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Lost and Stolen Property at Qumran: The “Oath of Adjuration”

Lost and Stolen Property at Qumran: The “Oath of Adjuration” This article examines the procedure concerning lost and stolen property that we find in cd-a 9:8-16, with a particular focus on the “oath of adjuration” or “oath-curse” in this passage. This is placed first in the context of the biblical material which, it has long been recognised, had a considerable impact on the formulation of this procedure. The primary focus, however, is on examining the way in which the oath of adjuration was envisaged to function and what we may learn from this about the operation of justice within the movement. It is argued that the oath relied heavily upon the religious and social ideals of the group but was also in itself an enactment of these ideas, and thus functioned in part as a performative expression of the group identity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal for the Study of Judaism Brill

Lost and Stolen Property at Qumran: The “Oath of Adjuration”

Journal for the Study of Judaism , Volume 47 (1): 88 – Feb 18, 2016

Lost and Stolen Property at Qumran: The “Oath of Adjuration”


Introduction 1 The Qumran rule texts contain a range of regulations on proper conduct within the movement, 2 some of which relate quite closely to juridical matters and legal procedure. 3 Such procedural regulations can be extremely valuable in helping us understand the fundamental tenets that lie behind the ideas of justice administration and law enforcement in the movement. By considering how these procedures were envisaged to function, we might gain insight into the values and ideas that underpin the group identity. The following paper will concentrate on just one of these procedural regulations—namely that concerning lost and stolen property—with this aim in mind. Historical details and dynamics seen elsewhere in the ancient world can provide a good backdrop for further thinking about procedure as laid out in the scrolls. The most common comparison that is drawn between the Qumran rule texts and their Graeco-Roman context is with associations, on which some very productive work has been done. 4 Yet the Qumran movement is, of course, somewhat distinctive in character: for example, the influence of scripture and the importance of scriptural exegesis for the movement is undeniable. What I hope, in part, to do here is approach the regulations on lost and stolen property found in the Damascus Document (henceforth D) with both the influence of the biblical text and the wider historical context fully in mind, employing comparative material from a diverse evidence base to this end: scriptural interpretation sits within the broader historical, social, and cultural context of the Qumran movement. Before proceeding any further, I wish to sound a note of caution: in the following, I am not claiming that the regulation in question definitely does or does not represent an exact practice carried out in a particular historical community. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to try to reconstruct historical practice from the Dead Sea Scrolls or detect...
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0047-2212
eISSN
1570-0631
DOI
10.1163/15700631-12340447
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines the procedure concerning lost and stolen property that we find in cd-a 9:8-16, with a particular focus on the “oath of adjuration” or “oath-curse” in this passage. This is placed first in the context of the biblical material which, it has long been recognised, had a considerable impact on the formulation of this procedure. The primary focus, however, is on examining the way in which the oath of adjuration was envisaged to function and what we may learn from this about the operation of justice within the movement. It is argued that the oath relied heavily upon the religious and social ideals of the group but was also in itself an enactment of these ideas, and thus functioned in part as a performative expression of the group identity.

Journal

Journal for the Study of JudaismBrill

Published: Feb 18, 2016

Keywords: Qumran; Damascus Document; oath; curse; legal procedure

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