Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis

Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis

Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis

Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis

Synopsis

Halakhah in the Making offers the first comprehensive study of the legal material found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and its significance in the greater history of Jewish religious law ( halakhah). Aharon Shemesh's pioneering study revives an issue long dormant in religious scholarship: namely, the relationship between rabbinic law, as written more than one hundred years after the destruction of the Second Temple, and Jewish practice during the Second Temple. The monumental discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran led to the revelation of this missing material and the closing of a two-hundred-year gap in knowledge, allowing work to begin comparing specific laws of the Qumran sect with rabbinic laws. With the publication of scroll 4QMMT-a polemical letter by Dead Sea sectarians concerning points of Jewish law-an effective comparison was finally possible. This is the first book-length treatment of the material to appear since the publication of 4QMMT and the first attempt to apply its discoveries to the work of nineteenth-century scholars. It is also the first work on this important topic written in plain language and accessible to nonspecialists in the history of Jewish law.

Excerpt

This book is based on the Taubman Lectures in Jewish Studies I delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, in February– March 2005. I wish to thank the faculty members of the department of Near East Studies and the Jewish Studies Program for inviting me to present my thoughts and for joining me to the distinguished list of prominent scholars in all fields of Jewish studies who previously participated in this wonderful lecture series. Special thanks to my teacher, colleague, and great friend Prof. Daniel Boyarin for challenging me with this project. The invitation to deliver these lectures, which he initiated, forced me to think of the big questions, beyond the local, particular, halakhic issues in the Dead Sea Scrolls which I have discussed in many of my earlier works. This book is an attempt to better understand the nature of the legal system of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to explore the sectarian, exegetical principles and their fundamental assumptions with regard to the origin and authority of halakhah, and above all to compare the scrolls’ viewpoint on these issues with that of . . .

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