By Alexander Samely
Alexander Samely surveys the corpus of rabbinic literature, which was once written in Hebrew and Aramaic approximately 1500 years in the past and which incorporates the rules of Judaism, particularly the Talmud. The rabbinic works are brought in teams, illustrated through shorter and longer passages, and defined in keeping with their literary buildings and genres. Tables and summaries supply brief details on key issues: the person works and their nature, the recurrent literary varieties that are used largely in numerous works, options of rabbinic Bible interpretation, and discourse ideas of the Talmud. Key themes of present examine into the texts are addressed: their courting to one another, their solidarity, their ambiguous and 'unsystematic' personality, and their roots in oral culture. Samely explains why the nature of the texts is important to an knowing of rabbinic idea, and why they pose particular difficulties to fashionable, Western-educated readers.
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Additional resources for Forms of Rabbinic Literature and Thought: An Introduction
S. Alexander’s ‘Jewish Aramaic Translations’ and Flesher’s ‘The Targumim’. Liturgical poetry is treated in Weinberger, Jewish Hymnography. An excellent survey of synagogue worship is Petuchowski, ‘The Liturgy of the Synagogue’. The apparatus of textual information which grew up around the biblical text and its transmission is surveyed in Dotan, ‘Masorah’. Baumgarten, ‘ ‘‘But Touch the Law’’ ’, addresses the question of what sort of ideological diVerence would actually have led to ‘schisms’ in ancient Judaism; cf.
Which of these two explanations for diversity is adopted tends to depend on a scholar’s wider approach to the historical reconstruction of rabbinic Judaism. There are also other ways to make visible dividing lines within rabbinic literature. There are long-standing attempts to diVerentiate the rabbinic works from each other, or to identify pre-existing parts within them, by historical provenance. Thus important terminological or stylistic peculiarities have been identiWed which are typical of some (groups of) documents, but not others.
Additionally, there is the fact that certain sub-sets of rabbis frequently quoted can be typical for a (part of a) document, which is very suggestive as it may link texts to putative circles of Parts and Wholes in Rabbinic Literature 31 rabbinic masters. It is also often thought that there were two rival approaches in Bible interpretation, tied probably anachronistically to the names of R. Aqiva and R. 5 It is much harder, however, to claim that diVerences on the level of halakhic or aggadic outlook and message also coincide with these boundaries between works or groups of works.