Classical Rabbinic Literature

Catherine Hezser

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Classical Rabbinic Literature

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Classical rabbinic literature comprises all those ancient Jewish literary compilations which transmit the traditions of tannaitic (70–200 ce) and amoraic (third-to fifth-century ce) rabbis in Palestine and Babylonia: the Mishnah, the Tosefta, the Palestinian and the Babylonian Talmud, and various midrashim. Accordingly, rabbinic literature must be seen as a collective rather than an authorial literature, transmitting a wide variety of partly divergent and contradictory views and teachings rather than providing a linear systematic outline of a particular individual's point of view. The critical study of rabbinic literature began in the nineteenth century with the so-called Wissenschaft des Judentums (Science of Judaism), whose representatives began to apply to rabbinic texts historical and philological methods which were also used in other fields of the humanities. The application of methods and theories from related fields such as literary theory allows one to see the texts from a new perspective.

Keywords: Rabbinic literature; Babylonian Talmud; literary theory; Judaism; midrashim

Article.  12044 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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