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Tales of the Neighborhood

Tales of the Neighborhood: Jewish Narrative Dialogues in Late Antiquity

Galit Hasan-Rokem
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 221
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  • Book Info
    Tales of the Neighborhood
    Book Description:

    In this lively and intellectually engaging book, Galit Hasan-Rokem shows that religion is shaped not only in the halls of theological disputation and institutions of divine study, but also in ordinary events of everyday life. Common aspects of human relations offer a major source for the symbols of religious texts and rituals of late antique Judaism as well as its partner in narrative dialogues, early Christianity, Hasan-Rokem argues. Focusing on the "neighborhood" of the Galilee that is the birthplace of many major religious and cultural developments, this book brings to life the riddles, parables, and folktales passed down in Rabbinic stories from the first half of the first millennium of the Common Era.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92894-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. ONE Erecting the Fence: Texts, Contexts, Theories, and Strategies
    (pp. 1-27)

    This short book seeks to explore the ways in which we can learn something about the relationship between literature and reality in Late Antique Jewish culture by reading the texts that we call Rabbinic literature, the Talmud and the Midrash. The discussion will evolve specifically in terms of narratives told in Hebrew and Aramaic, mostly in the Galilee, sometime between the years 150 and 500 C.E.

    These stories are short and concise, and they are embedded in discursive contexts that often emphasize non-narrative concerns such as Bible exegesis and juridical deliberation. The reason they have stimulated generations of traditional interpretation...

  5. TWO Peeping through a Hole: Comparing and Borrowing
    (pp. 28-54)

    A Babylonian tale (bTa’anit 21b) tells about a woman who was wont to heat her oven and let her neighbors use it. When Droqart, the town where she lived in the great Rav Huna’s vicinity, was afficted by fire, it was by her merit, not the Rabbi’s, as many mistakenly thought, that their neighborhood was spared.

    The Babylonian Talmud, where this tale appears, is the greatest single document of Rabbinic literature of Late Antiquity. Edited between the late fifth and the late sixth centuries, it is devised as a running commentary and elaboration of the Mishnah, which was edited in...

  6. THREE Building the Gate, or Neighbors Make Good Fences
    (pp. 55-85)

    Rabbi Shim’on Ben [Bar] Yohai said: “Peace is the greatest blessing as it contains all the other blessings.” [As it is written] “The Lord will give strength unto his people: the Lord will bless his people with peace.” (Psalms 29:11)

    Rabbi Ishmael taught: “Peace is so great that the Holy One allowed the [Holy] name written in sanctity to be blotted out by water to make peace between husband and wife.”

    Rabbi Meir used to sit and teach on Sabbath nights. There was a woman who used to sit and listen to him. Once his teaching was extended, and she...

  7. FOUR The Evasive Center: Hadrian, the Old Man, the Neighbor, and the Rabbinic Rhetoric of the Empire
    (pp. 86-137)

    The tale about Hadrian, the old man, and the neighbor and her husband is one of the most distinct examples of folktales among the narratives of the Palestinian Aggadic Midrash Leviticus Rabbah. Also, as a prime example of the sophistication of Rabbinic literature, it on one hand teaches us about the considerable efforts invested by the Rabbis in the incorporation of folk narratives into their writings, and on the other demonstrates the collapse of the dichotomy between folk literature and “high” literature in the writings.

    My analysis of the tale will explicitly address the different contexts of interpretation: the literary,...

  8. FIVE Between Us: A Conclusion
    (pp. 138-144)

    The tales of the neighborhood that have been the focus of this book tell about the “neighborhood” of the Galilee in the first half of the first millennium of the Common Era. This neighborhood was at the time the birthing-ground for major religious and cultural formations that would prove consequential for many groups and peoples on a number of continents. Our entry into this milieu through the concept of a neighborhood has stressed small-scale processes, such as human relations and everyday life, rather than the major events of the period. The way religion and concrete details of reality are interwoven...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 145-190)
    (pp. 191-194)
    (pp. 195-204)
    (pp. 205-208)