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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity: Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud
 1107195365, 9781107195363

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JEWISH-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUES ON SCRIPTURE IN LATE ANTIQUITY

Stories portraying heretics (minim) in rabbinic literature are a central site of rabbinic engagement with the “other.” These stories typically involve a conflict over the interpretation of a biblical verse in which the rabbinic figure emerges victorious in the face of a challenge presented by the heretic. In this book, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal focuses on heretic narratives of the Babylonian Talmud that share a common literary structure, strong polemical language and the formula, “Fool, look to the end of the verse.” She marshals previously untapped Christian materials to arrive at new interpretations of familiar texts and illuminate the complex relationship between Jews and Christians in late antiquity. Bar-Asher Siegal argues that these Talmudic literary creations must be seen as part of a boundary-creating discourse that clearly distinguishes the rabbinic position from that of contemporaneous Christians and adds to a growing understanding of the rabbinic authors’ familiarity with Christian traditions. MICHAL BAR-ASHER SIEGAL is a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and an elected member of the Israel Young Academy of Sciences. Her first book, Early Christian Monastic Literature and the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2013) received the 2014 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award. She is also the co-editor of numerous volumes: The Faces of Torah: Studies in the Texts and Contexts of Ancient Judaism in Honor of Steven Fraade and Perceiving the Other in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud MICHAL BAR-ASHER SIEGAL Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

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University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06-04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107195363 DOI: 10.1017/9781108164023 © Michal Bar-Asher Siegal 2019 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2019 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A. A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-1-107-19536-3 Hardback ISBN 978-1-316-64681-6 Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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CONTENTS

Acknowledgments 1

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Minim Stories in the Talmud: Introductory Discussion

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“A Fool You Call Me?”: On Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity

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“He Who Forms the Mountains and Creates the Wind”: Amos 4:13 and the Jewish-Christian Argument in b. Ḥullin 87a

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“Rejoice, O Barren One Who Bore No Child”: Isaiah 54:1 and the Jewish-Christian Argument in b. Berakhot 10a

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“The Best of Them is Like a Brier”: Micah 7:4 and the Jewish-Christian Argument in b. ‘Eruvin 101a

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“He has Drawn off from Them”: Hosea 5:6 and the Jewish-Christian Argument in b. Yevamot 102b

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Reflections

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Bibliography Index of Primary Sources Subject Index

195 219 224

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book is a continuation of my earlier work on Jewish-Christian relations as they are revealed in the Babylonian Talmud. This time, I look at stories involving dialogues on biblical verses between rabbinic figures and minim. The research on this book started in a different kind of scholarly dialogue, on the min story in b. Berakhot 10a, between myself and my then newly acquired husband, Elitzur, twenty years ago. When we finally wrote down our findings (while watching over our newly born baby Yahav!), in an article published in the 2017 Festschrift to my mentor Steven Fraade (parts of Chapter 4 of this book), I decided to turn this first article into a full-fledged research project of its own, the result of which is this book. As our personal and academic lives are fruitfully intertwined, I continue to be blessed by the constant dialogue with my ḥavruta at home. I do not take this for granted and am always grateful for it. My sabbatical year as the Horace W. Goldsmith Visiting Associate Professor in Judaic Studies, at Yale University in 2017–18, was crucial to my writing process and I am deeply grateful to all the wonderful colleagues in the Judaic Studies program and at the Yale Divinity School who helped me think through much of what you will find in the following chapters. I am also indebted to the numerous academic institutions that invited me, in the last few years, to present my findings in various departments, seminars and public lectures, and to the helpful comments from the audience members. I also wish to thank my wonderful students at both Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Yale, with whom I discussed some of my findings. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 1199/ 17: “The Church Fathers and the Babylonian Talmud: Heretics Stories as a Reflection of Inter-Religious Dialogue”). Additional financial support for the project was provided by the ISF Zahava and Zvi Friedenberg award of Excellence.

