Romanization and Its Discontents

Hayim Lapin

in Rabbis as Romans

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780195179309
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950355 | DOI:
Romanization and Its Discontents

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Unlike most of the chapters, which have addressed historical questions, this chapter consists of a series of readings of rabbinic texts. Of interest is the way in which rabbinic texts manifest their “hybrid” character: at once Roman provincial texts and articulations of Rabbis’, and by extension Jews’ difference from the larger population. Most of the texts selected are organized around a passage from the Mishnah that mentions violation of the “rule of the Jews” and “rule of Moses” as grounds for divorce. Here, what is of interest is the way in which Rabbis articulate Jewish wifely behaviour in terms that participate broadly in cultural debates about gender, the body, and identity in the Roman empire (and in one case through the adoption of distinctly Christian language for Adam). Another cluster of texts deals more explicitly with the state, using as the basis for discussion a series of anecdotes dealing with the Roman military official Ursicinus. Here the Rabbis’ apparent amnesia about recent history is interrogated for the possibility that it is a stance with respect to the Roman state, and that tradents and redactors operated with fuller knowledge than appears explicitly in the texts.

Keywords: Ursicinus; marriage; baths; bathing; Adam; Eve; Christology; women; divorce; Sabbath lamps; menstruation; Hallah

Chapter.  12484 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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