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The Hodayot / Hymns Scroll


(David MS Kinnen is a fourth-year undergraduate in the M.Theol. programme at the University of St. Andrews.--JRD)

In this paper we analyse, primarily, 1QH^a, 4Q427 and 4Q429 in order to identify the possible sectarian origin of the _Hodayot_, and their liturgical function - if indeed such a function existed.

1QH^a is one of the latest copies of the scroll, dating from the turn of the era. It includes two types of hymn: "Hymns of the Teacher" and "Hymns of the Community". We believe it is a composite document, and the use of two scribal hands is a possible indication of its creation from other sources. The composite nature of 1QH^a, alongside the distinctive collections of 4Q427 and 4Q429 would indicate that there was more than one author for the hymns.

The Sectarian origin of the _Hodayot_ we assert is indicated by the presence of distinctly dualistic theological ideas present throughout the hymns, as well as the presence of key Sectarian terms, such as _rabbim_, _yahad_ and _maskil_. Note, for example, 1QH^a XII. 24 which reads,

"those who unite /together [ya<.h>ad]/ for your covenant"

This line appears distinctly sectarian, in line with a sect described by 1QThe Community Rule. Furthermore, 1QH^a VII. 7 reads,

"And we have collected together as a Community (bya<.h>ad)"

representing use of the distinctly sectarian term of "yahad".

The Hymns are intended for use within a group that viewed itself as the true people of God, in distinction to a corrupt outside world that would seek to undermine it and its leaders. 1QH^a XIII. 22-25 details dissent within the Sect, and how it will be defeated by God and the leadership of the Sect.

We accept the hypothesis that 4Q427 was a distinct collection of Hymns of the Community which has a distinctive liturgical intention. This hypothesis has been advanced by Eileen Schuller. 4Q427 is identified as a source for the collection 1QH^a.

4Q429, a collection of Hymns of the Teacher, appears as a collection contemporary with 4Q427, whose use we are not altogether certain of.

A distinction is made between Hymns of the Community and Hymns of the Teacher to identify the function of each within a cultic-worship setting. The assumption is made that if these texts were serving a liturgical function it would be outwith the cultic setting of the Jerusalem Temple, and indeed, would stand in contra-distinction to the sacrifice-centred cultus of that system.

These hymns do not appear as dogmatic teaching instruments; though the theological content is distinctly sectarian, they assume more about that theology than they tell. Their intention was as thanksgiving within a sectarian group. Though they lack specific instruction for their use at particular festivals or times, the Hymns do contain liturgical aspects, in particular 4Q427, which would indicate some form of cultic use.

(c) 2001
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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