Article

Medieval Karaism

Meira Polliack

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199280322.013.0012

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Medieval Karaism

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Karaism is best defined as a Jewish religious movement of a scripturalist and messianic nature, which crystallized in the second half of the ninth century in the areas of Persia-Iraq and Palestine. This article highlights new developments and breakthroughs in research, with specific emphasis on the state of manuscript sources, and the fields of Karaite history and hermeneutics. It also attempts to redefine the major impetus behind the Karaite movement. It concludes by reviewing the issues that have been raised and outlines the major paradigmatic shift in the current understanding of Karaism. Two separate modes of explanation have traditionally been pursued in the light of comparative religious phenomena. One identifies the major motivation underlying Karaism as intrinsic to Judaism, drawn from earlier scripturalist models, and the other identifies it as external to Judaism, borrowed or grafted onto it from heterodox Islamic models.

Keywords: Karaism; Karaite history; Karaite hermeneutics; Jewish religious movement; Judaism

Article.  15578 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies ; History of Religion

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