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Shiur Koma Traditions In Jewish And Hellenistic Sources

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Chapter Summary

Akiva's Sinai-theory looks rather like an alternative defensive strategy, which aimed to sever the connection between the Beloved of the Song of Songs and the angelic Youth. The Hebrew midrashim on the Song of Songs adopt a similar attitude with regard to the Messiah, who is identified with the Beloved in several passages of Aggadat Shir Ha-Shirim. Michael Fishbane, in a short but highly important article, has found clear evidence of shiur koma themes and ideas in Tannaitic midrash. The cosmogonic system of the Valentinian Gnostic Markos, which strongly resembles that found in Sefer Yetsira and later Kabbalistic writings, provides conclusive evidence that a developed shiur koma tradition existed in the second century CE. The influence of the shiur koma can be detected in traditions about a pre-rabbinic and pre-Christian Jewish sect known as the Magharians ('cave people'), preserved in Muslim and Qaraite sources.

Keywords: Akiva's Sinai-theory; Jewish sources; shiur koma tradition; Valentinian Gnostic Markos



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