Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Song Thirteen: Ambiguity, Mysticism, and Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Annette Evans University of the Free State
Keywords: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Song Thirteen, mysticism, ambiguity, cognitive neuroscience, Fletcher-Louis


A striking characteristic of Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice is the lack of clarity as to when the participants are human and when angelic. Scholarly opinion has been divided on the question. Fletcher-Louis, for instance, argued for an “angelomorphic” theology in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice. Scholars regard this text as an example of mysticism at Qumran, but the root of the term “mystic” (to conceal) warns of the difficulties inherent in any analysis of mystical texts because such texts arise from religious experience of a transcendent divine presence only accessible subjectively. In a previous article on ambiguity in the First Song it was argued in support of Fletcher-Louis that the text was deliberately constructed to create ambiguity between angelic agents and sectarian participants for rhetorical purposes. This article resorts to insights from cognitive neuroscience in order to reconsider current scholarly opinion on this matter.