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Sefer Zerubbabel and Popular Religion

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author suggests the source for popular Judaism, a literary source: the early seventh-century Hebrew apocalyptic work Sefer Zerubbabel. Sefer Zerubbabel's occasional use of proof texts introduced by rabbinic formulas for citation offers a clear indication of its acquaintance with rabbinic literature, and most scholars have understood it to draw on rabbinic literature for elements of its content as well. She argues that on closer examination many of the parallels between Sefer Zerubbabel and rabbinic texts turn out to reflect not Sefer Zerubbabel's dependence on the rabbinic corpus or rabbinic traditions but rather independent use of popular traditions on which the rabbis also drew. The chapter focuses on the two messiahs, but there are other elements of Sefer Zerubbabel, such as the figure of Hephzibah, the mother of the Davidic messiah, and the attitude toward the restoration of sacrifice and the eschatological temple, that would merit consideration.

Keywords:eschatological temple; Hebrew apocalyptic work; Judaism; messiahs; rabbinic literature; Sefer Zerubbabel

10.1163/9789004224087_035
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