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Social Identities And Group Phenomena In Second Temple Judaism

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Chapter Summary

One of the most dramatic changes in the 20th century studies of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity started with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. The Scrolls contained many beliefs that had formerly been regarded as alien to Judaism and characteristic of Hellenistic or gnostic thinking. This chapter proposes that the research on the diverse Second Temple Judaism could greatly benefit if we take into account social-psychological theories connected to group and intergroup processes. It draws upon the so-called "social identity perspective" that comprises social identity theory and closely related self-categorization theory. This perspective helps to explain some cognitive and motivational processes that may lie in the background of our extant sources. Finally, the chapter develops a valid theoretical framework which makes it possible to appreciate both the diversity reflected in various sources and the suppressed sense of similarity.

Keywords: Dead Sea Scrolls; early Christianity; Second Temple Judaism; social identity theory; social-psychological theories



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