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Where to put Biblical, Torah-centered Yahwism in Achaemenid Times?

Prof. Reinhard Kratz (Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen)


In contrast to the earlier, pre-exilic period of the two monarchies Israel and Judah as well as the fate of the exiles in Neo-Babylonian times, we are quite well informed about the provinces of Samaria and Yehud as well as Yahwists and Judeans in the Babylonian and Egyptian diaspora of the Persian and Hellenistic-Roman periods through a wealth of epigraphic sources: the Elephantine and Al-Yahudu documents, small epigraphic evidence (such as seals, bullae, and coins) in Palestine, the Samaria papyri of Wadi Daliyeh, the inscriptions from Mount Gerizim, and last but not least the Dead Sea Scrolls. Apart from a few marginal intersections, however, only the Dead Sea Scrolls and some of the inscriptions from Gerizim, both coming from the Hellenistic-Roman period, contain evidence of biblical and parabiblical literature and Torah-centered ,“biblical” Yahwism among this wealth of sources. The paper will take this fact as an opportunity to discuss the methodological and historical problem of where the scriptures of the later Hebrew Bible and the related parabiblical literature had their historical and sociological place in Achaemenid times.

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