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Dissident RabbiThe Life of Jacob Sasportas$
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Yaacob Dweck

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183572

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183572.001.0001

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(p.85) Two Authority
Dissident Rabbi

Yaacob Dweck

Princeton University Press

This chapter situates the polemic over Sabbatianism as a problem of authority. It casts Jacob Sasportas versus the Sabbatians, particularly Nathan of Gaza. If Sabbatian prophets and their followers drew on their ecstatic physical experience of redemption as the source of legitimacy for their suspension of the law and their introduction of new rituals, Sasportas turned to the bookshelf in order to reinstitute textual discipline. Against the authenticity of their revelations, Sasportas upheld written norms as the sole source of authority. Trained in a tradition that placed emphasis on erudition at the expense of local custom or individual experience, Sasportas took pride in his mastery over the entirety of Jewish law from the Mishnah and the Talmud of antiquity through the codes and commentaries of the Middle Ages up through the most recent responsa. The chapter then examines the debate over messianic authority as it transformed into one of text versus text.

Keywords:   Sabbatianism, Jacob Sasportas, Sabbatians, Nathan of Gaza, Sabbatian prophets, physical experience, redemption, textual discipline, Jewish law, messianic authority

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