Beyond Definitions of Prayer Applying Genre Theory to some Persisting Problems in the Categorization of Liturgical Texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls
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This essay highlights two long-standing and persisting methodological problems attending scholarly discussion of liturgical texts found at Qumran, presenting a range of insights drawn from genre theory as means by which these problems can be overcome. A close examination of a definition of prayer which has been operative in this sub-field of Qumran scholarship for over a quarter of a century reveals the inadequacy of current methods, in particular an over-reliance on static definitions and adherence to overly rigid categorisations on the basis of formal characteristics. A survey of engagement with modern genre theory at once highlights the shortcomings of these approaches and suggests constructive avenues for future research. An emphasis on the analysis of intertextual relationships through comparison of material, textual and literary features is advocated, and this approach is illustrated through a study of 4Q381 15 and Psalms 86 and 89, as attested in 1Q10, 4Q87 and 4Q98g
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