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Meaning and Context in the Thanksgiving Hymns

Meaning and Context in the Thanksgiving Hymns: Linguistic and Rhetorical Perspectives on a Collection of Prayers from Qumran

Trine B. Hasselbalch
  • Book Info
    Meaning and Context in the Thanksgiving Hymns
    Book Description:

    A new reading strategy for the Thanksgiving Hymns

    Hasselbalch asserts that current theories about the social background of Thanksgiving Hymns are unable to explain its heterogeneous character. Instead the author suggests a reading strategy that leaves presumptions about the underlying social contexts aside to instead consider the collection's hybridity as a clue to understanding the collection as a whole.


    Systemic Functional Linguistics applied to four HodayotAnalysis that highlights the role of a mediator in the agency of GodAn approach that highlights the unity of the collection

    eISBN: 978-1-62837-055-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-40)

    It can be tempting for a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar working on ancient texts on the basis of damaged manuscripts to complain about the missing parts and think it is they that prevent her from fully understanding a text. It is tempting to surmise things about the contents of a missing line, thinking it might be the clue to wonderful new insights, and it is frustrating not to know for sure. One is aware that something is missing and cautious not to ignore this.

    However, it is not only in the handling of material that caution is called for. Also...

  5. 2 Special Methodological Issues
    (pp. 41-74)

    The various methods involved in this study have been introduced briefly in connection with an overview of the book chapters. Of these methods, Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) deserves special attention because it belongs to a specialized field of its own and is rarely seen in biblical and dead Sea Scrolls studies. SFL has been developed by M. A. K. Halliday and others for the purpose of analyzing different kinds of meaning in discourse.¹ In this study, I am indebted in particular to linguist Suzanne Eggins’s introduction to SFL, which is user-friendly and accessible to non-linguists.² SFL has been developed with...

  6. 3 Leadership and Credibility: 1QHa VI 19–33
    (pp. 75-124)

    1QHaVI 19–33 is generally considered a community hymn because of the formal feature of the reconstructed introductory (or resuming) formula, the formal structure, and some less formal criteria. due to the exceptional similarity between this text and certain parts of 1QS, many see the initiation ceremony described in 1QS V as itsSitz im Leben. This social setting also serves as an argument for interpreting it as a hymn of the community.¹ Others, however, disagree with this prevailing assessment. In her 2004 monograph, Carol Newsom, who does not ascribe the so-called Leader Hymns to any specific leader but rather...

  7. 4 Two Compositions Spoken by a Maśkîl: 1QHa XX 7–XXII 39 and 1QS IX 12–XI 22
    (pp. 125-184)

    It is commonplace to point to the similarity of 1QHaXX 7–XXII 39 to the last three columns of 1QS (IX 12– XI 22), but the similarities are rarely used to throw light on 1QHaXX 7–XXII 39 and the group of so-called Community Hymns in general. The similarities between the two hymnic compositions under consideration are considerable with respect to both form and content. Most of the hymn in 1QS speaks of God in the third person, but in XI 15 there is a change: “Blessed be you, my god, who opens the heart of your servant to...

  8. 5 Merging of Traditions in a Classical Hybrid: 1QHa XII 6–XIII 6
    (pp. 185-216)

    As long as teacher or leader hymns have been recognized among the Hodayot, there has been no doubt about the place of 1QHa XII 6– XIII 6 within the category. The composition has phrasings close to some of the passages on the teacher of Righteousness in the Habakkuk commentary, so it could easily be imagined that the speaker of this composition was the Teacher himself. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that the composition is a composite. Tanzer has suggested that “the material adapted from the Hymns of the Community … extends from 4:29 [XII 30] to the end of the...

  9. 6 Two Voices in Unison: The Self-Glorification Hymn and the Hymn of the Righteous
    (pp. 217-244)

    In this chapter I will discuss the so-called Self-Glorification Hymn and the Hymn of the Righteous. These two hymns appear together in 1QHodayotaand in other documents and therefore seem to have been treated as a unit. Accordingly, they will be treated here as one text. in quite its own way, this text invites a collective of worshipers to assume an elevated status, indeed to identify as someone with an active part to play in the agency of God.

    The heterogeneous nature of 1QHodayotais underscored by the presence of this text in the collection. Because of its exceptional character,...

  10. 7 Recapitulation and Recontextualization: Social and Mental Contexts for the Hodayot
    (pp. 245-268)

    Up to this point I have sought to disconnect some of the 1QHacompositions from their commonly presumed social contexts. Elements from Systemic Functional Linguistics, especially transitivity analysis, have aided me in this process. in this chapter, i shall attempt to recontextualize the Hodayot compositions analyzed in the preceding chapters and suggest how 1QHodayot a may have initially functioned in its social context.

    The heterogeneous character of the collection must be explained. The prevailing idea that some compositions basically expressed leadership issues whereas others expressed the sentiments of ordinary community members has not been very helpful. on the contrary, this...

  11. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 269-274)

    This book is basically a study of how we can, or cannot, access the contexts of ancient texts—in this case 1QHodayota. Textual interpretation is in part a question of understanding the meaning of a text in light of its sociohistorical circumstances. More specifically, I have attempted to reach a meaningful explanation for the heterogeneous character of 1QHodayota. So far, explanations have been based on the notion that differences between the so-called Leader Hymns and the so-called Community Hymns mirror a social dichotomy, and that the one group of hymns was spoken by the community leadership, whereas the other was...

  12. Ancient Sources Index
    (pp. 295-306)
  13. Modern Authors Index
    (pp. 307-309)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 310-314)