Orthodoxy and Talmudic Criticism? On Misleading Attributions in the Talmud

Orthodoxy and Talmudic Criticism? On Misleading Attributions in the Talmud Critical approaches to the Talmud flourished among liberal elements in nineteenth-century Jewry. Scholars whose aim was to introduce further alterations to Jewish law found backing for their agenda in their scientific treatment of the Talmud, emphasizing the dynamic transmission of this central Jewish tradition. However, describing the emergence of Talmud criticism without considering the contribution of traditional writers would be misleading. Orthodox scholars did occasionally arrive at and elaborate on critical insights, at times precisely in order to defend their conservative views. An instructive example of this phenomenon comes from the writings of a leading opponent of Wissenschaft des Judentums , Yitzhak Isaac Halevy (1847–1917). In one of his apologetic discussions, Halevy introduced a revolutionary principle, according to which the Talmud would often attribute an original phrase by an Amora to that same Amora in other halakhic contexts. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Zutot Brill

Orthodoxy and Talmudic Criticism? On Misleading Attributions in the Talmud

Zutot, Volume 13 (1): 70 – Mar 11, 2016

Orthodoxy and Talmudic Criticism? On Misleading Attributions in the Talmud


Introduction As one might expect, critical approaches to rabbinic literature, and particularly to the Talmud, flourished among liberal elements in nineteenth-century Jewry. 1 Naturally, thinkers whose aim was to introduce further alterations to Jewish law found backing for their reformist agenda in the diachronic study of the changes in various traditions, and from the emphasis on the dynamic nature of this lengthy process. Expressions of doubt regarding the accuracy of these traditions or their purported origins were consistent with their call for halakhic reform. At the same time, more conservative elements in Jewish society felt threatened by the critical investigation of rabbinic texts. Traditional thinkers portrayed a static halakhic system, subject neither to corruption nor to deliberate change. For such thinkers, any demonstration of tradition’s mutability—often the outcome of critical scholarship—would only endanger its future. The questioning of historical traditions’ authenticity could also potentially undermine the status of these traditions for Jews. Nevertheless, any description of the emergence of the critical study of rabbinic literature would be misleading without consideration of the contribution of traditional writers. Notwithstanding the prevailing notion that they rejected critical insights into the Talmud, Orthodox scholars did occasionally arrive at and elaborate on critical insights, albeit at times precisely in order to defend their conservative views. 2 A striking example of the role conservative scholars played in the critical study of rabbinic literature is the work of Raphael Nathan Rabinowitz (1835–1888). Although motivated by traditional concerns, such as the need to resolve difficulties in the talmudic discourse or verify puzzling statements by medieval commentators, the systematic examination of old manuscripts of the Talmud in his magnum opus Diqduqei soferim advanced textual criticism of the Talmud....
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1571-7283
eISSN
1875-0214
D.O.I.
10.1163/18750214-12341282
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Critical approaches to the Talmud flourished among liberal elements in nineteenth-century Jewry. Scholars whose aim was to introduce further alterations to Jewish law found backing for their agenda in their scientific treatment of the Talmud, emphasizing the dynamic transmission of this central Jewish tradition. However, describing the emergence of Talmud criticism without considering the contribution of traditional writers would be misleading. Orthodox scholars did occasionally arrive at and elaborate on critical insights, at times precisely in order to defend their conservative views. An instructive example of this phenomenon comes from the writings of a leading opponent of Wissenschaft des Judentums , Yitzhak Isaac Halevy (1847–1917). In one of his apologetic discussions, Halevy introduced a revolutionary principle, according to which the Talmud would often attribute an original phrase by an Amora to that same Amora in other halakhic contexts.

Journal

ZutotBrill

Published: Mar 11, 2016

Keywords: Talmud; Orthodoxy; Wissenschaft des Judentums ; Rav Papa; Yitzhak Isaac Halevy; attributions

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