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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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Esoteric as a Social Category

Esoteric as a Social Category

(p.32) Chapter 3 Esoteric as a Social Category
Secret Groups in Ancient Judaism

Michael E. Stone

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the social contexts that determine esoteric content. Knowledge is not of itself esoteric; it is its socially recognized secrecy that makes it so. Names of angels are one example of this. Secrecy enhances value and power, both for the initiate and for the outsider. Problems in testing analyses of secret societies and the function of secret societies are explored. We look at control of knowledge and scribal secrecy and the role of writing in esoteric knowledge. The question of pseudepigraphy stands at the center of this discussion. Does it reflect some religious experience? Or is it an authority-conferring convention?

Keywords:   social groups, esoteric, secret, social function of secrecy, power, pseudepigraphy

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