The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture, 100 C.E. -350 C.E.

The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture, 100 C.E. -350 C.E. : Texts on Education and Their Late Antique Context

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In the first five centuries of the common era, in Roman Palestine and Sasanid Persia, a small group of perhaps a couple of thousand Jewish scholars and rabbis were able to secure and sustain a thriving national and educational culture. They procured loyalty to the national language and oversaw the retention of a significant national identity. This accomplishment was unique in the Roman Near East. Few physical artifacts remain to attest to this achievement. But the paucity of physical remains of late antique Jewish learning is in inverse proportion to the scope of the oral teaching, which was committed to writing only in the middle ages. The content of this oral teaching remains the staple of Jewish learning through modern times. Marc Hirshman traces and outlines the ideals and practices of rabbinic learning as presented in the relatively few late antique sources that discuss the processes and ideals of learning in depth . Though oral learning was common in many ancient cultures, the Jewish approach has a different theoretical basis and different aims. Hirshman explores the evolution and institutionalization of Jewish culture in both Babylonian and Palestinian sources.
At its core, he argues, the Jewish cultural thrust in the first centuries of the common era was a sustained effort to preserve the language of its culture in its most pristine form. This was done by the rabbis in a very conscious cultural conflict with their surrounding cultures.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 157.48 x 238.76 x 25.4mm | 453.59g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195387740
  • 9780195387742
  • 2,169,731

Table of contents

Contours of Rabbinic Study: An Introduction ; Learning, Speech and Thought in Late Antiquity ; _ ; Sifre Deuteronomy: The Precariousness of Oral Torah ; A Talmudic Primer on Education (Eruvin 53a-55a) ; Cultures in Conflict (Avoda Zara 18b-19b) ; Education and Accountability: (Bava Batra 20b-22a ) ; Teaching with Authority: A Comparative View ; The Stabilization of Rabbinic Culture ; Appendix I: A Survey of Secondary Literature on Education ; and Literacy in Rabbinic Literature ; Appendix II: Portraits of Jewish Sages Engaged in Study ; Bibliography _ ; Index
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Review quote

Marc Hirshman is one of the most interesting and perceptive interpreters of rabbinic Judaism, and this new book of his explores this fascinating but underappreciated cultural and religious movement in a way that both scholars and laypersons can enjoy. For Jews today, his discussions of Jewish education in rabbinic times and its connections to Greco-Roman culture are especially valuable. * Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School and author of Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life * In this learned and engaging book Marc Hirshman illumines a central aspect of rabbinic culture, the attitude toward Torah study, through sensitive close readings of the most important rabbinic discussions of the subject and attention to the wider cultural context. This is an important contribution to our understanding of the world of the rabbis. * Martha Himmelfarb, author of A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism * This lucid and thoughtful book is the first extensive investigation into attitudes towards Torah-study and educational practice in rabbinic Judaism. In a series of close analyses, Marc Hirshman expertly leads his readers through a number of important and complex passages in rabbinic literature, thereby exposing them not only to the rabbis' ideas but to their ways of thinking, and to how the rabbis wished to inculcate their students with those paths to knowledge. * David Stern, Ruth Meltzer Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature at the University of Pennsylvania *
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About Marc Hirshman

Hirshman is the Associate Professor of Jewish Education, at the Hebrew University
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