T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIE W, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 242–247 The Bavli, the Roman East, and Mesopotamian Christianity RICHARD K ALMIN Jewish Theological Seminary of America S CHO LARLY ST UDY of the Persian nexus of the Bavli began approxi- mately a century and a half ago, but this study has entered a new stage of methodological rigor and sophistication during the past two decades. In the tremendous enthusiasm for the study of Bavli in its Persian con- text, however, some scholars have forgotten the obvious point that it is essential to use all of the cultural contexts at our disposal. The ensuing discussion suggests a few areas where that study is already ongoing and has yielded important results and would greatly beneﬁt from additional research. One very promising area of comparative study of the Bavli is the litera- ture of the Mesopotamian neighbors of the Babylonian rabbis, the Syriac- speaking Christians. Shlomo Naeh’s seminal 1997 essay on the Bavli’s use of Syriac Christian literature, ‘‘Freedom and Celibacy,’’ was a major step forward in literary sensitivity, philological precision, and breadth of scholarly learning. Naeh observed that the rabbinic
Jewish Quarterly Review – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jun 22, 2016
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