Josephus in Sasanian Babylonia

Richard Kalmin

in Jewish Babylonia between Persia and Roman Palestine

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195306194
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784998 | DOI:
 Josephus in Sasanian Babylonia

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This chapter compares rabbinic and Josephan traditions about the Sadducees. It shows that traditions in the Bavli tend to be hostile toward the Sadducees, while traditions in Palestinian compilations tend to reflect a more neutral perspective. The Palestinian traditions acknowledge, or even revel in, the existence of individual Sadducees who are wicked, but these individuals are always quickly punished with death by God for their evil deeds, and the Sadducees as a group are harmless, obedient, in fact, to the rulings of the Pharisees. It is also shown that since it is a fundamental tenet of rabbinic thought that the rabbis possessed traditions that were authoritative despite their independence from scripture, the introduction into Babylonia of traditions that portray the Sadducees as accepting only scripture and rejecting traditions external to the Bible motivated these hostile Babylonian portrayals. It is argued that the Bavli's portrayal of the Sadducees as a group that accepts only scripture derives either from (1) Josephus, or (2) traditions drawn upon independently by both Josephus and the rabbis.

Keywords: Sadducees; Bavli; rabbinic traditions; Palestinian compilation; Pharisees

Chapter.  11358 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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