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Acknowledgments

Earlier versions of parts of this book were published as articles in: Matthew Thiessen, Wolfgang Gruenstaeudl and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (eds), Perceiving the Other in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017), 131–146; Revue de l’Histoire des Religions 234 (2017), 5–23; Christine Hayes, Tzvi Novick and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (eds), The Faces of Torah: Studies in the Texts and Contexts of Ancient Judaism in Honor of Steven Fraade (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017), 199–220; Jewish Studies Quarterly 25 (2018), 1–18; Geoffrey Herman and Jeffrey L. Rubenstein (eds), The Aggada of the Bavli and its Cultural World (Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 2018), 243–270; Early Christianity 9 (2018), 404–431. I am thankful for these journals’ and volumes’ permission to use the materials, now reworked and extended, in this book. A special thank you to Albert Baumgarten and Richard Hidary who read the book manuscript and offered extremely valuable feedback and suggestions, as well as camaraderie and friendship. And to Holger Zellentin for his valuable help with the introduction. And to Chris Hayes who gives way too much ice cream to my boys, but can always be trusted to offer some of the best suggestions to improve the way I think about rabbinic texts. And to Steven and Ellen Fraade for their love and support. I am grateful to the following generous and wise scholars with whom I discussed parts of this book: Aaron Amit, Gary Anderson, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Katell Berthelot, Chip Coakley, Adela Collins, Michal Beth Dinkler, Maria Doerfler, Jean-Daniel Dubois, Nathan Eubank, Emanuel Fiano, Jörg Frey, Isaiah Gafni, Gregg Gardner, Simcha Gross, Matthias Henze, Geoffrey Herman, Martha Himmelfarb, Richard Kalmin, Daniel King, Moshe Lavee, Judith Lieu, Yii-Jan Lin, David Lincicum, Andrew McGowan, Naphtali Meshel, Jonathan Milgram, Sergey Minov, Laura Nasrallah, Hillel Newman, Tobias Nicklas, Vered Noam, Tzvi Novick, Michael Peppard, Jeffrey Rubenstein, Michael Satlow, Konrad Schmid, Jens Schröter, Moshe Shoshan, Gal Sofer, Matthew Thiessen, Moulie Vidas, Daniel Weiss, Haim Weiss, Larry Welborn, Lawrence Wills and Ben Wright. I want to thank Asher Benjamin for his constant help with everything BGU, and no less for his friendship. I also thank my student Amitai Glass for his assistance, the talented Adam Parker and Atara Snowbell for their English editing, and Adam for the index. I thank my editor at Cambridge University Press Beatrice Rehl and Editorial Assistant Eilidh Burrett and Senior Content Manager

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Acknowledgments

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Mary Bongiovi as well as Helen Flitton, Project Manager, Newgen Publishing UK, for their dedication and hard work. To my Abba, Bruno Siegal: Your unconditional love makes everything better. And to my Imma, Annette, who actually read the entirety of my first book! I conclude this with gratitude to my boys, Nattaf, Yadid and Yahav for the pure joy they bring into my life. I love that they have reached the age where I can share my research with them and hear their insightful and unfiltered view of the stories left to us by our ancestors, and look forward to many more blissful future conversations.

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1 MINIM STORIES IN THE TALMUD: INTRODUCTORY DISCUSSION

It may indeed be undignified to give any answer at all to the statements that are foolish; we seem to be pointed that way by Solomon’s wise advice, “not to answer a fool according to his folly.” But there is a danger lest through our silence error may prevail over the truth, and so the rotting sore of this heresy may invade it, and make havoc of the sound word of the faith. It has appeared to me, therefore, to be imperative to answer, not indeed according to the folly of these men who offer objections of such a description to our Religion, but for the correction of their depraved ideas. For that advice quoted above from the Proverbs gives, I think, the watchword not for silence, but for the correction of those who are displaying some act of folly; our answers, that is, are not to run on the level of their foolish conceptions, but rather to overturn those unthinking and deluded views as to doctrine.1 (Gregory of Nyssa)

