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Jewish Concepts of ScriptureA Comparative Introduction$
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Benjamin D. Sommer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740620

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740620.001.0001

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Concepts of Scripture in Rabbinic Judaism

Concepts of Scripture in Rabbinic Judaism

Oral Torah and Written Torah

(p.31) Chapter 3 Concepts of Scripture in Rabbinic Judaism
Jewish Concepts of Scripture

Steven D. Fraade

NYU Press

This chapter discusses how the rabbinic conception of a pedagogical curriculum of written Scripture and oral teaching is without antecedent or parallel in the ancient world. While the idea of a twofold Torah, differentiated as Written and Oral, was not without its opponents and detractors, it became a fundamental part of rabbinic theology and self-understanding. The dialogical pairing of a fixed scriptural text with a fluid oral complement enabled rabbinic society, and eventually broader Jewish society, to survive many vicissitudes of history by striking a delicate balance between cultural permanence and plasticity. The discursive world that these distinctive forms of torah constructed and inhabited, and from which point the surrounding world was increasingly viewed and understood, is a phenomenon yet to be adequately apprehended and appreciated.

Keywords:   Rabbinic Judaism, Torah, Written Torah, Oral Torah, Jewish scripture, Jewish society, cultural permanence, plasticity

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