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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Torah of Moses was recognized as the ancestral law of Judah from the time of Ezra. Its status was revoked briefly by Antiochus Epiphanes. In the Hasmonean era there was a turn to intensive halakhic discussion, attested in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was a factor in the rise of sectarianism. The papyri from the early second century ce take a flexible attitude to laws, drawing on Jewish or Roman law as seemed advantageous. The literature from the Hellenistic Diaspora treats the law broadly as a summary of Jewish tradition. Despite some claims that the law functioned as a civic law in the Diaspora, there are only a few instances in the papyri where Jews base appeals on Jewish law, and we do not know what the judges decided in those cases.

Keywords: Torah, ancestral law, halakah, halakhic turn, papyri, marriage contracts, Dead Sea Scrolls, sectarianism, diaspora, politicos nomos

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