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Forms of Rabbinic Literature and ThoughtAn Introduction$
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Alexander Samely

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296736

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296736.001.0001

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Oral and Written Texts

Oral and Written Texts

(p.116) 7 Oral and Written Texts
Forms of Rabbinic Literature and Thought

Alexander Samely (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Rabbinic documents present themselves to some extent as having their root in the oral transmission of information. This chapter attempts to summarize some important aspects of the rabbis' own explanation of this, nowadays treated under the label ‘oral Torah’. It then explores the hermeneutic effect of oral contexts, as well as the constitution of ‘social texts’ in the interaction of several voices in conversation. For the latter, two scenarios are considered: the selective use of an existing text in a discussion setting; and a kind of ‘committee’ meeting in which a record of rabbinic information is created from scratch. The chapter concludes with a critique of the idea that rabbinic texts were shaped by or for oral performance.

Keywords:   rabbinic texts, oral Torah, Mishnah, oral recitation, hermeneutic text, social interaction

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