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"BUT TOUCH THE LAW AND THE SECT WILL SPLIT:" LEGAL DISPUTE AS THE CAUSE OF SECTARIAN SCHISM

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My intention in this paper is to take issue with a view widely held among scholars in the field, an opinion I shared in the past but that I have also questioned and ultimately come to reject.

To set the stage for accomplishing this goal let me begin with a definition of a historian offered by my late teacher, Professor Elias Bickerman. He called a historian a "digger in texts." The comparison to an archeologist, who digs in the ground, is enlightening. Every layer of a site contributes something to the complete history of its occupation, and that total picture can only be drawn on the basis of information from every layer, in which each layer teaches us something about any and all of the other layers. Nevertheless, an archeologist digging at a particular site is usually most interested in the remains from one particular stratum. For that archeologist, these remains are of the greatest importance.

10.1163/15700700260430979
/content/journals/10.1163/15700700260430979
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/content/journals/10.1163/15700700260430979
2002-12-01
2016-12-04

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