Analogical Resources I: The <i>a fortiori</i> Inference

Alexander Samely

in Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780198270317
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191683978 | DOI:
Analogical Resources I: The a fortiori Inference

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This chapter provides a basis for analogical extensions of norms and categories. The Mishnaic a fortiori inference or qal wa-homer consists of an analogical transfer between subjects which need not be represented by or linked to biblical wording. Its function in the Mishnaic discourse is often explorative rather than apodictic. The chapter also discusses the mechanism of the inference using an assignment of categories to the two subjects; a ranking of these categories in a dimension of comparison; and the transfer of what is known about one of them to the other based on its higher rank in the comparison of categories. The chapter concludes that one may have the impression that the a fortiori belongs to the generally prominent dimension of the Mishnah which supplements authoritative solutions by heuristic probing and didactic presentation.

Keywords: analogical extensions; qal wa-homer; a fortiori experience; heuristic probing; didactic presentation; mechanism of inference; ranking of categories

Chapter.  10689 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Biblical Studies

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