Cover

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Contents

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p. v

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Introduction

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pp. 1-19

The importance of the Babylonian Talmud in the lives of observant Jews is taken for granted. Yet when considered from certain vantage points, the Talmud’s role as a guide to Jewish life is bewildering. Though construed as a legal reference work, a significant proportion of the Talmud’s content does not pertain to law, ...

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1. The Place of Oral Matters in Geonic Culture

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pp. 20-64

By the eighth century, when the entire Babylonian Talmud was written out— from memory—at the request of Jews living far from the rabbinic academies of Iraq,1 some Jewish communities had come into possession of an oxymoron: an inscribed corpus of oral matters. ...

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2.Oral Matters among Jews of Qayrawan and al-Andalus: Framing Sefarad

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pp. 65-90

While late geonim conceded the necessity of inscribing oral matters, in contravention of a tannaitic prohibition, they saw no reason to disavow the tannaitic dictum stipulating that applied law could only be derived from Talmud once a master attested that the relevant teaching was to be implemented in practice. ...

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3. Framing Ashkenaz: Cultural Landmarks of Medieval Northern European Societies

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pp. 91-120

It has been fashionable in Jewish historiography to account for the subcultures of Sefarad and Ashkenaz in genealogical terms: Sefarad has been portrayed as the cultural heir of Babylonia, and Ashkenaz as the cultural heir of ancient Palestine.1 ...

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4. Textualization of North European Rabbinic Culture: The Changing Role of Talmud

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pp. 121-154

European Jewry’s shift from an ‘‘oral’’ culture to a ‘‘written’’ one in the Middle Ages has not gone unnoticed.1 Observing that Jewish works composed in late antiquity became available at this time ‘‘with disconcerting suddenness—on this side, as it were, of a great manuscript divide,’’2 historians of Hebrew codicology ....

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5. Medieval Responses to the Textualization of Rabbinic Culture

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pp. 155-181

By the twelfth century, northern European Jewish communities had come to determine applied Jewish law solely with reference to the Talmud. This approach differed considerably from that of the Babylonian geonim, who understood living tradition to be a necessary complement to the teachings preserved in Talmud. ...

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6. Rhineland Pietism and the Textualization of Rabbinic Culture in Medieval Northern Europe

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pp. 182-217

The chronological proximity of disparate cultural developments in medieval Jewish history has attracted a fair amount of scholarly attention, some of it quite productive.1 The present chapter attempts to account for the simultaneous emergence of Tosafism and Rhineland Pietism in northern European Jewish communities ....

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Epilogue

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pp. 218-224

Little is currently known about why the amoraim generated, and preserved, the traditions found in the Babylonian Talmud. What is clear is that Jews who lived in the centuries following the last of the Talmud’s named tradents focused on the legal traditions of this orally transmitted corpus and, over time, ‘‘transposed’’ them ...

Glossary

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pp. 225-228

Abbreviations

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pp. 229-230

Notes

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pp. 231-348

Bibliography

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pp. 349-388

Index

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pp. 389-410

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 411-413

The University of Pennsylvania has proven a wonderful academic environment in which to complete this work. My thinking has been enriched by conversations with my students at Penn, undergraduates as well as graduates. Colleagues in the Department of Religious Studies and in the Seminar on the History of the Book have contributed to my reading and thinking; ...