Prayer and Identity in Varying Contexts: The Case of the Words of the Luminaries

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This article examines the ways in which a single liturgical text, the Words of the Luminaries, would be read by two diachronically and ideologically different audiences: the implied audience of the pre-Qumranic author and the actual audience of the Yahad community at Qumran, which preserved this text. The text's first person plural rhetorical stance invites the implied audience to identify with its "we, Israel" voice and with the fundamental beliefs, ideas, and values encoded in the "we" discourse. These major ideological themes conjoined with the pan-Israelite rhetorical stance convey messages about identity and ideology that are dissonant with the Yahad's deterministic, dualistic ideology and sectarian identity as the elect "Congregation of God." Nonetheless, the common past, foundational narratives, and shared values, especially regarding the Torah, would facilitate the Yahad's reception of this originally non-Qumranic text and enable it to be read through the lens of the Yahad's sectarian identity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)484-511
Number of pages28
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2015


  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • identity
  • prayer
  • Qumran
  • Words of the Luminaries

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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