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Torah Of Moses: Pseudonymous Attribution In Second Temple Writings

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Chapter Summary

Nehemiah 8 depicts Ezra's public reading of Mosaic Torah, and the simultaneous public explanation of Mosaic Torah by the mebinim, the authorized interpreters. Authority was inextricably linked to Moses and ancient tradition of Mosaic Torah in Second Temple period. Ezra's legal innovations were pseudonymously attributed to Torah of Moses. This chapter considers two examples of pseudonymous attribution to Moses in the writings of Ezra-Nehemiah. These examples illustrate how it was possible to inscribe innovations into a culture that recognized only old and established law as main source of authority that had survived the exile. But it is notable that the important association between authority and writing was already in place long before the return. Only in light of the gradual emergence of authoritative sacred writing it can be understood how Mosaic Torah could have come to replace the prophet and claim authority once accorded to the priest and the king.

Keywords: Ezra-Nehemiah; pseudonymous attribution; sacred writings; Second Temple period; Torah of Moses



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