1 Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Spirit, MPG 45, 1301–1333 (and “De Spiritu Sancto, Adversus Macedonianos Pneumatomachi,” in Friedrich Müller (ed.), GNO, III:1 (Leiden: Brill, 1958), 89–115), English trans. in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd ser. (New York: Christian Literature Co., 1893), V, Gregory of Nyssa, 315. Some of the text (but not this particular section) was translated and published in:  Anthony Meredith, Gregory of Nyssa (New York: Routledge 1999), 39–46. This text is dated by scholars to either 380 (Jean Daniélou, “La chronologie des oeuvres de Grégoire de Nysse,” in Papers presented to the Fourth International Conference on Patristic Studies held at Christ Church, Oxford, 1963, Studia Patristica 7, Frank L.  Cross (ed.) (Berlin:  Akademie-Verlag, 1966), 163) or shortly after the Council of Constantinople of 381 (Gerhard May, “Die Chronologie des Lebens und der Werke des Gregor von Nyssa,” in Marguerite Harl (ed.), Écriture et culture philosophique dans la pensée de Grégoire de Nysse: Actes du Colloque de Chevetogne (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 59).

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity

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Come and hear: A certain min once said to Rabbi, “He who formed the mountains did not create the wind, and he who created the wind did not form the mountains, as it is written: ‘For, lo, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind’ (Amos 4:13).” He replied, “You fool, look2 to the end of the verse: ‘The Lord, [the God] of hosts, is His name.’ ” Said the other, “A fool you call me?” … (Babylonian Talmud, Ḥullin 87a) Gregory, the fourth-century bishop of Nyssa, begins his treatise “On the Holy Spirit” by explaining why there is a need to engage with false doctrines.3 He regards his opponents’ views as heresy and describes their claim as foolish, but also dangerous. This is a prime example of Christian heresiological writing, a genre which, I will argue, bears similarity to rabbinic literary engagement with what they considered to be heretical views. This book is part of the scholarly research project which studies the literary contacts between rabbinic and Christian traditions as they appear in the Babylonian Talmud.4 As part of this scholarly zeitgeist, this book focuses on a select group of stories that belong to the minim narratives in the Babylonian Talmud. I believe through this limited corpus we can more safely determine that the min figure is meant to be understood in a Christian context. I do not claim to identify a specific orthodoxy, Christian or rabbinic, as sides in this argument. Instead, I intend to identify contemporaneous ideas expressed in Christian sources, and argue for a rabbinic engagement

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Literally, “look down.” More on the theological argument in Gerogry’s “On the Holy Spirit,” see Lucian Turcescu, Gregory of Nyssa and the Concept of Divine Persons (Oxford; New York: OUP, 2005), 109–114. 4 This analysis is based on the presumption of connections between the two religious communities, and the possibility of detecting such connections in the Talmud. I  have explored the reasons behind this scholarly assumption, and surveyed prior scholarship supporting this claim, in the first chapter of Early Christian Monastic Tradition and the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge:  CUP, 2013), 1–34. Additional explorations of this relationship have been published from different angles since that publication; see e.g. articles published in vols. 1 and 2 of Jewish Studies Quarterly 25 (2018), from the conference, “Talmud and Christianity: Rabbinic Judaism After Constantine,” Cambridge University UK (June 2016), and the survey of new scholarship dealing with the traditions found in the writings of Aphrahat, and rabbinic parallels in the Babylonian Talmud: Alyssa M. Gray, “The People, Not the Peoples: The Talmud Bavli’s ‘Charitable’ Contribution to the Jewish-Christian Conversation in Mesopotamia,” Review of Rabbinic Judaism 20 (2017), 137–167. 3

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Minim Stories in the Talmud: Introductory Discussion

