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Departmental Papers (Religious Studies)

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Can “Law” Be Private? The Mixed Message Of Rabbinic Oral Law, Natalie B. Dohrmann Jan 2015

Can “Law” Be Private? The Mixed Message Of Rabbinic Oral Law, Natalie B. Dohrmann

Departmental Papers (Religious Studies)

A great deal of ink has been spilled on the question of early rabbinic literary culture and the rabbinic dedication to the development of an explicitly oral legal tradition. In this essay I will argue that given that the manifest content of early rabbinic discourse is law, it is productive to look to the very public practices of communication inscribed, literally and figuratively, in the Roman legal culture of the east. Within this context, the rabbinic legal project makes sense as a form of provincial shadowing of a dominant Roman legal culture. This paper will explore the paradoxical rabbinic deployment ...