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Analysis of an Historian's Arguement - Essay Example

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Jewish monotheism, an idea revolutionary at the time of its inception, has seen numerous breakages and divergences away from accepted ways of thinking. Qaraism, from the Hebrew “to read”, is a sect in…
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Analysis of an Historians Arguement
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Download file to see previous pages The Rabbinites based a legal and religious system on the Talmud, which is a practice that continues to the modern day. It is the socio-cultural and political relationship between these two sects that Marina Rustow surveys in her in her historical work Heresy and the Politics of Community1. Her scholarship about marriage in particular shows that arranged-type marriages demonstrate a series of strategic maneuvers to accomplish the goals of families, regardless of religious affiliations. In many ways, and through many primary sources, Rustow shows the Jewish marriage practice at the time to be very much a business-like decision, with rights, legal proxies, and contracts2. Rustow’s extensive details of the marriages between members of the two communities demonstrates broad yet through historical scholarship, and will leave a lasting impact on how the historians view the relationship between the Rabbinites and Qaraites.
Rustow’s conclusions give us reason to change our perception of the Rabbinites and Qaraites as socially competing or mutually exclusive. Marriage, a cohesive factor bringing people legally and spiritually together, seemed to soften the boundaries between “Rabbanite” and “Qaraite” such that the two categories were neither absolute nor mutually exclusive. She gives the example of Yosef who became a Rabbanite, to, as she says, “in order to facilitate his transition to the Jewish community in Fustat”3. This anecdote suggests that the lines between Qaraite, which is the community Yosef had grown up a part of, and Rabbanite, the community that he ultimately joins to transition into the Jewish community, were not as starkly opposed as is traditionally thought. In fact, it may be said that instead of treating each other as theological and political enemies, the two groups depended on each other financially and socially for support. In the chapter on marriages, Rustow makes this clear by investigating and commenting on the extent to which ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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