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Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism,9780190842383

Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 10/25/2017
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
Availability: This title is currently not available.


Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism proposes a new approach to the understanding of many Jewish groups and sects from the last centuries BCE and the first centuries CE. Michael Stone argues that the known ancient Jewish groups--the Qumran covenanters, Josephus's and Philo's Essenes, and Philo's Therapeutae--can be viewed as societies at the heart of whose existence were esoteric knowledge and practice. Guarding and transmitting this esoteric knowledge and practice, Stone argues, provided the dynamic that motivated the social and conceptual structure of these groups. Analyzing these groups as secret societies enables us to see previously latent social structural dimensions, and provides many new enriching insights into the groups, including the Dead Sea covenanters. Drawing on sociological analyses of secret societies, Stone also compares these Jewish groups with mystery religions of the contemporary Greek and Roman world, and of early Christianity. His approach casts a powerful new light on ancient Jewish religious groups and highlights unstudied aspects of the world of Christian origins.

Author Biography

Michael Stone is Professor Emeritus of Armenian Studies and Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also the author of Adamgirk: The Adam Book of Arak el of Siwnik.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Secret Societies in Ancient Judaism
Chapter 2. "Esoteric," Mysteries, and Secrecy
2.1 Esoteric
2.2 Secrecy
2.3 Religious Experience and the Claim of Authority
Chapter 3. Esoteric as a Social Category
3.1 Knowledge and Control of Knowledge
3.2. Oral or Written
Chapter 4. The Social Organization of Secrecy
4.1 Mysteries and Secrecy in Hellenistic-Roman Society
4.2 Secret Societies and Ancient Judaism
4.3 Essenes and Therapeutae in Secret Groups
Chapter 5. Initiation and Graded Revelation
5.1 Initiation
5.2 Hierarchical Structure
Chapter 6. Other Secret Jewish Groups and Traditions
6.1 Indications of Other Secret Groups
6.2. Status and the Pseudo-Esoteric
Chapter 7. The Social Setting of Esoteric Tradition
7.1 Socio-Religious Groups
7.2 Teachings known to have existed that may have been secret
7.3 Narrative Frameworks and Secret Transmission
"Circles Behind" and Final Thoughts

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