Temple Ideology and Hellenistic Private Associations

In: Dead Sea Discoveries

Abstract

Soon after the discovery of 1QS, comparisons with private associations from the Hellenistic and Roman world were suggested. There are clearly some parallels in internal organization. However, scholars using this comparison to explain features of the yaḥad have rarely taken the environment that made associations in the Hellenistic world possible into account. By way of a comparison of attitudes towards temples, this article seeks to reintroduce the social context of private associations into the debate. While Hellenistic associations can be said to have developed temple ideologies not dissimilar to certain features of the yaḥad, the conditions, aims and implications of those respective ideologies were fundamentally different. This has obvious implications for understanding the social identity of members, and should caution against decontextualized comparisons.

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