The Dangerous Duty of Rebuke: Leviticus 19:17 in Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation


In The Dangerous Duty of Rebuke Matthew Goldstone explores the ways in which religious leaders within early Jewish and Christian communities conceived of the obligation to rebuke their fellows based upon the biblical verse: “Rebuke your fellow but do not incur sin” (Leviticus 19:17). Analyzing texts from the Bible through the Talmud and late Midrashim as well as early Christian monastic writings, he exposes a shift from asking how to rebuke in the Second Temple and early Christian period, to whether one can rebuke in early rabbinic texts, to whether one should rebuke in later rabbinic and monastic sources. Mapping these observations onto shifting sociological concerns, this work offers a new perspective on the nature of interpersonal responsibility in antiquity.

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Matthew Goldstone, Ph.D. (2017), published articles in Journal of Biblical Literature, Jewish Studies Quarterly, Novum Testamentum, and Journal for the Study of the New Testament, and co-authored Binding Fragments of Tractate Temurah and the Problem of Lishana Aḥarina (Brill, forthcoming).


Part 1: How to Rebuke? Leviticus 19:17 in Context

1 The Moral and the Judicial Dimensions of Rebuke in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Gospels
2 Boundaries of Love: Reading Lev. 19:17 in Light of Lev. 19:18
3 Slanderous Speech: Reading Lev. 19:17 in Light of Lev. 19:16

Part 2: Can One Rebuke? Rebuke in the Tannaitic Midrashim

4 An Impossible Task: Rebuke in Sifra
5 A Perilous Practice: Rebuke in Sifre Devarim

Part 3: Should One Rebuke? Rebuke in Later Rabbinic and Monastic Literature

6 An Undesirable Activity: Rebuke in Early Monastic Literature
7 An Unwelcome Commandment: Rebuke in the Babylonian Talmud
8 An Inescapable Obligation: Rebuke in Tanḥuma-Yelammedenu Literature



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