The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis

Front Cover
University of Pennsylvania Press, Jan 9, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 248 pages
0 Reviews

When the rabbis composed the Mishnah in the late second or early third century C.E., the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed for more then a century. Why, then, do the Temple and its ritual feature so prominently in the Mishnah? Against the view that the rabbis were reacting directly to the destruction and asserting that nothing had changed, Naftali S. Cohn argues that the memory of the Temple served a political function for the rabbis in their own time. They described the Temple and its ritual in a unique way that helped to establish their authority within the context of Roman dominance.

At the time the Mishnah was created, the rabbis were not the only ones talking extensively about the Temple: other Judaeans (including followers of Jesus), Christians, and even Roman emperors produced texts and other cultural artifacts centered on the Jerusalem Temple. Looking back at the procedures of Temple ritual, the rabbis created in the Mishnah a past and a Temple in their own image, which lent legitimacy to their claim to be the only authentic purveyors of Jewish tradition and the traditional Jewish way of life. Seizing on the Temple, they sought to establish and consolidate their own position of importance within the complex social and religious landscape of Jewish society in Roman Palestine.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Narration of Temple Ritual as Rabbinic Memory in the Late Second or Early Third Century
Rabbis as Jurists of Judaean Ritual Law and Competing Claims for Authority
The Temple the Great Court and the Rabbinic Invention of the Past
Narrative form and Rabbinic Authority
Constructing Sacred Space
The Mishnah in the Context of a Wider Judaean Christian and Roman Temple Discourse
The Memory of the Temple and the Making of the Rabbis
The Mishnahs Temple Ritual Narratives and CourtCentered Ritual Narratives
Mishnaic Narratives in Which a Rabbi or Rabbis Issue an Opinion with Respect to a Case

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)

Naftali S. Cohn teaches religion at Concordia University in Montreal.

Bibliographic information