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with these ideas. In essence, I identify with Bacher’s question, framed in the (French) title of his article from 1899: “Does the word minim sometimes signify ‘Christians’ in the Talmud?” and with his positive answer: “sometimes it also signifies Christians.”5 Minim stories in rabbinic literature, and specifically in the Babylonian Talmud, often follow an identifiable outline: they involve a rabbinic figure interacting with a heretic over a biblical verse. The min will ask a question, and the rabbinic figure will demonstrate its absurd premise, and will win the argument with a knockout. While the vast majority of these stories are found in the Babylonian Talmud,6 they almost always feature a tanna. In other words, the Talmudic stories portray rabbis who lived before the amoraic time, in the neighboring empire – namely, the Land of Israel. Most of these stories are very short, no more than a few lines long. Marcel Simon defined the challenges of this scholarly quest, and in effect outlined the parameters of this book over thirty years ago. In a chapter titled “The Christians in the Talmud” he writes:7 The problem appears to be a simple one: to find a meaning for, give a content to, the word minim. To what body of people was this obscure label applied? On surveying the mass of works that attempt to answer this question, it may be said that their authors, with very few exceptions, have made two mistakes. First, they have put the question in the wrong way. The only solutions they have allowed themselves to consider have been ones that are too rigid, too absolute, 5 Wilhelm Bacher, ‘‘Le mot ‘minim’ dans le Talmud désigne-t-il quelquefois des Chrétiens?’’ REJ 38 (1899), 44. 6 This phenomenon, where rabbinic engagement with Christianity, in general, is found much more in Babylonian than in Palestinian sources has been dealt with by scholars who suggested different historical reasoning:  Peter Schäfer (Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2007), viewed this as a result of different historical circumstances in which Babylonian Jews felt freer to critique the Christians (see also Holger Zellentin, “Margin of Error:  Women, Law, and Christianity in ‘Bavli Shabbat’ 116a–b,” in Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin (eds), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity (Tübingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 340– 344); while Daniel Boyarin (“Hellenism in Jewish Babylonia,” in Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert and Martin S. Jaffee (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge:  CUP, 2007), 336–363; and see also Aaron Amit, “A Rabbinic Satire on the Last Judgment,” Journal of Biblical Literature 129 (2010), 679–680, n.  4)  argued that this is rather a chronological matter resulting from the Babylonian Talmud’s later dating, when Christianity became a more pressing issue with which to contend. 7 Marcel Simon, Ben F. Meyer and Ed P. Sanders (eds), Verus Israel: A Study of the Relations between Christians and Jews in the Roman Empire (135–425) (New York: OUP, 1986), 180.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity and that give the impression of having been preconceived. Second, they have tried to derive the answer from the Talmudic texts alone, and the material here is so slight as to call for extreme caution. In limiting themselves to these texts, they have neglected to observe that there are scattered texts among the Christian writings that provide opportunities for cross-checking. Hardly ever are these two sources brought together. Yet such a procedure would appear to be indispensable. Without it, we are in an impasse.

Simon outlines two problems in his reflection on the vast literature that engaged with the minim traditions in rabbinic literature. The first is inadequate methodology, which leads to skewed academic results. The second is the absence of engagement with parallel Christian traditions that might shed light on the rabbinic passages, and of equal import – on the relationship between the communities that preserved these texts. While my solution will take a different turn than Simon’s, I too will try and offer a framework for working with minim stories and methodology to determine the context in which these texts were created and were meant to be understood. I will examine a carefully selected set of stories from the Babylonian Talmud featuring a min, in light of contemporaneous Christian readings of biblical verses or motifs. The Babylonian Talmud stories that will be investigated appear in b. Ḥullin 87a; b. Berakhot 10a; b. ‘Eruvin 101a; and b. Yevamot 102b. In line with Simon’s criticism, I shall also attempt to demonstrate my claim using Christian texts, instead of relying solely on the Talmudic passages. This point is especially crucial when dealing with minim stories that are often short and enigmatic; the heretical claim is often a single line. Admittedly, arguing a broader Christian context based on this textual evidence may appear ambitious. However, this methodology is supported by two facets: the parallel Christian texts seem to uncover a Talmudic shorthand, rather than force an illfitted theology on the rabbinic passage; and moreover, the fact that the selected stories all share a literary structure and terminology supports their characterization as a mini corpus, within the larger corpus of minim stories. All of the stories discussed in this book share the same structure: a min asks a seemingly unwise question or makes an easily refutable claim about a biblical verse; in response, the rabbinic figure addresses the claim, and ridicules the min, using the term “fool” in the process. Collecting these stories into a sub-corpus

