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The Hasideans And The Ancient Jewish ‘Sects’: A Seventeenth-Century Controversy

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Chapter Summary

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, three great scholars entered into an exegetical controversy half philological, half theological. This chapter begins by analysing the terms 'sect' and 'heresy' as they are defined and used on all sides. Then the chapter considers the issues involved. How did the question of the Hasidaeans come to trigger the controversy? What were the arguments advanced? 'Sect' and 'heresy' occur throughout the debate, it analyses more particularly in the chapter. For Drusius and Scaliger the Hasidaeans do not constitute a 'sect' but rather an 'order' or a 'brotherhood'. For Serarius, the testimony of Philo of Alexandria as interpreted by the Fathers, beginning with Eusebius and Epiphanius, establishes indisputably that the descendants of the Asidaeans-Essenes, particularly of those whom Philo describes as leading a contemplative life, were the early Christian monks.

Keywords: Hasidaeans; seventeenth century controversy



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