Banning Greek: A Rabbinic History

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
Author: Amram Tropper1
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  • 1 Department of Jewish History, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel
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A handful of rabbinic texts famously oppose things Greek but the force, object, scope, rationale, and alleged origins of the opposition vary from text to text. Although these texts often clash with one another, they also share kindred ideas and rare wording. Making sense of the sources’ similarities and differences poses the central challenge in tracing the history of the rabbinic opposition to Greek. If we harmonize sources, we risk minimizing their differences and if we isolate sources, we risk sidelining their similarities. In light of the drawbacks of the harmonizing and isolating approaches, I hope to decipher the relationship between the sources, acknowledging both similarities and differences, by viewing them developmentally. Once we recognize that rabbinic texts opposed to Greek belong to a shared literary trajectory, their similarities attest to a common literary tradition while their differences embody modifications and additions introduced over the course of time.

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