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The Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Study of the Rule of the CongregationLawrence H. Schiffman
This study analyzes a significant text from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Rule of the Congregation, which appears as an appendix to the Manual of Discipline. The Rule of the Congregation highlights the eschatological aspirations of the Dead Sea sect, the group of Second Temple period sectarians who lived near the caves of Qumran between approximately 200 B.C.E. and 68 C.E. and whose manuscripts constitute the Dead Sea Scrolls. Based on photographs of the text and suggested reconstructions, the entire text is examined in detail, with particular reference to the laws and procedures pertaining in the conduct of the community. Through the auspices of this study, the law and ideology of the Qumran sect are revealed and then situated within the history of Jewish messianic thought more broadly. Not only is the Rule of the Congregation shown to be the quintessence of Qumran’s eschatological beliefs, but Schiffman also demonstrates how the messianism of Qumran, which was utopian in character, diverged from other streams of messianic thought in ancient Judaism.