Martin S. Jaffee

in Torah in the Mouth

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140675
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834334 | DOI:

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Introduces key technical terms referring to the composition and transmission of oral tradition, and proposes a general theoretical model for studying the various elements of Jewish oral tradition in particular. The most important technical terms are: “oral‐literary tradition” (defined as “verbal products of a culture that have pretensions beyond everyday speech”); “oral‐performative tradition” (defined as “the sum of performative strategies” for transmitting the content of oral‐literary tradition); and “text‐interpretive tradition” (defined as “the body of interpretive understandings that arise from multiple performances of a text”). The theoretical model of oral tradition employed here enables studies of the interrelationships among three dimensions of Jewish oral tradition: the textual substance of the tradition, the social settings for its transmission, and, most importantly, the ideological system by which the texts of oral tradition are represented. For rabbinic Judaism, the concept of Torah in the Mouth and the description of the earliest rabbinic text (the Mishnah) as repeated tradition are the crucial ideological elements under study.

Keywords: Mishnah; model of oral tradition; oral tradition; oral‐literary tradition; oral‐performative tradition; rabbinic Judaism; repeated tradition; text‐interpretive tradition; Torah in the Mouth

Chapter.  5388 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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