Socrates and the Fat Rabbis
What kind of literature is the Talmud? To answer this question, Daniel Boyarin looks to an unlikely source: the dialogues of Plato. In these ancient texts he finds similarities, both in their combination of various genres and topics and in their dialogic structure. But Boyarin goes beyond these structural similarities, arguing also for a cultural relationship. In Socrates and the Fat Rabbis, Boyarin suggests that both the Platonic and the talmudic dialogues are not dialogic at all. Using Michael Bakhtin’s notion of represented dialogue and real dialogism, Boyarin demonstrates, through multiple close readings, that the give-and-take in these texts is actually much closer to a monologue in spirit. At the same time, he shows that there is a dialogism in both texts on a deeper structural level between a voice of philosophical or religious dead seriousness and a voice from within that mocks that very high solemnity at the same time. Boyarin ultimately singles out Menippean satire as the most important genre through which to understand both the Talmud and Plato, emphasizing their seriocomic peculiarity. An innovative advancement in rabbinic studies, as well as a bold and controversial new way of reading Plato, Socrates and the Fat Rabbis makes a major contribution to scholarship on thought and culture of the ancient Mediterranean.
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Agathon aggada Alcibiades Ancient answer apostates argue argument Aristophanes Aspasia Athenian Athens Babylonian Talmud Bavli beautiful Callicles Cambridge University Press cited claim Classical comic context course cultural democracy dialectic dialegesthai Dialogic Imagination Diotima discourse discussion Dostoevsky’s Poetics epistemology eros erotic Genres in Dialogue Gorgias Gorgias’s Greek grotesque halakha Hasan-Rokem Helen human intellectual interpretation Jewish language legends literary literature logos Lucian Lucian of Samosata means Meir’s Menexenus Menippean satire Michael Holquist Mikhail Bakhtin Mishna monological narrative Nightingale novel one’s oral Torah Parmenides parody Pericles philosophy Plato Platonic dialogue polis political Polus practice precisely Problems of Dostoevsky’s Protagoras Protagoras’s question Rabba Rabbi Meir Rabbi Yoh.anan reading Relihan Resh Lakish rhetoric satyr play Schiappa scholars seems sense serious sexual Socrates Sophists speech spoudaios stamma story Studies suggest sugya Symposium things Thucydides tion Torah tradition tragedy trans translation truth voice Wimpfheimer words writes