This book studies the significance of sight in rabbinic cultures across Palestine and Mesopotamia (approximately first to seventh centuries). It tracks the extent and effect to which the rabbis living in the Greco-Roman and Persian worlds sought to appropriate, recast and discipline contemporaneous understandings of sight. Sight had a crucial role to play in the realms of divinity, sexuality and gender, idolatry and, ultimately, rabbinic subjectivity. The rabbis lived in a world in which the eyes were at once potent and vulnerable: eyes were thought to touch objects of vision, while also acting as an entryway into the viewer. Rabbis, Romans, Zoroastrians, Christians and others were all concerned with the protection and exploitation of vision. Employing many different sources, Professor Neis considers how the rabbis engaged varieties of late antique visualities, along with rabbinic narrative, exegetical and legal strategies, as part of an effort to cultivate and mark a 'rabbinic eye'.
Essays that explore the rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), the great compilation of Jewish law edited in the late Sasanian era (sixth–seventh century CE), also incorporates a great deal of aggada, that is, nonlegal material, including interpretations of the Bible, stories, folk sayings, and prayers. The Talmud’s aggadic traditions often echo conversations with the surrounding cultures of the Persians, Eastern Christians, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and the ancient Babylonians, and others. The essays in this volume analyze Bavli aggada to reveal this rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world. Features: A detailed analysis of the different conceptions of martyrdom in the Talmud as opposed to the Eastern Christian martyr accounts Illustration of the complex ways rabbinic Judaism absorbed Christian and Zoroastrian theological ideas Demonstration of the presence of Persian-Zoroastrian royal and mythological motifs in talmudic sources
It is to Greek critical thinking about seeing that we owe our conceptual framework for theorizing the senses, and it is also to such thinking that we owe the lasting legacy of Greco-Roman imagery. Sight and the Ancient Senses is the first thorough introduction to the conceptualization of sight in the history, visual culture, literature and philosophy of classical antiquity. Examining how the Greeks and Romans interpreted what they saw, the collection also considers sight in relation to the other senses. This volume brings together a number of interdisciplinary perspectives to deliver a broad and balanced coverage of this subject. Contributors explore the cultural, social and intellectual backdrops that gave rise to ancient theories of seeing, from Archaic Greece through to the advent of Christianity in late antiquity. This series of specially commissioned thematic chapters demonstrate how theories about sight informed Graeco-Roman philosophy, science, poetry rhetoric and art. The collection also reaches beyond its Graeco-Roman visual framework, showcasing how ancient ideas have influenced the longue durée of western sensory thinking. Richly illustrated throughout, including a section of color plates, Sight and the Ancient Senses is a wide-ranging introduction to ancient theories of seeing which will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars of classical antiquity.
Considering the interrelations between sight, touch, and imagination, this book surveys classical, late antique, and medieval theories of vision to elaborate on how various spheres of the Byzantine world categorized and comprehended sensation and perception. Revisiting scholarly assumptions about the tactility of sight in the Byzantine world, it demonstrates how the haptic language associated with vision referred to the cognitive actions of the viewer as they grasped sensory data in the mind in order to comprehend and produce working imaginations of objects for thought and memory. At stake is how the affordances and limitations of the senses came to delineate and cultivate the manner in which art and rhetoric was understood as mediating the realities they wished to convey. This would similarly come to contour how Byzantine religious culture could also go about accessing the sacred, the image serving as a site of desire for the mediated representation of the Divine.
Through an innovative synthesis of narrative critique, oral-formulaic study, folkloric research, and literary analysis, Kristen H. Lindbeck reads all the Elijah narratives in the Babylonian Talmud and details the rise of a distinct, quasi-angelic figure who takes pleasure in ordinary interaction. During the Talmudic period of 50-500 C.E., Elijah developed into a recognizable character quite different from the Elijah of the Bible. The Elijah of the Talmud dispenses wisdom, advice, and, like the Elijah of Jewish folklore, helps people directly, even with material gifts. Lindbeck highlights particular features of the Elijah stories, allowing them to be grouped into generic categories and considered alongside Rabbinic literary motifs and non-Jewish traditions of late antiquity. She compares Elijah in the Babylonian Talmud to a range of characters angels, rabbis, wonder-workers, the angel of death, Christian saints, and even the Greek god Hermes. She concludes with a survey of Elijah's diverse roles from medieval times to today, throwing into brilliant relief the complex relationship between ancient Elijah traditions and later folktales and liturgy that show Elijah bringing benefits and blessings, appearing at circumcisions and Passover, and visiting households after the Sabbath.
Twenty-four essays by leading scholars review the results of a century of North American archaeological research in the Middle East conducted under the auspices of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The contributors consider each of the major historical archeological periods in the Ancient Near East and discuss cultural issues such as technology, religion, and economic and political realities.
In this pathbreaking study Jeffrey L. Rubenstein reconstructs the cultural milieu of the rabbinic academy that produced the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, which quickly became the authoritative text of rabbinic Judaism and remains so to this day. Unlike the rabbis who had earlier produced the shorter Palestinian Talmud (the Yerushalmi) and who had passed on their teachings to students individually or in small and informal groups, the anonymous redactors of the Bavli were part of a large institution with a distinctive, isolated, and largely undocumented culture. The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud explores the cultural world of these Babylonian rabbis and their students through the prism of the stories they included in the Bavli, showing how their presentation of earlier rabbinic teachings was influenced by their own values and practices. Among the topics explored in this broad-ranging work are the hierarchical structure of the rabbinic academy, the use of dialectics in teaching, the functions of violence and shame within the academy, the role of lineage in rabbinic leadership, the marital and family lives of the rabbis, and the relationship between the rabbis and the rest of the Jewish population. This book provides a unique and new perspective on the formative years of rabbinic Judaism and will be essential reading for all students of the Talmud. -- Michael Satlow, Brown University
Kessler shows how the rabbis of the third through sixth centuries turned to non-Jewish writings on embryology and procreation to explicate the biblical insistence on the primacy of God's role in procreation at the expense of the biological parents.
Most Bible commentaries take us on a one-way trip from our world to the world of the Bible. But they leave us there, assuming we can somehow make the return journey on our own. In other words, they focus on the original meaning of the passage but don’t discuss its contemporary application. The information they offer is valuable -- but the job is only half done! The NIV Application Commentary Series helps us with both halves of the interpretive task. This new and unique series shows readers how to bring an ancient message into a modern context. It explains not only what the Bible meant but also how it can speak powerfully today.