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Stories of the LawNarrative Discourse and the Construction of Authority in the Mishnah$
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Moshe Simon-Shoshan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199773732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199773732.001.0001

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Etiological Stories: Original Nightmares

Etiological Stories: Original Nightmares

(p.194) 9 Etiological Stories: Original Nightmares
Stories of the Law

Moshe Simon-Shoshan

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the final genre of mishnaic story, the etiological story. These stories present rabbinic responses to historical crises and establish the rabbis’ right to adapt the law to changing circumstances. These stories also reflect the rabbis fundamentally pessimistic view of history as series of continuous crises and declines in spirituality that will be reversed only with the coming of the Messiah. The final section of the chapter treats a series of etiological stories that are set in the Temple. These stories challenge the idealized view of the Temple and its rituals found in the rest of the Mishnah. They also present a view of the relationship between law and narrative in which the forms are radically opposed.

Keywords:   etiological story, temple, history, crisis

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