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enables a broader view which supports the analysis of each individual case, through the cumulative weight of the texts. While my previous research focused on Eastern Christian sources,8 this proposed project expands its view to Western as well as Eastern sources. My method of research is based on the parallels that emerge between the sources. The comparative analysis shows that the Babylonian Talmud is reacting and dialoguing with very common Christian notions. The analyzed sources include wellknown passages from the New Testament, such as the Sermon on the Mount, or Old Testament passages that have alternative versions in the Septuagint and the Hebrew Masoretic text, which in turn become the basis for conflicting theological notions in both religious communities, both in the East and the West. In other words, in this book I do not wish to make a specific geographical claim about rabbinic knowledge of Syriac Christian traditions; instead, this book asks what these stories can teach us of the Babylonian Talmudic knowledge of Christian traditions. The passages analyzed in this book demonstrate an acquaintance with well-known Christian traditions, creating a literary dialogue with widely known Christian receptions of various biblical verses and themes. This mini-corpus of stories was selected due to their similar structure and to the shared semantic field in which the word “fool” was used. This term appears in all of the selected minim stories, and is used in Second Temple, early Christian and rabbinic texts. I will dedicate the next chapter to this claim, and demonstrate that the word “fool” was meant as an accusation concerning the misunderstanding of scripture. Fool is often accompanied by other related insults such as “empty,” ‫ ריק‬or its equivalent ‫חלק‬. The insult’s antonym is the praise “not empty” which represents the right and “full” understanding of scripture. “Fool” vs. “full.” The following chapters in this book will each be dedicated to a single story, demonstrating the Christian background against which the story should be read. In this chapter I will outline the underlining methodology for this book. I will explain my choice to read the minim stories as centering on heresy, and why they are part of boundary-creating discourse. I will explain my choice to translate minim as heresy, and in these narratives, more specifically as heretics presenting contemporaneous Christian arguments. My work is in line with Le Boulluec’s “Heresiological Representations,” in its attempt to describe the 8

Early Christian Monastic Literature.

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Talmudic minim stories as part of late antique heresiological discourse. After a survey of the vast secondary literature regarding minim in rabbinic texts in general and the Babylonian Talmud specifically, I will situate my own argument within the scholarly discourse. I will then address the question of the “historicity” of these stories, and posit that they should be read as a rabbinic literary response to contemporary Christian views. I will emphasize that the stories in the Babylonian Talmud are a literary genre that can potentially teach us about rabbinic awareness and anxiety of contemporaneous Christian biblical discussions. I will discuss my choice to situate the composition of these stories in later, rather than tannaitic times. I will outline the methodology that enables the texts to relate the history of the traditions, as well as the awareness of later, contemporary Christian traditions, and the sources of these traditions – from East and West. These include a possible awareness of Septuagint versions, which differ from the masoretic versions. I will discuss possible methods of integrating Christian traditions into the rabbinic Talmud: from Jewish-Christian encounters, to encounters with written texts and Christian liturgical processions in which New Testament passages were read. I stress that there is no need to determine the means through which the Christian traditions arrived in the Talmud; nonetheless, the oral nature of the passages, alongside awareness of secondary orality as “written word [which] leads to new forms of orality,”9 is clearly important. In turn, the oral nature of the traditions enabled more flexibility in the transmission of the traditions from West to East, and from Christian to rabbinic circles, in the diverse communities of late antiquity. The introduction will set the stage for the analysis of integrations of Christian traditions into the Talmudic text, and their role in creating heretic narratives with the purpose of delineating lines of difference between the “us” and “them.”

Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud The choice of the term “heretic” as a translation of the word min in the subtitle of this book, “Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud,” was not without forethought. Scholarship has long debated

9 Matthias Henze, “4 Ezra and 2 Baruch:  Literary Composition and Oral Performance in First-Century Apocalyptic Literature,” JBL 131 (2012), 183, n. 6.

