In this pathbreaking study Jeffrey L. Rubenstein reconstructs the cultural milieu of the rabbinic academy that produced the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, which quickly became the authoritative text of rabbinic Judaism and remains so to this day. Unlike the rabbis who had earlier produced the shorter Palestinian Talmud (the Yerushalmi) and who had passed on their teachings to students individually or in small and informal groups, the anonymous redactors of the Bavli were part of a large institution with a distinctive, isolated, and largely undocumented culture.
The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud explores the cultural world of these Babylonian rabbis and their students through the prism of the stories they included in the Bavli, showing how their presentation of earlier rabbinic teachings was influenced by their own values and practices. Among the topics explored in this broad-ranging work are the hierarchical structure of the rabbinic academy, the use of dialectics in teaching, the functions of violence and shame within the academy, the role of lineage in rabbinic leadership, the marital and family lives of the rabbis, and the relationship between the rabbis and the rest of the Jewish population. This book provides a unique and new perspective on the formative years of rabbinic Judaism and will be essential reading for all students of the Talmud.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is a 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 Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture, the last available from Johns Hopkins.
Table of Contents
|Preface and Acknowledgements||vii|
|Abbreviations and Conventions||ix|
|Chapter 1||The Rabbinic Academy||16|
|Chapter 5||Lineage and Rabbinic Leadership||80|
|Chapter 7||Elitism: The Sages and the Amei ha'arets||123|
|Chapter 8||Conclusion: The Legacy of the Stammaim||143|
What People are Saying About This
Rubenstein's reconstruction of the social setting of the Bavli, building on the work of his previous book, Talmudic Stories, is remarkable because there is no direct evidence for the existence of such an Academy, or the anonymous scholars who labored in it. Recovering the distinctive culture that produced the Bavli is much like recovering the setting for the redaction of the Hebrew Bible. The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud fills a critical scholarly gap and should begin a healthy and overdue discussion of the role, culture, and underestimated contributions of the redactors of the Bavli.
Michael Satlow, Brown University