Halakhah in the Mak­ing: The Devel­op­ment of Jew­ish Law from Qum­ran to the Rabbis

Aharon Shemesh
  • Review
By – August 26, 2011
A huge amount has been writ­ten about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many of them are so frag­men­tary and obscure that much of their mean­ing is in the eyes of the behold­er. Chris­t­ian schol­ars read them as pre-Chris­t­ian, Bible schol­ars read them as post-bib­li­cal, and the rel­a­tive­ly few Tal­mu­dic experts who study them see them in light of clas­si­cal rab­binic texts.
In this short vol­ume, based on a series of lec­tures he deliv­ered in Berke­ley, Aharon Shemesh gives his per­spec­tive on Qum­ran. He focus­es on the laws of the Qum­ran com­mu­ni­ty, try­ing to dis­cern the prin­ci­ples of their legal and rit­u­al sys­tem. Shemesh uncov­ers the midrashic strate­gies and under­ly­ing the­ol­o­gy hid­den in the legal minu­ti­ae, com­par­ing the Qum­ran­ites to the Rab­bis of the Mish­nah. Sim­pli­fy­ing mat­ters by pre­sent­ing his own clear-cut opin­ions on vexed issues in schol­ar­ship, Shemesh gives the read­er unfa­mil­iar with the Scrolls a good intro­duc­tion to the Qum­ran com­mu­ni­ty and a fas­ci­nat­ing look at some of its laws. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index, notes.

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