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Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism$
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Michael E. Stone

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190842383

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190842383.001.0001

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Secret Societies in Ancient Judaism

Secret Societies in Ancient Judaism

(p.1) Chapter 1 Secret Societies in Ancient Judaism
Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

Michael E. Stone

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the sources available for knowledge of Jewish esoteric groups, distinguishing between “insider” and “outsider” sources. The Essenes and the Qumran covenanters as a secret society are introduced. The keeping of secrets in the Greco–Roman world and the consequent importance of archaeology in discovering these secrets are briefly discussed. Typical features of secret societies are given: gradual initiation and limitation of membership, hierarchical organization with different levels, and stages of admission to the special knowledge. The main categories are “secret–open,” not “sectarian–normative,” as in previous studies. Analogous secret cults in the Greco–Roman world are also listed.

Keywords:   esotericism, sectarianism, Essenes, Qumran, secrecy, secret societies, normative, initiation, raz

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