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orion a little more on minim
The term "minim" evolved, as R. Kimelman showed, from use for
disapproved Jews to use for more various "heretics." Several other relevant
terms also evolved and/or had more than one meaning. For "Pharisees" see A.
Baumgarten's fine 1983 JBL article. Greek for "heresy" added a negative
sense at about the same time as "minim." Both had been neutral or even
positive in cases (e.g., Skeptics once wanted to be considered a "heresy.")
"Ebionites" went from generic to specific, from positive to negative.
Post-second-temple controversies led to a negativization of taxonomy. The
rabbis, for instance, were more negative toward "kinds" of Jews than
Pharisees, and were ambivalent toward the name Pharisee ("separatists"
being more bothersome than "specifiers"). Among orthodox Christians,
compare Epiphanius' 80 heresies in Panarion. "Nazarenes" and cognates only
eventually became a Jewish and a Christian heresy name. Attempts to find
varieties of Sadducees in second temple period often anachronistically
import distorting later texts, in which the term has become much broader.
Kimelman read a paper at 1993 SBL, "Birkat Ha-Minim: The Status of
the Question," basically defending his article, though, I think, he did not
then address Wm. Horbury. As far as I know, he hasn't published it (has
he?). Kimelman read a related essay which will appear in a Duke U.
conference volume (Eisenbrauns, 1999?), maybe titled Galilee Through the
Centuries: Confluence of Cultures. All well worth reading. But, as David
Halperin mentioned in a basically-favorable RSR review, it is difficult to
understand Nosrim being added to some versions of B.M. in some areas if it
meant a small sect. RK, as noted, deals well with the evolution of "minim,"
but less well with the evolution and differing perspectives of "nosrim."
Also, he, I suggest, overestimates the consistency of welcome of Christians
in ancient synagogues in different areas.
RK's 1977 Yale dissertation on Rabbi Yohanan of Tiberias (formerly
of Sepphoris) is excellent. This third-century rabbi is the attributed
source for several sayings about minim, which fits his time and geography.
His statement in ySanh 29c that Israel did not go into exile until there
were 24 "sects [kitot] of minim" was used in an article attempting to avoid
the obvious association of Qumran and Essenes. (Which Y. Hirschfeld's Ein
Gedi notes in the latest AJA also unfairly attempts to avoid.) I refer to
M. Goodman, JJS 46 (1995) 161-6, a learned article with rather lame and
poor arguments, in my opinion, though, on the other hand, Al Baumgarten
cites it approvingly (e.g. in an article on food habits which separates
Essenes and Qumran only to find that they surely sound similar). This
number 24 is not to be taken as straightforward description of second
temple history. For example, a talmud commentary (by David Darshan, if I
remember correctly) suggested the 24 represents the 12 tribes divided.
(Interestingly, 24 is negative here, but positive in the Jewish-Christian
book Revelation of John, with 24 heavenly elders.) 24 is not historical
accounting; it provides no other available group amassing 900+ manuscripts,
with no Pharisee texts included.
Understanding the development of "minim" can, I think, help explain
why the later rabbis were disinclined to accept the Essenes' self
designation as 'osey hatorah.
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