The Community Rule


This list is meant to provide a forum for the discussion and analysis of a corpus of literature that has received enormous attention from both scholars and laypeople over the last half century. To do this we are forming a community of scholars, students, and interested nonspecialists for our virtual seminar on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Communities, however, need some ground rules to remain healthy and productive, so I present here the Community Rule for (with a nod to the Qumran sectarians and to Ioudaios-L). Anyone posting to the list is expected to have read it and to abide by it.

(1) Basic courtesy should be observed at all times, even in the heat of argumentation. If you disagree with someone’s viewpoint, fine, but remember to separate the sin from the sinner. Refrain from name calling and commenting unfavorably on the intellectual abilities, morals, training, parentage, bathing habits, etc., of your fellow listmembers. Stick to the issues and to arguments that contribute to the debate. (This list is archived and the archive is publicly accessible. What you post here is likely to be around for a long time.)

(2) The headers of messages to the list should begin QUM (e.g. “QUM: Teacher of Righteousness”) and should be changed diligently with changes of topic. Postings to the list should always end with the poster’s name (pseudonyms are not acceptable) and e-mail address.

(3) The realtime course is an introductory undergraduate module given in English and no special knowledge is assumed of the relevant ancient languages (although a version of the realtime course with Hebrew readings is available to St. Andrews students). Postings to the list should be in English. Participants may post transliterated words and phrases from the ancient languages, but should translate them as well. For Hebrew and Greek, follow the transliteration conventions of the contributors’ guide for the online journal Ioudaios Review. Detailed linguistic discussions should be avoided. I will refer at times to the important scholarly literature in other modern languages, but in general I will not assume that members of the realtime seminar or listmembers control these languages.

(4) The primary focus of the list will be scholarly analysis and discussion of the assigned Dead Sea Scrolls and the questions that arise from the classroom materials distributed to the list and posted on the Web site. The discussion will no doubt move sometimes to related texts of the same period (such as the Bible or the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha), and to the historical background of the texts in Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, and the Greco-Roman world. But an effort should be made not to drift too far afield. Active participants should be familiar with the texts being discussed and have a general knowledge of the relevant scholarly literature. (I realize no one has had time to read everything! At least I haven’t…)

(5) All postings should be proofread and should observe ordinary conventions of spelling, capitalization, sentence construction, and paragraphing. If you copy part of a previous message, reproduce only the portion relevant for your comments. Avoid copying long, irrelevant stretches of previous discussion and do not repost a statement just to say you agree with it. Do not copy private messages to the list without the permission of the sender. Do not post copyrighted materials beyond fair use without permission of the copyright owners. Do not submit articles or send e-mail attachments to the list without prior authorization from the listowner ( Please send any virus warnings to the listowner rather than to the list.

(6) Some topics that are not appropriate for discussion include personal visionary and revelatory experiences, modern sectarian/religious and political agendas, personal messages, commercial advertisements, and fringe subjects such as ufology and modern occult readings of the texts. Announcements of new books, conferences, and related scholarly matters should be sent to the listowner (me). I will post them to the list if I think they are relevant.

(7) Nonspecialists are quite welcome, as are occasional basic questions about the material from those who don’t have training in the area. However, persistent questions that could be answered by checking the standard reference books are frowned upon. Keep in mind that the list is primarily designed for (1) undergraduates and postgraduates taking the course at St. Andrews and (2) specialists (including faculty, postgraduates, and independent scholars) whose training is in the area of biblical studies and Second Temple Judaism. This is an introductory course, but it assumes a basic knowledge of biblical studies and scholarly methods. Nonspecialists should realize that the discussion will get technical at times.

(8) Violators of these rules will be exhorted (usually privately) to mend their behaviour. Repeated or egregious violation will result in permanent expulsion of the offender from the list. In all cases the listowner’s interpretation of the rules will apply.

(9) Remaining subscribed to the list or posting to it after receipt of this Community Rule indicates acceptance of the conditions given herein.

Last updated 3rd August, 2000

Dr James R Davila (

Contact details

St Mary’s College 
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850 
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852