The Aggada of the Bavli and Its Cultural World

Herman, Geoffrey & Jeffrey L. Rubenstein (eds.). 2018. The Aggada of the Bavli and its cultural world (Brown Judaic Studies 362). Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies.

 

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
I. The Mesopotamian Context
  • Sara Ronis: A Demonic Servant in Rav Papa’s Household: Demons as Subjects in the Mesopotamian Talmud
  • Reuven Kiperwasser: Narrative Bricolage and Cultural Hybrids in Rabbinic Babylonia: On the Narratives of Seduction and the Topos of Light
  • Yakir Paz: “Meishan Is Dead”: On the Historical Contexts
  • of the Bavli’s Representations of the Jews in Southern Babylonia
II. The Sasanian Context
  • Geoffrey Herman: “In Honor of the House of Caesar”: Attitudes to the Kingdom in the Aggada of the Babylonian Talmud and Other Sasanian Sources
  • Jason Mokhtarian: Clusters of Iranian Loanwords in Talmudic Folkore: The Chapter of the Pious (b. Ta‘anit 18b-26a) in Ιts Sasanian Context
  • Shai Secunda: Gaze and Counter-Gaze: Textuality and Contextuality
  • in the Anecdote of Rav Assi and the Roman (b. Baba Meṣiʿa 28b)
III. The Syriac and Christian Context
  • Jeffrey L. Rubenstein: Martyrdom in the Persian Martyr Acts and in the Babylonian Talmud
  • Simcha Gross: A Persian Anti-Martyr Act: The Death of Rabba bar Naḥmani in Light of the Syriac Persian Martyr Acts
  • Michal Bar-Asher Siegal: “Fool, Look to the End of the Verse”: b. Ḥullin 87a and Its Christian Background
IV. The Zoroastrian Context
  • Yaakov Elman: Dualistic Elements in Babylonian Aggada
  • Yishai Kiel: First Man, First Bovine: Talmudic Mythology in Context
  • David Brodsky: Mourner’s Kaddish, The Prequel: The Sassanian Period Backstory That Gave Birth to the Medieval Prayer for the Dead