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The Council of Elders during the Pre-Hasmonean Period

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The subject of this paper is the Jewish Council of Elders or γερoυσια in the Hellenistic period. The author starts from contrasting opinions of contemporary scholars and focuses on the pre-Hasmonean period from 301 BCE to 152 BCE, concentrating on the Books of the Maccabees and Flavius Josephus' Jewish Antiquities Ch. 12, with further reference to the Letter of Aristeas and other epigraphic evidence. What exactly did the words πρεσβυτερoı and γερoυσια mean? What was the role of the Council of Elders? Did it even exist? What was its relationship to the High Priest? The linguistic usage of πρεσβυτερoı and γερoυσια in the sources could lead us to a better understanding of the dynamics of Jewish society in the Ptolemaic and early Seleucid periods.

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