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Re: orion Baumgarten's book on Jewish Sects

Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 22:05:19 +0200 (WET)
From: Albert Baumgarten <baumgaa@mail.biu.ac.il>

The challenge of saying something about my book (either favorable
or unfavorable) seems to be silencing this normally voluble list.
In order to help begin the discussion, I append below a
description of its contents.
Al Baumgarten
This volume asks why Jewish groups - Sadducees, Pharisees,
Essenes and the Dead Sea Scroll sect - flourished, from the
Maccabean era until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.
The book argues that such a result is uncommon, requiring special
In the introduction, sectarianism is defined and its varieties
in Second Temple Judaism assessed. Among the causes of the known
results suggested in subsequent chapters are the encounter with
an outside culture that seemed to be weakening the external
national perimeter, the impact of expanded literacy, the move to
the city from the farm, as well as eschatological hope aroused
by Maccabean victory. In proposing these conclusions, full
advantage is taken of recently published Qumran sources, such as
4QMMT. The objective is to discover the connection between
context and consequence, which will explain why sectarianism was
so prominent at that time.