The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls brought to light the richest collection of early Jewish writings ever retrieved from the ancient world, including copies of biblical writings centuries older than other surviving manuscripts. Their gradual publication unleashed a flurry of research and considerable speculation. One such area of speculation concerns the understanding of sexuality in the ancient Jewish world.
William Loader here investigates every document of potential relevance for understanding ancient attitudes towards sexuality, aside from the biblical writings -- and there are many such documents. They include the Temple Scroll; 4QMMT; the Damascus Document; and a number of legal, liturgical, wisdom, and exegetical documents. These texts treat a wide range of matters pertaining to sexuality, from ritual and cultic concerns to visions of human community and family in future expectation. Far from the common view that the writers of the Scrolls held a low view of sexuality and marriage, Loader concludes that most of these sources reflect an affirmative stance towards sex and marriage within a framework of clear boundaries marking out where sex did and did not belong.
The Dead Sea Scrolls on Sexuality offers the first comprehensive treatment of this subject and comprises both detailed exegetical discussion of each work and a synthetic analysis of themes. The attention to detail displayed and the helpful summaries included make this book an indispensable resource for both scholars and students.