Literary construction in the Babylonian Talmud: a case-study from Perek Helek

Jacobi, Margaret Sarah (2014). Literary construction in the Babylonian Talmud: a case-study from Perek Helek. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Perek Helek, the last chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin in the Babylonian Talmud (BT), is unusual in consisting almost entirely of aggadah (non-legal material). The present study is a source and literary analysis of six units (\(sugyot\)) from the chapter, which are almost continuous over ten pages of Talmud.

The \(sugyot\) relate to specific groups and individuals who, according to the Mishnah, are denied a place in the World to Come. They cover subjects in the books of Genesis, Numbers and Samuel.

Comparisons with the Tosefta, Palestinian Talmud and midrashim suggest that the BT is less concerned with the World to Come than Palestinian sources are. Rather, it focuses on the wrong-doing of the groups and individuals and issues of justice and authority. The BT also includes vivid stories which appear to be Babylonian in origin and are often self-mocking.

My findings also suggest that the \(sugyot\) based on passages in a given biblical book (Genesis or Numbers) have more elements in common than \(sugyot\) based on the same mishnah but derived from a different biblical book. In conclusion I discuss the possible implications of my findings for the more general question of how the chapter was edited.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History


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