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The central legal collection of early rabbinic (= Tannaitic) Judaism. Based on rabbinic traditions compiled about 200 CE, it contains ordinances on such matters as marriage, Sabbath observance, sacrifices, ritual purification, civil law, etc; part of the Talmud. See also Tannaitic and Tosephta.



One of the names for the original Christians in Judaea; also known as Jesseans according to Epiphanius, an early Christian writer.



A term referring to the way the words are spelled in a manuscript or printed text.



Prepared animal skin on which text is written.


The first five books of scripture (the Books of Moses): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the first of three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible.


One of the three orders or sects of Jews described by Josephus and other ancient sources during the Second Temple period. Originally, an essentially lay group formed from one of the branches of the Hasidim of the Maccabaean age. By the time of John Hyrcanus I there was Pharisaic objection to his usurpation, as a non-Zadokite, of the high priesthood, though they were willing to accept him as the national leader. Eight hundred Pharisees were accused by Alexander Jannaeus of collusion with the Syrian Seleucid king Demetrius III Eucaerus and condemned by Jannaeus to die on the cross. By the time of Josephus they were the largest of the various groups and had the popular support of the people. They were characterized by their "free" interpretation of the Bible, adherence to oral traditions, strict observance of rites and interpretation, belief in future retribution, belief in angels and other spiritual beings, divine providence cooperating with free will, the immortality of the soul, the bodily resurrection of the dead, and a coming Messiah. Some commentators suggest that Jesus was from a Pharisee family and background. Similarities between his teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and those of Pharisee teachers, such as Hillel, seem to support the contention that Jesus 'was himself a Pharisee'.


Collection of Biblical hymns, i.e. sacred songs or poems used in worship and non-canonical passages.


Pseudonymous or anonymous Jewish and early Christian religious writings of the period 200 BCE to 200 CE, especially those attributed to ancient biblical figures, often giving imaginative retellings of biblical stories or professing to tell the future, that were included among the apocryphal writings (see Apocrypha) in the Septuagint.


rabbinic Judaism

The form of Judaism that became most widely accepted from the second century CE on. It espouses various teachings of the rabbis ("masters" or "great ones") or hakhamim ("sages") as binding for Jewish thought and practice. Rabbinic Judaism harks back to the earlier Pharisaic Judaism; like the Pharisees, the rabbinic Jews accept the validity of oral tradition, beliefs in angels and spirits, and the resurrection of the dead.

ritual purity

In the case of the Jews, the special state of cleanness required of those who would observe the laws of the Pentateuch relating to the pure and impure and take part in various religious ceremonies. Ritual purity involved both the avoidance of certain people (e.g., lepers), items (e.g., a corpse), or animals (e.g., mice) considered as defiling, and the performance of certain kinds of washings and other rituals in order to purify oneself after coming into contact with things considered defiling.

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