Reading the Rabbis: The Talmud as Literature

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byDavid Kraemer

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Traditionally, the Talmud was read as law, that is, as the authoritative source for Jewish practice and obligations. To this end, it was studied at the level of its most minute details, with readers often ignoring the composite whole and attending only to final decisions. Methods of readinghave shifted as more readers and students have turned to the Talmud for evidence of rabbinic history, religion, rhetoric, or anthropology; still, few have employed a genuinely literary approach. In Reading the Rabbis, Kraemer attempts to fill this gap. He uses the tools developed in the study ofother literatures, particularly rhetorical and reader-response criticisms, to unearth previously unnoticed levels of meaning. His book offers a new understanding of the complexity of Rabbinic Judaism, and a new model of rabbinic piety.

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Traditionally, the Talmud was read as law, that is, as the authoritative source for Jewish practice and obligations. To this end, it was studied at the level of its most minute details, with readers often ignoring the composite whole. Methods of reading have shifted as more readers have turned to the Talmud for evidence of rabbinic his...

From the Publisher

Traditionally, the Talmud was read as law, that is, as the authoritative source for Jewish practice and obligations. To this end, it was studied at the level of its most minute details, with readers often ignoring the composite whole and attending only to final decisions. Methods of readinghave shifted as more readers and students have...

David Kraemer is at Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 8.62 × 5.87 × 0.79 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195096231

ISBN - 13:9780195096231

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From Our Editors

Traditionally, the Talmud was read as law, that is, as the authoritative source for Jewish practice and obligations. To this end, it was studied at the level of its most minute details, with readers often ignoring the composite whole. Methods of reading have shifted as more readers have turned to the Talmud for evidence of rabbinic history, religion, rhetoric, or anthropology; still, few have employed a genuinely literary approach. In Reading the Rabbis, Kraemer attempts to fill this gap by developing a method for reading the Talmud as literature. He draws on the tools developed in the study of other literatures, particularly rhetorical and reader-response criticisms, to unearth previously unnoticed levels of meaning. The result is that readers will gain a new understanding of the complexity of Rabbinic Judaism, and a new model of rabbinic piety.

Editorial Reviews

"...this book makes an important argument for seeing the Bavli as literature, and for engaging in the analysis of sugyot from a literary perspective."--Hebrew Studies