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Religion Talmud

Mishnah and the Social Formation of the Early Rabbinic Guild

A Socio-Rhetorical Approach

by (author) Jack N. Lightstone

appendix by Vernon K. Robbins

Publisher
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, CCSR
Initial publish date
Jan 2006
Category
Talmud, History, Jewish
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780889207295
    Publish Date
    Jan 2006
    List Price
    $42.95
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780889203754
    Publish Date
    May 2002
    List Price
    $42.99

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Description

Where do the origins of the rabbinic movement lie, and how might evidence from the early rabbinic literature be made to reveal those origins?

In order to shed light on the early social formation of the rabbinic guild of masters, Lightstone brings the theoretical and methodological insights of socio-rhetorical analysis to examine Mishnah, the first document authored by the early rabbinic movement and its principal object of study for several centuries.

He argues that the enshrinement of Mishnah served to model, via its pervasive rhetoric, the principal authoritative guild expertise that qualified and marked one as a member of the rabbinic guild. Furthermore, he establishes the social and historical venue in late second- and early third-century Galilee.

The author concludes that the social formation of the early rabbinic guild coalesced around the institution of the Jewish Patriarchy, for which the early rabbis served as bureaucratic-scribal retainers. He further suggests that the development of both the Patriarchy in the Land of Israel and the social formation of the rabbinic guild may have been spurred by the imposition of Roman-style urbanization in the region over the course of the latter half of the second and beginning of the third century.

Lightstone’s approach is informed by the insights and methods of several cognate disciplines, encompassing literary analysis, sociology and anthropology, and history (including, in the last chapter, the history of material culture). The book will be of interest to advanced students in the history of Judaism, rabbinic literature, biblical studies, early Christianity, and the history of religion and culture in the late Roman Near East.

About the authors

Jack N. Lightstone is Vice-President Academic at Concordia University in Montreal. His previous publications include Society, the Sacred, and Scripture in Ancient Judaism and The Rhetoric of the Babylonian Talmud, Its Social Meaning and Context. Frederick B. Bird teaches Comparative Ethics and the Sociology of Religion at Concordia University.

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Other titles by Jack N. Lightstone