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Cult As A Catalyst For Division

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the motive/s that triggered the division of Israelite society into groups or sects in the late Second Temple period. There are no written records of the dissident groups and their ideologies with the exception of the Qumran/Essenes group, and the records of rabbinic attitudes towards the dissidents and their halakhic rules are stated to involve either Sadducees or Boethusians. The chapter focuses specifically on the authenticity of these records with respect to their identification of these groups, and the faithfulness with which the rabbinic debates with them were set out. The examination of the relevant rabbinic literature is also essential to solve the question of why the disputes of the Pharisees with the dissident groups provoked division and in some cases separation in Israelite society, whereas the renowned disputes between the “Houses of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai” did not have the same effect.

Keywords: Bet Hillel; Bet Shammai; dissident groups; Israelite society; Pharisees; rabbinic literature; Second Temple period



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