Deviancy in Early Rabbinic Literature

A Collection of Socio-Anthropological Essays


Deviancy in Early Rabbinic Literature deals with the status of those groups and individuals who, for various reasons, appear to have no place in mainstream Rabbinic Jewish society, or may be perceived by that society as posing a threat to its norms and to its very existence.
The book examines the thoughts and attitudes of the Rabbis set forth in various sections of the Mishnah, Tosefta and Talmud. Deviant groups studied include witches, prostitutes, Gentiles, bastards, Nazirites, soldiers, Kutites, the disabled and the menstruous woman. Social anthropological methodologies are used to provide a unique perspective on the implicit message of the redactors of these Rabbinic texts, and to make these important texts equally accessible to both scholars and laymen interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of these important issues.

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Simcha Fishbane, Ph.D. (1988) in Social Anthropology of Religion at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, is Executive Assistant to the President of Touro College and Professor of Jewish Studies. He has published extensively on Jewish texts and their meaning. His publications include The Method and Meaning of the Mishnah Berurah (1991).
Chapter 1. Introduction by Professor Nissan Rubin
Chapter 2. The Case of the Modified Mamzer in Early Rabbinic Texts
Chapter 3. “As the Vows of the Evil Folk”: The Structure and Implicit Message of Mishnah’s Tractate Nazir
Chapter 4. “In the Case of Women-Any Hand Which Makes Many Examinations is to be Praised”: Niddah as Viewed by the Rabbis of the Mishnah
Chapter 5. “Most Women Engage in Sorcery”: An Analysis of Female Sorceresses in the Babylonian Talmud
Chapter 6. “Go and Enjoy Your Acquisition”: The Prostitute in the Babylonian Talmud
Chapter 7. “Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil”: The Physically Handicapped in the Mishnah
Chapter 8. Toward an Understanding of the Methodology of Mishnah: The Case of Kutim
Chapter 9. Descriptive or Prescriptive: The Case of the Gentile in Mishnah
Chapter 10. Deviancy in Battle: Rituals and the Israelite Soldier in the Torah and the Mishnah: An Anthropological Understanding
Chapter 11. “Every Dream Becomes Valid Only By Its Interpretation”: Dreams, Dream Interpretations and Dream Interpreters in the Babylonian Talmud
All those interested in intellectual history, the history of Late Antiquity, the history of rabbinism, the history deviant psychology, sociology and anthropology of religion, and scholars of Mishnah and Talmud.