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24 sects of minim

According to yerushalmi Sanhedrin 29c, Rabbi Yohanan said that Israel did
not go into exile until there were "twenty-four sects [kitot] of minim."
(Though the context is a discussion of Ezekiel, this is sometimes taken
to refer to the second temple.) M. Goodman (in JJS 46 (1995) 161-66)
cited this, implying a multiplicity of Jewish sects before 70 CE,
alternatives to Essenes as owners of the 800+ Qumran mss. But Reuven
Kimelman has persuasively shown that R. Yohanan used "minim" to refer to
Jewish-Christians, with whom he disputed. (He lived in Sepphoris, then
Tiberias.) (See 1977 Yale dissertation, "Rabbi Yohanan of Tiberias: Aspects
of the Social and Religious History of Third Century Palestine")
A Talmud commentary interprets the number 24 here as symbolizing the 12
tribes divided. This view is strengthened when one considers that the
Revelation of John privileges the number 24, in presenting 24 elders
around the heavenly throne, and in surrounding the new Jerusalem temple
with 12 gates symbolizing the 12 tribes as well as 12 foundations
symbolizing the 12 apostles. For the Jewish-Christian book Rev of John,
24 represented Israel augmented; for R. Yohanan, 24 represented Israel
divided. Contra Goodman, the number does not represent an accounting of
sects available for Qumran manuscript ownership.
Stephen Goranson    UNC-Wilmington