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Physiognomic Consciousness In The Dead Sea Scrolls And Second Temple Period Literature

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Chapter Summary

More or less simultaneously with the highlighted “physiognomic consciousness” expressed by Ben Sira, there seems to be an emergence of a marked interest in the physical description of people’s bodies in Second Temple period Judaism, at least as far as the sources are concerned. The concrete descriptions of the human body in literary texts from the Hellenistic- Early Roman period find, to a certain degree, a remarkable parallel in Greco-Egyptian and Jewish documentary papyri. The texts briefly discussed in this chapter shows that physiognomic interest, as conveyed in technical form by the two learned lists from the Dead Sea scrolls, 4QZodiacal Physiognomy (4Q186) and 4QPhysiognomy ar (4Q561), was not an isolated phenomenon in Second Temple period Judaism. The distinguishing character of marks and moles appears also in 4QBirth of Noaha (4Q534), and the color and type of hair as distinguishing features receive attention in 1 Enoch. 106.

Keywords: 4QBirth of Noaha (4Q534); 4QPhysiognomy ar (4Q561); 4QZodiacal Physiognomy (4Q186); Ben Sira; Dead Sea crolls; Enoch; Greco-Egyptian papyri; Sea Scrolls; Second Temple Judaism; Temple Period



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