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the precise meaning of the word min (singular; plural: minim) in stories that use this term to depict a character engaged in debates with a rabbinic figure. The term is unique to rabbinic literature, but appears to have been known by Christian writers, such as Justin Martyr and Jerome.10 While the exact etymology of the term min is unknown, scholars agree that the most likely derivation is from the identical word in Biblical Hebrew, meaning “type” or “kind.”11 The meaning of the word was, thus, generally deduced from context, since the derivation of the word is hard to determine.12 Therefore, the scholarly debate of this question was tied directly to the attempt to link the intended reference of these characters to specific groups in late antiquity, based on the rabbinic passages themselves. Minut As Heresy The vast majority of scholars tended to align the use of min, and its noun abstraction minut,13 with heresy. According to this interpretation, minim are heretics, who hold false or harmful beliefs.14 10 Jerome’s 403 letter to Augustine and Dialogue with Trypho 80, David M. Grossberg, Heresy and the Formation of the Rabbinic Community (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017), 50, n. 2. 11 George F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries, III (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930), 68; Martin Goodman, “The Function of ‘Minim’ in Early Rabbinic Judaism,” Judaism in the Roman World; Collected Essays (Leiden: Brill 2006), 163– 173, there p. 167; Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 55; Alan F. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1977), 4–5, and n. 2; Ismar Elbogen, Der jüdische Gottesdienst in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1962), 36; Simon, Verus Israel, 181. See additional less likely suggestion in Jacob Levy (ed.), Neuhebräisches und chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Talmudim und Midrashim (Leipzig: Brockhaus 1876–1879), III, 104a (from the Arabic root man – “to speak falsely”), and see Robert T. Herford, Christianity in the Talmud and Midrash (London: Williams & Norgate, 1903), 362–365, for a possible connection to the root ‫( זן‬Wilhelm Bacher in his review of Robert T. Herford’s “Christianity in Talmud and Midrash,” Jewish Quarterly Review 17 (1904), 178, suggests this idea is taken from Friedmann, in his commentary on Pesiqta Rabbati, 101a). Herford also discusses other options, such as ‫( מאמין‬suggested by Manuel Joël, Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des zweiten christlichen Jahrhunderts (Breslau: Schottlaender, 1880), II, 71) and ‫ ;מאני‬see Herford, Christianity, 365. See also Bacher, “Le mot ‘minim,’” 45. 12 Goodman, “Function of ‘Minim,’” 167. 13 Goodman (p.  166) notes that the creation of an abstract noun for discussing the religious beliefs of a group is unique in the early rabbinic strata  – there is no Pharisaism or Sadducaism in tannaitic literature. Marcel Simon goes further by suggesting that Justin’s use of hairesis is “the translation of the Hebrew minuth” (p. 106). 14 See e.g. the phrasing in Yaakov Sussmann, “The History of Halakha and the Dead Sea Scrolls  – Preliminary Observations on Miqṣat Ma’ase Ha-Torah (4QMMT),” Tarbiz 59 (1989), 54, n.  176 [Hebrew]. See also Boyarin, Goodman, Simon and many others.

