Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel

Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel

Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel

Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel

Synopsis

In a bold challenge to the long-held scholarly notion that Rabbinic Judaism was already an established presence during the Second Temple period, Gabriele Boccaccini here argues that Rabbinic Judaism was actually a daring reform movement that developed following the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and that only took shape in the first centuries of the common era.

Through careful analysis of Second Temple sources, Boccaccini explores the earliest roots of the Rabbinic system of thought in the period from the Babylonian exile to the Maccabean revolt, or from Ezekiel to Daniel. He argues convincingly that a line of thought links Rabbinic Judaism back to Zadokite Judaism through the mediation of the Pharisaic movement.

Sure to be widely debated, Roots of Rabbinic Judaism will be of interest to anyone studying the origins and development of modern Judaism.

Excerpt

The idea that already during the Second Temple period Rabbinic Judaism was normative or mainstream Judaism belongs to the history of scholarly research. Specialists in Judaism of late antiquity now deem such an idea as anachronistic and rather agree that “the rabbinic literature is not the timeless and universal summary of Jewish belief that it was once taken to be.” Rabbinic Judaism was discontinuous with both Scripture, as it “represented a sustained and organized development and interpretation of the biblical traditions,” and the Second Temple period, as “the shift from Second Temple Judaism to rabbinic Judaism [was] not a mere chronological transition but a substantive change”

Far from being the trustees of the accepted tradition of Israel, the sages were the leaders of a bold reform movement that developed in the aftermath of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and took its shape in

1. See Joachim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus: An Investigation into Economic and Social Conditions during the New Testament Period (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969); George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: the Age of the Tannaim, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1927-1930); Joseph S. Bonsirven, Palestinian Judaism in the Time of Jesus Christ (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964).

2. Mark Adam Elliott, The Survivors of Israel: a Reconsideration of the Theology of Pre-Christian Judaism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000), 4.

3. Lawrence H. Schiffman, From Text Maccabees to the Mishnah, Library of Early Christianity 7 (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987),210.

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