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Moses in Non-Rabbinic Jewish Sources

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Chapter Summary

The non-rabbinic sources are witnesses to the diversity of Judaism in the first century even in Judaea, as the Qumran texts show so vividly which would scarcely be guessed from reading the Talmuds and the rabbinic midrashim, at least as they are customarily interpreted. The fundamental theme of Philo's Life of Moses" is that Moses was the "most excellent king", the "most perfect ruler". This fact is not at once apparent, for Philo's prooemium introduces Moses as "according to some, the legislator of the Jews, according to others the interpreter of the sacred laws". Moses' essential importance for Philo is as the prototypal mystic and the guide for those of his "disciples" who like Philo himself, long to participate in the true "Exodus", an escape from the "Egypt" of the senses and passions. The most common title by which Josephus, like most Hellenistic Jewish authors, refers to Moses is "legislator".

Keywords: Jews; Josephus; Judaism; Moses; non-rabbinic sources; Philo; Qumran texts; sacred laws; Talmuds



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