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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J052-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 01, 2022, from

Article Summary

The Karaites (qara’im, or benei miqra) take their name from the Hebrew word for Scripture. The sect’s scripturalism originated in its rejection of the ‘Oral Law’ embodied in rabbinic literature. Like earlier scripturalist groups – notably the Sadducees – Karaites sought to derive their practices directly from the biblical text. While Karaism is usually traced to mid-eighth-century Iraq, the early history remains murky. The sect crystallized in the Islamic East during the late ninth and early tenth centuries, calling forth stern reactions from the leaders of mainstream rabbinic Judaism. Although harsh at times, the ensuing polemics stimulated both Karaite and Rabbanite scholarship in the fields of biblical exegesis, Hebrew grammar and lexicography, jurisprudence and religious philosophy. The two groups differed sharply over points of law and practice – the calendar, dietary laws, Sabbath regulations – but typically concurred on questions of theology.

Citing this article:
Frank, Daniel H.. Karaism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J052-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2022 Routledge.

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