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Monday, February 7, 2011

Tradition Kept



Tradition Kept
Robert T. Anderson, Terry Giles
Baker Academic, 4/01/2005



The Samaritans or Northern Israelite, who claim descent from the tribes of Ephraim and Menasseh, have had a seperate literary tradition alongside their Jewish bretheren that stems from the Torah. Their pentateuch or first five books of Moses is almost the same as the pentateuch of the Jews. THe first chapter of the book identifies and analyzes the 4 sources of the Bible. The book of E or Elohim, the book of J or Yahweh, the priestly source and the Northern source. The Samaritan version comes from the Northern source. The Samaritans also have a book of Joshua but it is way different from the book of Joshua the Jews use. The Samaritan book of Joshua traces the history of Mose's passing and Joshua's ascencion to leadership. The book discusses the wars of the Israelite conquest of Canaan and beyond. Much the same as the one used by the Jews but there are many differences. The Samaritans do not believe that Jerusalem is the Holy Place for the children of Israel. They believe that Mount Gerizim is the Holy Place where the Tabernacle or Holy Ark belongs.
The book of Joshua is also the book of History of the Samaritans.

According to Samaritan theology, historiography and mythology. The time of Judges was really a time of divine favor for the Israelites and the judges were in fact kings of Israel. These were good times for the nation of Israel. But then things went sour. The Israelite strayed. The first to stray was Eli the priest. He erred by establishing a false temple in Shiloh . THe Israelites also erred in the acceptance of foreign idols. The Nation was divided and had sinned. The High Priest found a cave in Mount Gerizim and hid the temple artifacts their. Later on the Kingdoms of the north and south would divide even further with Rehoboam leading the south and Jereboam leading the North. Jereboam would cause further division by setting up a temple at Bethel and having the ISraelites worship idol their. Interesting to note that Samuel the prophet is described as a sorcerer and magician and the Davidic line is described as sinful and errant.

Further on in History the Greeks would take over the country. To placate Alexander the Samaritans would name all their children after Alexander instead of placing idols in sanctuary and bowing to them. THe Roman would persecute them as would the Byzantine Greeks. Baba Raba was the Samaritan Leader who devised a scheme to defeat the copper owl placed on Gerizim  by the Byzantines to prevent the Samaritans from ascending the mountain. Baba Raba sent his nephew to learn in the seminaries of the Christian Byzantines as a ploy to figure out how to defeat the copper owl. The nephew eventually rose to rank of Bishop. It was while leading a group of Christians that the nephew ascended the mountain and destroyed the owl. A great slaguhter ensued and Baba Raba was eventually held as a royal hostage in Byzantium never to return to his native land. He was buried in a synagogue that was later converted to a church.

Tradition kept analyzes the varuious works of literature important to the Samaritans. Such works include Abul Fathi, Tibat Maqare and Asatir book. Also examine are the liturgy and amulet making procedure. For understanding the Samaritans this book essential.

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