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Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel

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

by Gabriele Boccaccini


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802843616
Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date: 04/14/2011
Edition description: 43137 William B Eerdmans
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Gabriele Boccaccini is professor of Second Temple Judaismand Christian origins at the University of Michigan anddirector of the Enoch Seminar, a biennial internationalconference on the Enoch literature.

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Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a difficult book to summarize. A caricature would be to say that it divides up the books of the Bible and some outside books between the Zadokite school, Anti-Zadokite Enochans, and the Wisdom school. And then sees Daniel as a 3rd way between the Zadokites and the Enochans out of which eventually the Rabbinic Judaism emerged.
maimonedes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is a little like entering a parallel universe, where events you thought you knew about didn¿t quite happen in the familiar way, and people you thought you knew about did unexpected things. The author makes whole historical cloth out of a lot of literary strands; some of it is possible, much of it seems improbable. But in the end, the biggest criticism is that he does not deliver on his principal thesis that there was no Rabbinic Judaism or proto-Rabbinic movement prior to the destruction of the second temple. If, by this, the author meant to say that the practice of modern Judaism differs from that of second temple times, it would hardly be controversial; Judaism as we know it was essentially salvaged out of the ruins of the second temple¿s destruction by Yochanan Ben Zakai and his successors. Boccaccini means more than this however; rather than a movement which tried to maintain ¿ within the limits imposed by the absence of temple and sacrifices - continuity with earlier traditions, he sees Rabbinic Judaism as a totally new synthesis which borrowed from at least three different streams of Judaism which had emerged during the second temple period - Zadokite (covenantal) Judaism, Enochic (apocalyptic) Judaism, and Sapiential (wisdom-based) Judaism.Zadokite Judaism gets its name from the so-called Zadokite priesthood, supposedly descendants of Zadok the chief priest in the time of King David. This priestly group, according to Boccaccini, took over the newly rebuilt temple after the return from the Babylonian exile, and ruled Judea for 350 years ¿ until shortly before the Maccabean revolt. The fascinating story he tells of the Zadokite takeover is based on a very close reading of the books of Ezekiel ¿ the prophet of the Babylonian exile ¿ Hagai and Malachi ¿ the last of the Biblical prophets ¿ and the book of Ezra, the most influential leader of the returning exiles. According to the author, the Zadokites effectively created a three-level hierarchy; the high priesthood was the hereditary office of the Zadokite family ¿ descendants of Aaron¿s grandson Phineas, who in the Book of Numbers is rewarded for his zeal with an ¿everlasting priesthood¿. They presided over other Aaronite priests not descended from Phineas, who were in turn supported by the Levites who cleaned up the temple and provided the musical accompaniment to its rites. To accept the full ingenuity of Boccaccini¿s version of the Zadokite coup, you do of course have to buy into the theory of the Documentary Hypothesis, of a separate priestly authorship of parts of the Pentateuch. According to the author, in order to justify their primacy, the Zadokites rewrote the Pentateuch, adding what we now know as the Book of Leviticus and parts of the Book of Numbers; however, most modern proponents of this hypothesis now accept that the author of ¿P¿, as it is called, was certainly pre-exilic. So, even if ¿P¿ were a separate document written by priests, it came too early to be the work of the post-exilic Zadokite priests. This cloak and dagger elaboration is in any case hardly necessary, as no one argues with the fact that the Zadokite/Oniad line occupied the high priesthood until shortly before the Maccabean revolt. The rump of the Zadokite priesthood can be identified with the Sadducees (¿Tsadukim¿, meaning Zadokites, in Hebrew) ¿ one of the late second temple period sects described by Josephus. So what was Zadokite Judaism ? It was ¿ very much what we might call Biblical Judaism ¿ the covenant of God with Israel promised them that, if they kept faith with his laws, they would enjoy all the blessings of a people chosen to be witness of the love and justice of the One God; failure to do so would be punished severely, including the subjection of the Israelite nation to other peoples. The Zadokites believed firmly that each Israelite¿s and the collective national fate was in their own hands. There was no need to expect an afterlife of the soul, as reward or p