Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Eileen Schuller
The Damascus Document, a foundational document amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, is rich with references to women. Most of the passages that allude to women are part of the legal section of the document. This study offers an in-depth analysis of all passages relating to women, both in terms of understanding the content of the often fragmentary text, as well as deducing the implications of that information for the role and status of women, and attitudes towards women, in the societies behind the text. My detailed analysis offers, in several instances, new interpretative suggestions to the text, for example, concerning female purity laws and regarding difficult expressions ("embroidery" [rwqmh] and "established for her"). The legal section can be divided into two main literary layers, a division I have adopted as a methodological framework. I examine the passages concerning women according to literary stratum. As a result of this method, it is possible to study texts relating to women chronologically and in their proper literary contexts. This method also allows for comparisons between the strata. My analysis reveals a mix of both positive and negative attitudes towards women reflected in the text. Amongst the earliest laws, there are laws that advocate humiliating treatments of women (laws about the Sotah and investigation concerning virginity). Yet, there is also a tendency to reinterpret biblical laws in a way that works in favour of women's interests (laws about oath and the Sotah). In the communal laws, the latest layer amongst the laws, the evidence suggests that women were full members in the community behind the Damascus Document and that they held strong positions within the family units. At the same time, some aspects of women's power have been undermined by the increasingly authoritarian sectarian leadership.
WASSEN, CECILIA, "WOMEN IN THE DAMASCUS DOCUMENT" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1639.