Karaites appeared and became numerous about 1,000 years ago but have since largely disappeared.

What is it about Karaite philosophy or practice that made it popular a thousand years ago?

  • 3
    In a nutshell: was contemporaneously Lite-Judaism. – Oliver Jun 10 '18 at 21:43
  • they didn't want to accept the authority of the gaonim as a nationwide ruling authority and questioned the reliance on the Talmud as a final say in halachic ruling (I remember reading that somewhere) – Menachem Jun 10 '18 at 21:43
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    They attempted to emulate the Sadducees of Second Temple times in several ways, the main ones being, as Menachem wrote, not recognizing the authority of the Oral Law and Rabbis. It's been theorized that they preserved the Essene work known as the Damascus Document found in the Cairo Genizah by Solomon Schechter. Apparently, there were both Karaite and "Rabbanite" communities in Egypt. Sometimes they were in hot dispute, but they also intermarried, as evidenced by the Genizah materials. See cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/… – Gary Jun 10 '18 at 22:34
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    @menachem gary: but why was that popular then and not now? He isn't just seeking a description of their beliefs. – Double AA Jun 10 '18 at 23:51
  • @DoubleAA: the way I remember reading it, it was because the geonim then strengthened the power of talmud and oral law, putting it on par with the written law. Because it was new at that time, there were people who rebelled against it. – Menachem Jun 11 '18 at 0:26

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