion of ‘divine re-creation’.

Keywords: repentance, Western religions, penitential rites, Jesus movement, Dead Sea sect, Israel, divine re-creation

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