Angela Kim Harkins is Professor at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She was a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow at the University of Birmingham (England) in 2014–2015, and a Fulbright Scholar at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1997–1998. Harkins has authored or edited eight books and more than 40 journal articles and essays on prayers, emotions, and religious experience in ancient Jewish and Christian texts.
Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2023
A Reappraisal of the Teacher of Righteousness from the Dead Sea Scrolls
Early understandings of the Teacher of Righteousness were based on a limited range of texts that had been hastily published soon after the original discoveries. On the basis of this partial evidence, scholars created an early and popular portrait of the Teacher as a religious and political figure who established the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the face of fierce opposition. Early scholars insisted that the study of the Teacher could not be separated from the study of the enemies who opposed him, personalities who were referenced through ciphers like the Wicked Priest. Traditional scholarship on the Teacher of Righteousness has pursued a historical line of inquiry, with some scholars even identifying this enigmatic individual by name. Now that the entirety of the Scrolls corpus is published, it is overwhelmingly clear that an abundant number of them has not corroborated the centrality of this figure who looms so very large in both modern scholarship and the popular imagination. Today the historical identification of the Teacher has reached a scholarly impasse. Scholars no longer speak of a historical Teacher, but rather focus their attention on understanding what they can of the historical religious groups who retained and preserved these ideas about a Teacher figure. This paper will discuss this move away from the quest for a historical Teacher of Righteousness in light of larger changes in the field of Second Temple Studies.