Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Studies in the Bible and Antiquity


David J. Larsen


A number of texts from the Qumran scrolls demonstrate the community's interest in heavenly ascent and in communion with angels. This article lays out a pattern observable in some of the poetic/liturgical texts (for example, the Hodayot and other noncanonical psalms) in which the leader of the community is taken up into the divine council of God to be taught the heavenly mysteries, is appointed a teacher of those mysteries, and is then commissioned to share the teachings with his followers. Upon learning the mysteries, the followers are enabled to likewise ascend to heaven to praise God with the angels. In some texts, the human worshippers appear to undergo a transfiguration so that they become like the heavenly beings. This article further illustrates how these elements can be found together in a liturgical text known as the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; their collective presence suggests that all were part of a ritual sequence. Finally, the article argues that these same elements, or traditions related to them, can be found in passages from the Old Testament.