Fortress Press

Repentance at Qumran: The Penitential Framework of Religious Experience in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Repentance at Qumran

The Penitential Framework of Religious Experience in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Mark A. Jason (Author)


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Mark A. Jason offers a detailed investigation of the place of repentance in the Dead Sea Scrolls, addressing a significant lacuna in Qumran scholarship. Normally, when the belief system of the community is examined, “repentance” is usually taken for granted or relegated to a peripheral position. By careful attention to key texts, Jason establishes the importance of repentance as a fundamental way of structuring and describing religious experience within the Qumran community. Repentance was important not only for entry into the community and covenant but also for daily governance and cultic activities, and even for authenticating understanding of the end times. Jason shows, then, that repentance was a central and decisive element in shaping that community’s identity and undergirded its religious experience from the start. Further, comparison with relevant texts from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha shows that the Qumran community represented a distinctive penitential movement in Second Temple Judaism.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451485301
  • eBook ISBN 9781451494273
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 208
  • Emerging Scholars category Bible
  • Publication Date February 1, 2015


1. Religious Experience and Repentance
2. Motivations for Repentance
3. Repentance, Separation, and the Covenant
4. Repentance and Predestination
5. The Extent of Repentance: Who Then Can Repent?
6. Repentance in Daily Life: Rituals and Cult
7. Repentance and Eschatology: Penitential Eschatology


“This work fills a lacuna in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship, where a full-scale investigation of the concept and language of ‘repentance’ is still missing. Jason provides a thorough philological and conceptual study, but he is also attentive to the dynamics of religious experience in the Qumran texts. His study of early Jewish views of repentance is also of fundamental relevance for the understanding of the New Testament, especially the message of John the Baptist and of Jesus, where the Greek term metanoia is used to render a Jewish concept and idea, which is best illustrated by the movement of the Scrolls.”
—Jörg Frey
University of Zurich

"Mark Jason offers an interesting study of the neglected concept of repentance in the Dead Sea Scrolls. He builds his arguments from the bottom-up, using the evidence of the scrolls rather than imposing an anachronistic concept of penitence from above. His findings are significant as they show that repentance is not only central to the teachings of the sect but also to the identity of the destined members who turn away from all hindrances to their devotion to God, and turn to God, the community, and the law.”
Timothy H. Lim
The University of Edinburgh, School of Divinity 

“In this careful study of the crucial theme of repentance at Qumran, Mark Jason guides the reader expertly through a wide range of literature as he both surveys the full sweep of the Dead Sea Scrolls and also engages in minute exegesis of especially important texts. This vital study is of relevance not only to Qumran scholarship but to all study of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. I recommend it wholeheartedly!”
Simon Gathercole
University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam College