Judaism and Story: The Evidence of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
In this close analysis of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, a sixth-century commentary on the Mishnah-tractate The Fathers (Avot), Jacob Neusner considers the way in which the story, as a distinctive type of narrative, entered the canonical writings of Judaism. The final installment in Neusner's cycle of analyses of the major texts of the Judaic canon, Judaism and Story shows that stories about sages exist in far greater proportion in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan than in any of the other principal writings in the canon of Judaism of late antiquity. Neusner's detailed comparison of The Fathers and The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan demonstrates the transmission and elaboration of these stories and shows how these processes incorporated the newer view of the sage as a supernatural figure and of the eschatological character of Judaic teleology. These distinctions, as Neusner describes them, mark a shift in Jewish orientation to world history.
Judaism and Story documents a chapter of rabbinic tradition that explored the possibility of historical orientation by means of stories. As Neusner demonstrates, this experiment with narrative went beyond the borders of rabbinic preoccupation with rhetorical argumentation focused on the explication of the Torah. The sage story moved in the direction of biography, but without allowing biography to emerge. This development, in Neusner's account, parallels the movement from epistle to Gospel in early Christianity and thus has broad implications for the history of religions.
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The Forms of the Fathers and of The Fathers
The Topical Program of The Fathers and
The SageStory in Particular
The Stories in The Fathers
Its Function in The Fathers According to Rabbi
Judaism and Story
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According to Rabbi amplification appendix Aqiba Bavli beginning blessed canon Citation and gloss cited cogent counterpart death scene deeds despite your wishes disciples discourse distinctive Dual Torah Eleazar Eliezer Eliezer ben Hyrcanus Eliezer's exegesis Fathers According fence follows foregoing Further sayings Gamaliel Genesis Rabbah give Goldin hand Hillel Holy Hyrcanus illustration Ishmael Israel Jerusalem Joshua Judah Judaism king learning logic lord matter Mishnah Moses narrative omen oral Torah parable person proof text proposition Rabban Yohanan Rabbi Nathan religious duty reward rhetoric Sadoq sage-stories sake of Heaven Scripture-stories sequence serve Shammai Simeon Simeon the Righteous statement stories about sages storyteller study the Torah Talmud Tarfon teach tell Temple theme things tion topic Torah study Tosefta traits transgression treated uncleanness verse of Scripture Vespasian VIII Whoever wicked words writings XXIX XXVII XXXIX Yohanan ben Zakkai Yose