Judaism and Story

The Evidence of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan

Jacob Neusner

Judaism and Story
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Jacob Neusner

264 pages | 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1992
Cloth $87.50 ISBN: 9780226576305 Published September 1992
In this close analysis of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, a sixth-century commentary on the Mishnah-tractate The Fathers (Avot), Jacob Neusner considers the way in which the story, as a distinctive type of narrative, entered the canonical writings of Judaism. The final installment in Neusner's cycle of analyses of the major texts of the Judaic canon, Judaism and Story shows that stories about sages exist in far greater proportion in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan than in any of the other principal writings in the canon of Judaism of late antiquity. Neusner's detailed comparison of The Fathers and The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan demonstrates the transmission and elaboration of these stories and shows how these processes incorporated the newer view of the sage as a supernatural figure and of the eschatological character of Judaic teleology. These distinctions, as Neusner describes them, mark a shift in Jewish orientation to world history.

Judaism and Story documents a chapter of rabbinic tradition that explored the possibility of historical orientation by means of stories. As Neusner demonstrates, this experiment with narrative went beyond the borders of rabbinic preoccupation with rhetorical argumentation focused on the explication of the Torah. The sage story moved in the direction of biography, but without allowing biography to emerge. This development, in Neusner's account, parallels the movement from epistle to Gospel in early Christianity and thus has broad implications for the history of religions.
Contents
Preface
Introduction: From Aphorism to Story and from Epistle to Gospel in Judaism and Christianity
From Aphorism to Story
From Epistle to Gospel
Narrative as a Medium for Making a Religious Statement
The Sage-Story and the Advent of the Sage
Part One - Rhetoric and Topic: The Comparison of Literary and Programmatic Traits
1. The Structure of The Fathers and of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
From Aphorism to Story: The Transformation of The Fathers
The Principles of Composition: Comparison and Contrast
Comparing The Fathers to The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
Comparing The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan XXIV-XXX to The Fathers
One Program of Composition: The Shared Structure of The Fathers and The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
2. The Matter of Rhetoric: The Forms of the Fathers and of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
Consensual Authorship and Formalized Rhetoric
What We Learn from Analyzing Rhetorical Form
The Forms of The Fathers
The Forms of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
The Forms of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan Compared to The Forms of The Fathers
Comparison and Contrast in the Literary Programs of the Two Documents
3. The Matter of Topic: The Topical Program of The Fathers and of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
From Style to Substance
Points in Common, Points of Difference
Comparison and Contrast in the Topical Programs of the Two Documents
Where The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan Differs from The Fathers
The Advent of the Holy Sage and of Episodes in the Lives of the Saints
The Sage, the Story, and the Advent of History
Part Two - Logic and Proposition: Narratives in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
4. The Matter of Logic and Proposition: The Burden of Narrative in the Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
The Three Logics of Intelligible Discourse and the Importance of Narrative
Narrative as Mode of Thought, Medium, and Message
An Inductive Taxonomy of Narrative in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
An Inductive Taxonomy of the Story in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
Scripture-Stories Concerning the Creation
Scripture-Stories Concerning Moses and Israel
Indicative Traits of the Scripture-Story
5. The Sage-Story in Particular
From Aphorism to Story
The Scripture-Story and the Sage-Story: Differences in Narrative Convention
The Repertoire of Sage-Stories
The Propositions of Sage-Stories
Names Not Celebrated, Stories Not Told
Part Three - Comparisons and Contrasts: The Story in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan in Canonical Context
6. These Stories in Particular: The Stories in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan in Comparison to Their Use in Other Compositions
The Canonical Context
Stories That Matter
Old or New?
If New, Then What Changes?
If Old, Then How Different?
The Contribution of the Story: Why Was This Medium Chosen for This Particular Message?
The Documentary Perspective on the Advent of the Story
7. The Story in General: Its Function in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan and in Other Compositions
Contradiction and Conundrum
What Is at Stake?
Differentiating the Varied Uses of the Story in Diverse Documents of the Dual Torah
The Singular Stories Revisited: The New and the Old
The Story in General
8. Judaism and Story
Appendices
1. The Sayings of the Fathers
2. Appendix to Chapter One: Comparing The Fathers to The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
3. The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan Chapters XXIV-XXX Compared to The Fathers
4. The Repertoire of Formal Rhetoric of The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
5. Topics Treated in The Fathers and Not in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan
6. Topics Treated in The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan and Not in The Fathers
7. Life, Death, and Torah Study
Abbreviations
Index of Biblical and Talmudic References
General Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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