How should we understand the stories of the Babylonian Talmud? Where do they come from? Why are they in the Talmud? How do they relate to Talmudic law? In Talmudic Stories, Jeffrey Rubenstein deepens our appreciation for the complexity of these texts by drawing attention to the literary aspects and cultural contexts that are essential to understanding their narrative art, meanings, and importance. Focusing on six famous stories of the Babylonian Talmud and discussing many others in relation to these, Rubenstein's analysis illuminates the ways in which the rabbis used narratives to grapple with fundamental tensions of their culture. The book also features an appendix including the original Hebrew/Aramaic texts for the reader's reference.
Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is an associate professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is the author of The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods; Rabbinic Stories; and the forthcoming The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud, which will also be published by Johns Hopkins.
Contents: Introduction *Torah, Shame, and "The Oven of Akhnai" (Bava Mesia 59a-59b) * Elisha ben Abuya: Torah and the Sinful Sage (Hagiga 15a-15b) * Torah and the Mundane Life: The Education of R. Shimon bar Yohai (Shabbat 33b-34a) * Rabbinic Authority and the Destruction of Jerusalem (Gittin 55b-56b) * Torah, Lineage, and the Academic Hierarchy (Horayot 13b-14a) * Torah, Gentiles, and Eschatology (Avoda Zara 2a-3b) * Conclusion