Women at Qumran

A report of the public session of the Dead Sea Scrolls conference which dealt with women and Qumran can be found at Mystical Politics.  The question of whether there were women at Qumran is an important one because the identification of the Dead Sea Sect with the Essenes is based on the assumption that both groups were celibate.  Josephus does mention “another order of Essenes” who did marry, although with many restrictions.  If we view the term “Essene” as a general name for a number of closely related groups, it may be possible to separate the issue of women’s presence from the issue of the identification of the sect.

More on this subject at Overview: Identification of the Sect.

Via PaleoJudaica.com.

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2 Comments on “Women at Qumran”

  1. View from Here Says:

    As stated in a comment on the Mystical Politics site, the entire series of historians and archaeologists who have rejected the Qumran-sectarian theory over the past ten years were carefully excluded from participating in this so-called “conference” put on by members of the old Dead Sea scrolls monopoly group to defend that theory.

    Why weren’t Magen and Peleg invited to respond to Jodi Magness? And how interesting that the other sessions were “private” affairs. For pertinent context, see http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/charity-fund-involved-dead-sea-scrolls-conflict

    Pliny’s account, on which the identification of Qumran as a sectarian site was based, describes the Essenes of the Dead Sea area as celibate. The discovery of women and children in the cemetery obviously poses an enormous problem for anyone who wishes to identify Qumran with the site described by Pliny.

    In view of the compelling evidence pointing towards the Jerusalem area as the place of origin of the DSS (see, most recently, Magen and Peleg’s official IAA report), it is almost embarrassing to hear of people continuing to talk about the “Qumran Sect” as if it were an established truth.

  2. Peter Kaufman Says:

    And so we learn, once again, that opponents of the Qumran-sectarian theory have been excluded from taking part in a conference panel organized by their opponents. Such participation alone would have lent the session (which, no doubt, will eventually be published as “proceedings” in some book) scientific legitimacy.

    I too would like to know why Magness is systematically trotted out as the “authority” on Qumran, while Magen and Peleg as well as other opponents of hers are systematically excluded from participating.

    We have seen this over and over again now, at ASOR, SBL, and one “international conference” after another. Do the organizers of these events think that no one knows what is going on? Have they no sense of shame or decency, at long last?


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