Acts of Torah  [4QMMT (4Q394-399)]

Hebrew: Miqsat Ma'ase ha Torah

Letter from the leader of a separatist community to a royal figure detailing regulations related to purity issues & sacrifices that distinguish his group from "the majority of the nation." Unlike other works found at Qumran, this text presupposes participation in the temple cult. One ruling regarding the contamination of a vessel from which a liquid is poured agrees with later Sadducean disputes with Pharisees. Otherwise the style & content of progressive rulings not based on the text of Torah resemble rabbinic halakah rather than literalistic Sadducean principles. Unlike the Sadducees the author warns of an impending last judgment. Since 1986 this letter has become central to the argument of scholars who dispute the identification of the Dead Sea scrolls as Essene works.

Other resources on line:

  • Some Torah Precepts -- image & English translation of 4Q396 from on-line Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit of the Library of Congress.

  • 4QMMT - Reconstruction of halakhic letter from Garcia Martinez' 1998 English translation of Dead Sea Scrolls. 


Other important Dead Sea Scrolls

Perspective on the World of Jesus

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