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This reading of the term minut aligned the rabbinic passages with a parallel development in Christian sources. The “mutual and parallel shaping of heresy as otherness” in ancient Christian and contemporaneous rabbinic writings was described by scholars such as Daniel Boyarin15 and Martin Goodman.16 Similarly, Marcel Simon concluded: “It seems that the term hairesis has undergone in Judaism an evolution identical to, and parallel with, the one it underwent in Christianity.”17 Shaye Cohen proposed “nearly identical” theories of self-definition by the rabbis and church fathers, and suggested both were influenced by the “Oriental polemic against Hellenism.”18 Such scholarship used the vast body of literature on Christian heresiology to better understand minut in rabbinic and earlier Second Temple sources.19 John Glucker describes the historical development of the word αἵρεσις. He begins with the verb αἱρέομαι, “to choose,”20 and describes its later uses and the emergence of αἵρεσις as an abstract concept, “school of thought” and “persuasion.” He emphasizes that, even when the term begins to be used to denote heresy, it always advocates orthodox doctrines, and never indicates an institutional concept.21 Heinrich von Staden demonstrates how these more neutral descriptions were used in patristic writings denoting “breaking away,” and “separation.”22 Scholars 15 Boyarin, Border Lines, 55. See also Stephen Goranson, The Joseph of Tiberias Episode in Epiphanius:  Studies in Jewish and Christian Relations (Ph.D.  diss., Duke University, 1990), 97. 16 “Function of ‘Minim,’” 165. 17 “From Greek Hairesis to Christian Heresy,” in William R. Schoedel and Robert L. Wilken (eds), Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition: In Honorem R. M. Grant (Paris: Éditions Beauchesne, 1979), 106. 18 Shaye J. D. Cohen, “A Virgin Defiled: Some Rabbinic and Christian Views on the Origin of Heresy,” USQR 36:1 (1980), 1–11, here p. 8. 19 The scholarship on Christian heresiography from the classic Adolf Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte des Urchristentums, urkundlich dargestellt (Leipzig, 1884; rep. Hildesheim, 1964), is vast. For a survey of more recent scholarship from 1930 to 1990 see Michel Desjardin, “Bauer and Beyond: On Recent Scholarly Discussions of Hairesis in the Early Christian Era,” Second Century 8 (1991), 65–82. For an excellent summary, see the introduction to Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M.  Zellentin, “Making Selves and Marking Others: Identity and Late Antique Heresiologies,” in Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin (eds), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 1–27. For a good review on of history of scholarship on the non-Christian haeresis see David T. Runia, “Philo of Alexandria and the Greek Hairesis-Model,” VC 53 (1999), 117–147. 20 John Glucker, Antiochus and the Late Academy (Göttingen:  Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 166–192, and specifically p. 168, n. 18. 21 Glucker, Antiochus, 181, 192. 22 Heinrich von Staden, “Hairesis and Heresy: The Case of the haireseis iatrikai,” in Ben F.  Meyer and Ed  P. Sanders (eds), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, III, Self-Definition in the Greco-Roman World (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 76–100.

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such as Marcel Simon23 and Alain Le Boulluec24 focus on the discursive study of the term’s usage in ancient religious texts from Second Temple writers such as Josephus, the New Testament (Acts), Greek writers and specifically the writings of church fathers.25 Such scholarship emphasize the importance of preventing confusion of the ancient misrepresentations of “the other” with actual socio-historical realities. They choose to describe the constructed character of “heresy” in literature, instead of viewing heresy as a representation of a historical reality. Building on Bauer’s26 argument that orthodoxy is a historical idea that evolved out of the second century of Christianity, Le Boulluec examines the development of heresy in five heresiographers: Justin, Hegesippus, Irenaeus, Clement and Origen. While focusing on the disjunctions between the church fathers’ descriptions of the Gnostics and the “gnostic” documents discovered at Nag Hammadi, Le Boulluec stresses the constructed character of so-called heresy in these texts, which he calls “heresiological representations.”27 He finds that “with Justin there emerged an intellectual system aimed at excluding certain theological positions from Christianity,” and explains how the concept of haíresis was “both simple and convenient.”28 In addition to discussing the question of whether Justin was the inventor of heresy, or preceded by Greek, Roman29 or even Jewish/ rabbinic writers,30 the function and use of the term heresy in this discourse is defined by Le Boulluec. According to his definition, heresy (1) deprived the “heretics” of the designation “Christians,” (2) lumped together different groups and (3) ignored their historical and sociological connections to Christianity.31 Heresy is, in fact, a method of converting difference into exclusion, instead of reacting and acknowledging the substance and development of differences.32 23

