21-06-'07 | J.H.W. Dorman
Being disabled in Jesus’ time
Between 1947 and 1956, a number of manuscripts were discovered near the town of Qumran on the Dead Sea dating from the first two centuries BC and the first century AD, which provide insight into the society and culture of Palestine in those days. PhD student Anke Dorman studied where and how these Dead Sea Scrolls discuss physical impairments and what the consequences of disability were with regard to social and religious participation.
Although the manuscripts agree on the concept of exclusion of this group, several differences can be identified between the situations in which disabled people were excluded. In addition, there were different rules for different groups, for example rules that only applied to disabled priests and not to laypeople, and vice versa. A blind priest, for example, was not allowed to perform sacrifices to prevent him from doing something wrong.
In addition, disabled members of the Qumran community had a lower status than the non-disabled. This, incidentally, had nothing to do with ritual impurity, but rather with a lesser level of holiness, which made people less suitable for certain activities.
However, the Dead Sea Scrolls also reveal a positive approach to people with impairments: there were special social and financial measures to help them.
Anke Dorman (Almelo, 1976) studied theology at the University of Groningen and conducted her PhD research at the Qumran Institute of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. Dorman works one day a week as a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University. /GG
Date and time
21 June 2007, 1.15 p.m.
The blemished body: Deformity and disability in the Qumran scrolls
Prof. F. García Martínez
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