Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Accounting by Christine Elizabeth Hayes

By Christine Elizabeth Hayes

During this booklet, Hayes addresses the principal drawback in talmudic experiences over the genesis of halakhic (legal) divergence among the Talmuds produced by way of the Palestinian rabbinic group (c. 370 C.E.) and the Babylonian rabbinic neighborhood (c. 650 C.E.). Hayes analyzes chosen divergences among parallel passages of the 2 Talmuds. continuing on a case-by-case foundation, she considers even if exterior affects (cultural or neighborhood differences), inner elements (textual, hermeneutical, or dialectical), or a few intersection of the 2 top debts for the diversities.

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Extra info for Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Accounting for Halakhic Difference in Selected Sugyot from Tractate Avodah Zarah

Sample text

It should be clear from my earlier discussion (Source Criticism of Talmudic Texts) that the assumption—widely but not universally accepted among modern talmudic scholars—that diachronic strata can be distinguished within the talmudic texts rests upon the persuasive results of recent literary and source critical studies. These studies have shown a lack of editorial homogenization and a corresponding preservation of the specific characteristics of many of the Talmuds' various sources. They have further demonstrated the utility (not to be confused with infallibility) of rabbinic attributions for determining the generational and geographical provenance of a rabbinic teaching, and have also shown the overall consistency with which attributions mark the relative chronological order of sources, thus facilitating the identification of diachronic layers in the Talmuds.

These traditions capture the sages' perception of themselves as participating in the continuous unfolding of God's will through time, as well as their perception of the basic organic unity of the Written Torah and the Oral Torah even when the latter is not grounded in direct exegesis of the former. The rabbis seem to understand what so many modern scholars have failed to realize—that they occupied a place at the intersection of hermeneutics and history, of tradition and transformation. Steven Fraade describes this "double-facing" characteristic of rabbinic texts as the interplay of constraint and freedom: For our understanding of such texts' discursive practices and purposes must condition the historiographic manners in which we employ the information that they contain.

For example, the Bavli's juxtaposition of a beraita (attested perhaps in the Tosefta but not raised in the Yerushalmi) might create a legal problem by contradicting the mishnah at hand and so force an oqimta—a delimitation of the scope of a teaching (in this case, the mishnah) so as to allow for the contrary teaching of another source. If, however, it can be shown that a tradition is intentionally suppressed in one text while being actively endorsed in the other (and not simply introduced to advance the construction of a dialectical argument), then there is a prima facie case for attempting an external or historical explanation.

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