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Religion Library: Judaism

Schisms and Sects

Written by: Marc A. Krell


KaraitesRabbinic tradition
reject the Talmud as human creation
only Hebrew Bible is necessary
accept the Talmud as authoritative
Written and Oral Torah are needed

Title: A Karaite synagogue in Lithuania Source:


In response, the Karaites only increased their polemics against the "Rabbanites" by criticizing their promotion of worship outside of Jerusalem, arguing that all Jews must come to Jerusalem to publically mourn the destruction of the Temple and exchange any material prosperity they have gained in exile for a life of asceticism there. Ultimately, while the rabbis were able to suppress the Jewish gnostics until the 13th-century emergence of Kabbalah, the schism between the Karaites and Rabbanites was irreparable and produced permanent Karaite communities, some of which still exist today.

Study Questions:
1.     Who were the gnostics? Why were they at tension with the early rabbinic mystical seekers?
2.     Describe the development of Jewish mystical thought throughout history.
3.     What is the Hagigah? What does it examine?


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