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Talmudic Stories

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Overview

How should we understand the stories of the Babylonian Talmud? Where do they come from? Why are they in the Talmud? How do they relate to Talmudic law? In Talmudic Stories, Jeffrey Rubenstein deepens our appreciation for the complexity of these texts by drawing attention to the literary aspects and cultural contexts that are essential to understanding their narrative art, meanings, and importance. Focusing on six famous stories of the Babylonian Talmud and discussing many others in relation to these, Rubenstein's analysis illuminates the ways in which the rabbis used narratives to grapple with fundamental tensions of their culture. The book also features an appendix including the original Hebrew/Aramaic texts for the reader's reference.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
This book offers the best set of literary readings of Talmudic materials in English, and the best English introduction to the issues such readings entail, that this reviewer has seen.
Journal of Jewish Studies - Sacha Stern
This book goes well beyond the explanation of difficult Talmudic stories. It presents, indeed, an entirely innovative theory. Rubenstein's argument is not only important, but also, I think, persuasive. This book should not be allowed to go unnoticed: in a well-trodden field like Talmudic studies one rarely gets the feeling that a major breakthrough has been achieved.
Shofar - Gary G. Porton
Rubenstein has produced a fascinating volume... Anyone who reads this book will find important new insights.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion - Eliezer Segal
This is a mature work, in which the author invested much labor and thought. The thoroughness, methodical diversity, and scholarly discretion can serve as a model of the demanding standards that are to be expected from serious research into rabbinic literature.
Journal of Biblical Literature - Carol Bakhos
It analyzes several notable rabbinic stories in a fresh and detailed manner.
Hebrew Studies - Jonathan Schofer
A distinctive and nuanced analysis of six narratives from the Babylonian Talmud... I would recommend this excellent book to Rubenstein's intended audience as well as anyone who is interested in the literary analysis of religious narratives... Rubenstein's analyses are careful and thorough, and he argues his points well. In addition, Talmudic Stories opens up a host of new challenges.
Religious Studies Review - Marc Bregman
This work establishes Rubenstein as the leading scholar of narrative in the Babylonian Talmud.
Choice

This book offers the best set of literary readings of Talmudic materials in English, and the best English introduction to the issues such readings entail, that this reviewer has seen.

Journal of Jewish Studies
This book goes well beyond the explanation of difficult Talmudic stories. It presents, indeed, an entirely innovative theory. Rubenstein's argument is not only important, but also, I think, persuasive. This book should not be allowed to go unnoticed: in a well-trodden field like Talmudic studies one rarely gets the feeling that a major breakthrough has been achieved.

— Sacha Stern

Shofar
Rubenstein has produced a fascinating volume... Anyone who reads this book will find important new insights.

— Gary G. Porton

Journal of the American Academy of Religion
This is a mature work, in which the author invested much labor and thought. The thoroughness, methodical diversity, and scholarly discretion can serve as a model of the demanding standards that are to be expected from serious research into rabbinic literature.

— Eliezer Segal

Journal of Biblical Literature
It analyzes several notable rabbinic stories in a fresh and detailed manner.

— Carol Bakhos

Hebrew Studies
A distinctive and nuanced analysis of six narratives from the Babylonian Talmud... I would recommend this excellent book to Rubenstein's intended audience as well as anyone who is interested in the literary analysis of religious narratives... Rubenstein's analyses are careful and thorough, and he argues his points well. In addition, Talmudic Stories opens up a host of new challenges.

— Jonathan Schofer

Religious Studies Review
This work establishes Rubenstein as the leading scholar of narrative in the Babylonian Talmud.

— Marc Bregman

Booknews
Rubenstein (Hebrew and Judaic studies, New York U.) investigates how to understand the stories of the Babylonian Talmud, where they come from, why they are in the Talmud, and how they relate to Talmudic law. He focuses on six famous stories to examine the literary aspects and cultural contexts that help clarify their narrative art, meanings, and importance. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801877544
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 1,180,293
  • Product dimensions: 1.02 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is an associate professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is the author of The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods; Rabbinic Stories; and the forthcoming The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud, which will also be published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction •Torah, Shame, and "The Oven of Akhnai" (Bava Mesia 59a-59b) • Elisha ben Abuya: Torah and the Sinful Sage (Hagiga 15a-15b) • Torah and the Mundane Life: The Education of R. Shimon bar Yohai (Shabbat 33b-34a) • Rabbinic Authority and the Destruction of Jerusalem (Gittin 55b-56b) • Torah, Lineage, and the Academic Hierarchy (Horayot 13b-14a) • Torah, Gentiles, and Eschatology (Avoda Zara 2a-3b) • Conclusion

Johns Hopkins University Press

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