Departmental Papers (Religious Studies)

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Book Chapter

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Rabbinic Law in Its Roman and Near Eastern Context

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In this paper I look at one particular exegetical complex through which, I will argue, the rabbis grapple with the question of legal jurisdiction and the status of revelation in the shadow of Roman legal hegemony. I will try to show that rabbinic midrash in its literariness (that is, as a source for the history of ideas, rather than a repository of more or less viable data for reporting history on the ground) is a valuable site for mining the mentalité of tannaitic culture (to the extent that we can posit such a thing), and specifically of tannaitic constructions of the idea of the law from the perspective of the subaltern.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This text was originally published by Mohr Siebeck in Rabbinic Law in Its Roman and Near Eastern Context in 2015. Full book available at



Date Posted: 08 September 2017