In this article, I explore how the Hodayot—an anthology of thanksgiving hymns—were experienced through oral performance and used for identity formation in the sectarian communities associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. In particular, I describe the impact of the Hodayot’s oral performance for both community members and a community leader, the Maskil. I begin with a survey of internal evidence that establishes public praise as a plausible sociolinguistic setting for the Hodayot. On the basis of performance criticism, I focus on the impact of the Hodayot as spoken words (speech) that appear in oral performance (reading). The Hodayot embodied the sectarian movement’s cultural memory, and the manner in which the Hodayot represent the “self” enables speakers to imagine, or “re-member,” themselves through oral performance. On the one hand, the membership’s oral performance of the Hodayot functioned to produce collective identity, transform personal identity, and socialize members through narration of shared stories. On the other hand, the leadership utilized oral performance to self-identify with the pedagogical leadership, special knowledge, and institutional authority of the Maskil. Through oral performance, ordinary members could reimagine their identity as model sectarians, and a qualified leader could appropriate the Maskil’s office.

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