Ritual Impurity and Sin in Tannaitic Literature

Jonathan Klawans

in Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195132908
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848850 | DOI:
Ritual Impurity and Sin in Tannaitic Literature

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This chapter draws a brief contrast between the approach taken and the most clearly delineated approach in the field today in order to situate the methodological assumptions of the present work within contemporary approaches. It specifically describes the approach taken to impurity and sin in tannaitic halakhah. The tannaitic approach to purity is characterized by the “compartmentalization” of the notions of ritual and moral impurity, and of ritual impurity and sin more generally. Moreover, it addresses the fact that in tannaitic halakhah, ritual impurity retains an overall similarity to what is articulated in the Torah: ritual impurity is natural and unavoidable, generally not sinful, and is typically impermanent. The chapter also examines more closely the claim that the tannaim “compartmentalized” ritual and moral impurity. Lastly, it presents the fact that in tannaitic halakhah, the issues of sin and atonement are generally kept distinct from issues of defilement and purification.

Keywords: ritual impurity; sin; tannaitic literature; halakhah

Chapter.  14948 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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