Intimations of Novelty Concealed at Qumran
This chapter examines the clearest evidence of an ancient Jewish embrace of innovation: the scattered references to a “new covenant” preserved in various Dead Sea Scrolls. While the term “new” does appear a few fleeting times in this body of literature, this chapter explores how any intimations of innovation at Qumran are gradually buried beneath alternate discourses, such as covenant renewal, the discovery of hidden meanings, and the fundamentally dualistic (and nonchronological) “Two Ways.” The question of Qumranic secrecy is also explored. An excursus to this chapter reconsiders Hazon Gabriel, the so-called Dead Sea Scroll in stone, which may, by some readings, also refer to a “new covenant.” Reasons for doubting the authenticity of this unprovenanced artifact are considered.
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