Talmudic Transgressions

Engaging the Work of Daniel Boyarin


Talmudic Transgressions is a collection of essays on rabbinic literature and related fields in response to the boundary-pushing scholarship of Daniel Boyarin. This work is an attempt to transgress boundaries in various ways, since boundaries differentiate social identities, literary genres, legal practices, or diasporas and homelands. These essays locate the transgressive not outside the classical traditions but in these traditions themselves, having learned from Boyarin that it is often within the tradition and in its terms that we can find challenges to accepted notions of knowledge, text, and ethnic or gender identity. The sections of this volume attempt to mirror this diverse set of topics.

Contributors include Julia Watts Belser, Jonathan Boyarin, Shamma Boyarin, Virginia Burrus, Sergey Dolgopolski, Charlotte E. Fonrobert, Simon Goldhill, Erich S. Gruen, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Christine Hayes, Adi Ophir, James Redfield, Elchanan Reiner, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Lena Salaymeh, Zvi Septimus, Aharon Shemesh, Dina Stein, Eliyahu Stern, Moulie Vidas, Barry Scott Wimpfheimer, Elliot R. Wolfson, Azzan Yadin-Israel, Israel Yuval, and Froma Zeitlin.

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Moulie Vidas, Ph.D. (2009), is assistant professor of Religion at Princeton University. His publications include Tradition and the Formation of the Talmud (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Ph.D. (2004), is professor of Talmud at Tel-Aviv University. His publications include Demonic Desires: Yetzer Hara and the problem of Evil in Late Antiquity (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Aharon Shemesh, Ph.D. (1994), is professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. He has published widely on the development of Jewish law in antiquity, including the book Halakhah in the Making: The Development of Jewish Law from Qumran to the Rabbis (University of California Press, 2009).

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Ph.D. (1995), is associate professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University. Her publications include Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender (Stanford University Press, 2000).

From the Editors

A Personal Tribute
Froma Zeitlin

From Intertextuality to Iyyun

Authorial Intent: Human and Divine
Azzan Yadin-Israel

A Place of Torah
Moulie Vidas

Tosafot Gornish Post-Kant: The Talmud as Political Thought
Sergey Dolgopolski

Shattering the Nomos

Did the Rabbis Consider Nazirhood an Ascetic Practice?
Aharon Shemesh

"The Torah was not Given to Ministering Angels": Rabbinic Aspirationalism
Christine Hayes

Footnotes to Carnal Israel: Infertility and the Legal Subject
Barry Scott Wimpfheimer

Temporalities of Marriage: Jewish and Islamic Legal Debates
Lena Salaymeh and Zvi Septimus

Carnal Israels

Myth, History and Eschatology in a Rabbinic Treatise on Birth
Galit Hasan-Rokem and Israel Yuval

Rabbinic Trickster Tales: The Sex and Gender Politics of the Bavli's Sinful Sages
Julia Watts Belser

Phallic Jewissance and the Pleasure of No Pleasure 339
Elliot R. Wolfson

"Changing the Order of Creation":The Toldot Ben Sira Disrupts the Medieval Hebrew Canon
Shamma Boyarin

Ethnicity and Radical Jews

Paul and Jewish Ethnicity
Erich S. Gruen

Paul and the Universal Goyim: "A Radical Jew" Revisited
Ishay Rosen-Zvi and Adi Ophir

Kinship and Qiddushin: Genealogy and Geography in b. Qiddushin IV
Jonathan Boyarin

Paul in the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Samuel Joseph Fuenn's Paths of God
Eliyahu Stern

Fat Rabbis & Friends

Revisiting the Fat Rabbis
Zvi Septimus

Socrates, the Rabbis and the Virgin: The Dialogic Imagination in Late Antiquity
Virginia Burrus

What would Martin Luther Say to Daniel Boyarin?
Simon Goldhill

Homeland and/as Diaspora

The Battle of Qedesh on the Plain of Ḥatsor: On the Hasmonean Roots of the Galilean Foundational Myth
Elchanan Reiner

As the Gates of Jerusalem, so the Gates of Maḥuza: Defining Place in Diaspora
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert

Following Goats: Text, Place and Diaspora(s)
Dina Stein


Crossing Border Lines: Daniel Boyarin's Life/Work
James A. Redfield
All interested in rabbinic literature, cultural and literary history of the ancient world, and Jewish Studies.
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