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Compositional complexity in the Palestinian Talmud, Aggadah tractate Berakhot

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Title: Compositional complexity in the Palestinian Talmud, Aggadah tractate Berakhot
Author: Ames, Tracy
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Religious Studies
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-12-05
Abstract: The goal of this thesis is to contribute to the scholarship investigating the Aggadah in the Palestinian Talmud. This study confirms the presence of carefully constructed and deliberately redacted portions of the Palestinian Talmud within the first chapter of tractate Berakhot (Blessings). Contrary to claims that the Palestinian Talmud has a very thin redactional layer, this dissertation argues that earlier traditions were subjected to an active interventionist editorial process by the Amoraic composers/redactors. The results of this study are that creative composition and a high degree of literary sophistication can be ascertained within the Amoraic layers of the Palestinian Talmud in the portions of tractate Berakhot that I analyze. The complexity of aggadot within the first chapter of tractate Berakhot is confirmed with the application of literary and genre based analysis which reveals that literary constructs widespread throughout the Greco-Roman world were adapted by the composers/redactors of the Palestinian Talmud. The Greco-Roman literary constructs that are employed in these narratives serve to thematize efforts by sages to establish rabbinic prayer practices—and establish their own leadership— in the aftermath of the vacuum left by the destruction of the Second Temple. Furthermore, contextual/historical analysis indicates that these aggadot reveal a nuanced and varied set of responses to the Roman Empire, demonstrating that these narratives were produced by a highly sophisticated compositional and editorial hand. Redactional analysis highlights the extent to which reinterpretations of earlier Tannaitic and biblical material were utilized by composers/redactors to assert their theological and ideological views in a way similar to that which is usually ascribed to the Stammaitic editors of the Babylonian Talmud.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43656
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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