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Re: Berossus and Genesis and Ezra/Nehemiah

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  • Yitzhak Sapir
    ... I meant here, Makkoth 3:5. Best regards, Yitzhak Sapir
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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      On 1/1/07, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

      > Mishnah as well -- Makkoth 3:1 clearly prohibits such actions as
      > are described in Ezra 9:3.

      I meant here, Makkoth 3:5.

      Best regards,
      Yitzhak Sapir
    • RUSSELLGMIRKIN@aol.com
      Dear Yitzhak Sapir, Thank you for your thoughtful and well-reasoned posting. With regard to my correlation of Pentateuchal priestly tradition with the circles
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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        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.

        Best regards,
        Russell Gmirkin



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