In this pathbreaking study Jeffrey L. Rubenstein reconstructs the cultural milieu of the rabbinic academy that produced the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, which quickly became the authoritative text of rabbinic Judaism and remains so to this day. Unlike the rabbis who had earlier produced the shorter Palestinian Talmud (the Yerushalmi) and who had passed on their teachings to students individually or in small and informal groups, the anonymous redactors of the Bavli were part of a large institution with a distinctive, isolated, and largely undocumented culture.
The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud explores the cultural world of these Babylonian rabbis and their students through the prism of the stories they included in the Bavli, showing how their presentation of earlier rabbinic teachings was influenced by their own values and practices. Among the topics explored in this broad-ranging work are the hierarchical structure of the rabbinic academy, the use of dialectics in teaching, the functions of violence and shame within the academy, the role of lineage in rabbinic leadership, the marital and family lives of the rabbis, and the relationship between the rabbis and the rest of the Jewish population. This book provides a unique and new perspective on the formative years of rabbinic Judaism and will be essential reading for all students of the Talmud.
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
This well organized, well written, fascinating, broad ranging, carefully argued book reconstructs the cultural milieu of the rabbinic academy that produced the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli). * Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter *
A picture of the inner life of rabbinic academies in late-antique Babylonia (now Iraq)... This book is important for all libraries with collections in Judaic or ancient religion. * Choice *
[Rubenstein's] style of writing is remarkably clear and deserves special recognition... His familiarity with the aggadot he analyzes, his precise translations, and his clear analysis make the book a pleasure to read. His historical conjectures and reconstructions make it a must. -- Joshua Kulp * Journal of Biblical Literature *
Rubenstein remains a dynamic, productive scholar, whose future works should be looked forward to with anticipation and interest. -- Sacha Stern * Journal of Jewish Studies *