Halakhah in Light of Epigraphy

Book Details

Author 
Publisher  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Publication Date   January 3, 2011
ISBN  3525550170
Pages  304

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Description

This volume contains the proceedings of the conference entitled Halakhah in Light of Epigraphy held on 29 May, 2008 under the auspices of the David and Jemima Jeselsohn Center for Epigraphy at Bar-Ilan University. Epigraphic finds, here interpreted broadly to include papyri, scrolls, and the like, have immeasurably enriched our knowledge of the ancient Jewish past while at the same time posing a challenge to modern scholarship: how does one integrate old knowledge, based on previously known sources, with new information? We now recognize that Rabbinic texts are normative: they tell us how their authors believed life should be lived, rather than the details of ordinary, everyday, experience. What weight, then, should be given to traditional halakhic texts in evaluating the contents of newly discovered written remains? And what light can be shed by these new finds, especially those inscriptions and documents that record small moments of ancient Jewish life, upon the long-familiar normative texts? The conference on Halakhah in Light of Epigraphy was intended to generate discussion on these broad issues, as well as to provide a forum for exploration of specific matters of Halakhah reflected in the epigraphic sources. The papers in this volume tend to emphasize the centrality of Halakhah in ancient Judaism. The first section of the volume is devoted to Halakhah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, with contributions by Moshe Benovitz, Vered Noam, Eyal Regev, Lawrence Schiffman, and Aharon Shemesh. These papers examine diversity in halakhic positions, in terms of both exegesis and practice (e.g., festival rituals, dietary laws, and sexual relationships), exploring evidence of halakhic development over the course of the Second Temple period, and halakhic variety among different groups. The second section relates to quotidian documents, and contains Hanan Eshel's survey of the legal documents found in the refuge caves; Steven Fraade's examination of the parnas; Shamma Friedman's analysis of the Jewish bill of divorce; and David Goodblatt's discussion of dating formulae. The final section of the volume examines a variety of epigraphic sources, and includes the following articles: Yonatan Adler on tefillin; Chaim Ben David on synagogue inscriptions; Tal Ilan on burial practices; Ze'ev Safrai and Hannah Safrai on an early Christian text; and Guy Stiebel on food at Masada.

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