Heresy and the Formation of the Rabbinic Community 978-3-16-155334-9 - Mohr Siebeck
Jewish Studies

David M. Grossberg

Heresy and the Formation of the Rabbinic Community

[Häresie und die Entstehung der rabbinischen Gemeinde.]

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Between the first and sixth centuries C.E., a community of rabbis systematized their ideas about Judaism in works such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. David M. Grossberg reexamines this community's gradual formation as reflected in polemical texts. He contends that these texts' primary aim was not to describe real rabbinic opponents but to create and enforce boundaries between rabbis and others and within the developing rabbinic movement.
Between the first and sixth centuries C.E., a group of sages that scholars refer to as the rabbinic community systematized their ideas about Judaism in works such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. David M. Grossberg offers a new approach to thinking about this community's formation. Rather than seeking an occasion of origin, he examines the gradual development of the idea of an authorized rabbinic collective. The classical rabbinic texts imagine a diverse setting of Sadducees, Pharisees, sinners, and sectarians interacting in complex and changing ways with pious sages, teachers, and judges. Yet this representation aligns only vaguely with the social reality in which these ancient sages actually lived and operated. The author contends that these texts' primary aim was not to describe real rabbinic opponents but to create and enforce boundaries between piety and impiety and between legitimate and illegitimate teachings. In this way, the emerging rabbinic movement set standards of inclusion and exclusion in the community of righteous Israel and established the bounds of the community aspiring to lead them, the rabbinic community itself.
Authors/Editors

David M. Grossberg Born 1965; PhD from Princeton University; currently Visiting Scholar, Cornell University, Ithaca.

Reviews

The following reviews are known:

In: Recherches de Science Religieuse — 105 (2018), S. 134–137 (André Paul)
In: AJS Review — 42 (2018), S. 451–453 (Jonathan Klawans)
In: Revue des Etudes Juives — 177 (2018), S. 444–447 (José Costa)
In: Reviews of the Enoch Seminar — http://enochseminar.org/review/15183 (11/2018) (Andrew Higginbotham)