Time and Life Cycle in Talmud and Midrash: Socio-Anthropological Perspectives, by Nissan Rubin. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2008. 228 pp. $70.00. Nissan Rubin, Bar Ilan, summarizes his view of the sociological-anthropological perspective on Talmud and Midrash in the following language: "Jewish society is based on the written text. . . . The context, the social reality . . . is likely to change as a result of political and economic shifts." So at issue is history and the changes that it registers. Historical facts produced by the politics and economics of the community of Israel therefore figure prominently in his analysis. Rubin's results stand or fall on the basis of the historical-critical method that animates his description of facts and analysis of their meaning. True, the anthropological approach aims at presenting the cultural perspective of the sages. But the entire project depends on historical facts, as Rubin makes clear in the inclusion in his title of "Time," a historical variable. Unfortunately, the claim that the Rabbinic canon supplies facts of history is not tested but assumed. The result is uncritical--pseudo-history and therefore hopeless. He states, "The idea in most of the essays is that long-term changes in social
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Jun 24, 2010
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