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Wisdom, Politics, and HistoriographyTractate Avot in the Context of the Graeco-Roman Near East$
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Amram Tropper

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267125

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267125.001.0001

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Avot, Wisdom, and Artistic Prose

Avot, Wisdom, and Artistic Prose

(p.51) 2 Avot, Wisdom, and Artistic Prose
Wisdom, Politics, and Historiography

Amram Tropper

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the question of the literary genre of Avot in an attempt to understand the type of composition created by Avot's editor. The first section situates Avot within the wisdom tradition after a brief overview of the major trends in wisdom scholarship. Since Avot expresses traditional wisdom themes by means of artistic literary forms, the tractate belongs to the literary genre of Jewish wisdom. The second section considers the artistic prose of Avot, examining three essential poetic features of the Avot sayings: the presence of the rhythmic prose, poetic parallelisms, and carefully planned literary structures. It demonstrates that Avot is a more artistic and poetic literary creation than generally believed. The third section considers why wisdom was expressed as a speech art in Avot.

Keywords:   parallelism, wisdom tradition, rhythm, wisdom scholarship, tractate, envelope structure

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