The Mind of the Talmud: An Intellectual History of the Bavli

The Mind of the Talmud: An Intellectual History of the Bavli

by David Charles Kraemer
     
 

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This critical study traces the development of the literary forms and conventions of the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, analyzing those forms as expressions of emergent rabbinic ideology. The Bavli, which evolved between the third and sixth centuries in Sasanian Iran (Babylonia), is the most comprehensive of all documents produced by rabbinic Jews in late antiquity.

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Overview

This critical study traces the development of the literary forms and conventions of the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, analyzing those forms as expressions of emergent rabbinic ideology. The Bavli, which evolved between the third and sixth centuries in Sasanian Iran (Babylonia), is the most comprehensive of all documents produced by rabbinic Jews in late antiquity. It became the authoritative legal source for medieval Judaism, and for some its opinions remain definitive today. Kraemer here examines the characteristic preference for argumentation and process over settled conclusions of the Bavli. By tracing the evolution of the argumentational style, he describes the distinct eras in the development of rabbinic Judaism in Babylonia. He then analyzes the meaning of the disputational form and concludes that the talmudic form implies the inaccessibility of perfect truth and that on account of this opinion, the pursuit of truth, in the characteristic talmudic concern for rabbinic process, becomes the ultimate act of rabbinic piety.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A very important contribution...to the modern study of rabbinic Judaism; any library with holdings in religious studies or Judaic studies should have this book."—Choice

"Provides much food for thought for the history of rabbinic ideas."—Religious Studies Review

"Using rigorous scholarly methods of literary criticism, the study of religion, and the sociology of knowledge ... Professor Kraemer docmuments how the structure of the Talmud speaks to the religiou struggles of today's Jews ... This book heralds a vital partnership between academy and synagogue."—Conservative Judaism

"A delightful dance of theology and intellectual revisionism....Those who have the patience to follow the delights of his well wrought argument will close the book profoundly satisfied and deeply disturbed."—Shofar

"A significant work—well thought through, balanced in its judgments, judicious in its criticism of other scholarship, vigorously and carefully argued, and lucidly written. It is very much on the forefront of its field, displaying considerable methodological and conceptual sophistication, and responding as well to much recent work in the areas of literary and rhetorical criticism, religious studies, and the sociology of knowledge."—Richard S. Sarason, Hebrew Union College

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195062908
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
12/28/1990
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)

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