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Early Jewish Exegetes And Community Identity

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Chapter Summary

The centrality of sacred text to community life contributed to the emergence of interpreters who specialized in the study and interpretation of the scriptures. This chapter examines the way that scriptural interpretation functioned as a mode of revelation in the Second Temple period and explores how different Jewish groups defined themselves with reference to this activity. The author survey selects early Jewish texts that exemplify this approach to reading the Jewish scriptures. After providing a brief overview of recent secondary literature, the chapter discusses the primary texts that show evidence of the shift from classical prophecy to "charismatic" or "revelatory" exegesis during the Second Temple period. Subsequently, it provides a more extended discussion of early Jewish texts that demonstrate how descriptions of an inspired knowledge of the Jewish scriptures could serve as a means of articulating the identity and boundaries of certain early Jewish communities.

Keywords: community identity; Jewish texts; scriptural interpretation; second temple period



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