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The Exaltation of Seth and Nazirite Asceticism in the Cave of Treasures

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This article argues that the Cave of Treasures mixes Jewish themes concerning the exaltation of Seth with ascetical themes found in Syrian Christian writings about Nazirite purity. The Cave of Treasure’s emphasis on Seth’s priestly duty and sexual purity echoes Syriac Christian authors, like Ephrem and Aphrahat, who also describe Seth in terms of Nazirite purity. Since the East-Syriac recension of the text contains explicit Nazirite influences that are absent from the original pre-fourth-century West-Syriac recension, an East-Syrian scholar probably revised the composition sometime between the fifth- through seventh-centuries. The later redactor took the text’s original emphasis on purity and interpreted this purity according to the East Syriac model of Nazirite asceticism that was common among other seventh-century East-Syriac authors, like Dadisho and Isaac of Nineveh.

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