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Legal Realism And The Fashioning Of Sectarians In Jewish Antiquity

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Chapter Summary

The Second Temple period evince a legal realism according to which law conforms to and may be confirmed by divinely revealed or empirically tested knowledge of "the way things really are". Rabbinic sources retain a memory of this legal realism in depictions of sectarians as either ridiculing or refusing to accept laws that diverge from "the way things really are. In the rabbinic imaginaire, the sectarian's/heretic's repudiation of individual laws as absurd becomes a repudiation of the law in general, the authority of those who expound the law and ultimately the Scriptures from which they derived their authority. In the context of Jewish antiquity, epistemological certainty generally derives from one of two primary sources - ordinary modes of human cognition or divine revelation of cosmic realities.

Keywords: Jewish antiquity; legal realism; Rabbinic sources; sectarians; Second Temple period



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