Re: Berossus and Genesis and Ezra/Nehemiah
- Dear Yitzhak Sapir,
Thank you for your thoughtful and well-reasoned posting.
With regard to my correlation of Pentateuchal priestly tradition with the
circles that later formed the core of the Sadducees, I think this is a
reasonable position in light of the probable historical continuity of these circles
together with Ant. 13.297-298, which contrasted Sadducee strict adherence to
the Torah's written legal code with Pharisee acceptance of oral legal
traditions. The latter appears to be corroborated by Aboth 1.4 which also appears to
show an endorsement of the idea of oral Mosaic legal traditions. I proposed
that the earliest Pharisee oral legal traditions of the 170s-160s BCE likely
substantially corresponded with Mosaic Oral Torah legal traditions not
recorded in the Pentateuch.
You had earlier raised the very interesting and important question of which
specific laws these might be. I suggested likely candidates would be
Pharisaic legal traditions which were extra-Pentateuchal and from the 160s or
earlier. A very real problem is identifying laws which fit those criteria. For
instance, while tractate Aboth documents the principle of Oral Torah, I recall
no instance where a rabbinical authority explicitly cites Mosaic oral legal
traditions. The earliest rabbinical authority cited is Yo'se b, Yo'ezer of
Seredah (if memory serves) from the 160s BCE, whose few recorded rulings are in
part aimed against Gentile participation in the temple cult, but is this an
older survival or a product of the Maccabean war? Berossus and Kings will
present a more fully developed argument that Ezra 9-10 and Neh. 13 date to c.
175 BCE and contain pointed polemics against the Tobiad funds in the temple
treasury and the intermarriage of the Oniads and Tobiads known from 2 Maccabees
and Josephus, and that the overthrow of the Oniad dynasty likely related to
the break between Sadducees and Pharisees. But does the xenophobia of this
latest strata of Ezra/Nehemiah reflect an older legal tradition or is it a
product of the earliest stages of the Hellenistic Crisis? The Dead Sea Scrolls
provide the oldest written materials on Pharisee legal traditions (in the
form of anti-Pharisee polemics that Talmudic tradition helpfully identifies as
points of contention with the Sadducees), but these do not predate the 170s
BCE (except arguably for older portions of 11QT). I did not find
Finkelstein's 1943 HTR article on "Pre-Maccabean Documents in the Passover Haggadah"
particularly convincing, and Neusner sensibly does not attempt to extrapolate
Pharisee tenets to period before the first "pairs" that I am aware (although
there are probably few people in the world who can claim their reading of
Neusner is exhaustive!). I'm thus not sure we can conclusively demonstrate that a
given Pharisee legal tradition predates the 170s in any specific instance.
This likely speaks more to the limitation of our sources than anything.
With respect to Ezra 9:1 and Neh. 13:1-3 citing Pentateuchal laws against
the Ammonite and Moabite and the like to support the dissolution of marriages
with non-Jews, this sort of reasoning is commonplace in rabbinic writings and
does not constitute an argument against the regulation against foreign
marriages being extra-Pentateuchal and possibly Pharisaic IMO. I would also point
to the intermarriage of Tobiads and Oniads as an instance where Sadducee high
priests marriage practices did not conform to the regulations advocated in
Ezra/Nehemiah (or to Lev. 21:15 under the possible interpretation you
suggest). But it is interesting to note that the priestly Sadducee authors of 4QMMT
claim not to have intermingled their seed with non-priests and have
regulations against Gentile involvement in the temple cult, suggesting that Sadducees
arrived at a similar legal understanding by the time 4QMMT was written.
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