“From Greek Hairesis,” 101–116. Alain Le Boulluec, La notion d’hérésie dans la littérature grecque IIe–IIIe siècles (Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1985). And see David T. Runia’s review of the book in VC 42 (1988), 188–207. 25 See Boulluec, La notion d’hérésie, 37–39, 41–48. 26 Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971). And see Le Boulluec, La notion d’hérésie, 547–549. 27 La notion d’hérésie, 19. 28 Alain Le Boulluec, “Häresie,” II, 2 (“Church History”), in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Brill online reference works. See also Boulluec, La notion d’hérésie, 37. 29 Rebecca Lyman, “2002 NAPS Presidential Address:  Hellenism and Heresy,” JECS 11:2 (2003), 209–222. 30 Boyarin, Border Lines, 41. 31 La notion d’hérésie, 551. 32 See Runia, “Philo of Alexandria,” on this point. 24

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In light of this background, Daniel Boyarin’s book explores the parallel processes of heresiology, as found in rabbinic minim stories and Christian writings, among others. But Boyarin goes one step further, and claims that these processes play a “powerful role” in the creation of the difference itself, between the two religions, thus shaping the religion itself. According to Boyarin, the heresiological differentiation leads to the creation of the Christian religion as a category. Rabbinic passages show that the contemporary rabbis acted similarly by excluding the Christian “other,” and thus created the “autonomy brought by the self-definition of an ‘orthodox’ Judaism vis-à-vis an ‘orthodox’ Christianity, or Judaism as a religion.”33 Adiel Schremer counters this basic assumption that minim are heretics; that minut is heresy; and that what makes them minim is their false beliefs.34 Schremer views this position as part of what he calls a “Christianizing reading of rabbinic material,” in which scholarship incorrectly applies Christian notions to rabbinic sources.35 The conclusion of his survey of early tannaitic material is that the term is not used to denote theological difference, or a doctrinal disagreement, but rather a social one. In other words, minut is not about beliefs, but rather about action. Not what people believed but rather what they did: “Minim accordingly, are constructed as Jews who separated themselves from the community … Minut is frequently spoken of as social segregation, and minim are depicted by various sources not only as expressing dissenting views but also as having different customs and ways of practicing their Judaism.”36 Thus, it should not be assumed that minim are specifically Christians, and the polemics against minim should not be viewed as involving dogma, but rather an objection to separatist notions. Schremer’s argument has merit, especially since it follows in the footsteps of scholars such as Adolph Büchler in differentiating between earlier and later

33

Boyarin, Border Lines, 11–12. He was not the first to raise this issue. See e.g. Lawrence H. Schiffman, “At the Crossroads: Tannaitic Perspectives on the Jewish-Christian Schism,” in Ed P. Sanders (ed.), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, II (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1982), 115–156, and Cohen, “A Virgin Defiled.” See Karin Zetterholm-Lund, “‘Jewishly’Behaving Gentiles and the Emergence of Rabbinic Identity,” JSQ 25 (2018), 321–344, which argues that the problem with early minim is that they represent a certain ethnic permeability between Jews and Gentiles. 35 Adiel Schremer, Brothers Estranged: Heresy, Christianity, and Jewish Identity in Late Antiquity (Oxford; New York: OUP, 2010), 15. 36 Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 16. 34

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uses of the term min in rabbinic literature.37 Schremer only makes his claim regarding early tannaitic literature: since Christianity is seldom mentioned there, a more productive reading of the polemics would be with regard to the imperial cult and imperial power.38 However, even within his limited corpora of tannaitic minim materials, Schremer must grapple with a few sources that do relate to minut as the holding of a theological view rather than simply different customs and practices, including the explicit mention of Christianity and followers of Jesus (famously in the t. Ḥullin 2:20– 24).39 He ultimately includes these cases under a broader umbrella definition of his discourse of social boundaries: “many of these views can be related to an existential stance of denial of God, which was seen by Palestinian rabbis as leading to a renunciation of the Jewish community.”40 He suggests that the explicit Christian passages are the moment of change, when the “boundary begins to be constructed.”41 Schremer’s careful reading of the term in early sources is important in its emphasis on the need to avoid careless assumptions about the identity of the minim and their relations to Christians and Christianity. At the same time, broadening the definition of separatists and sectarians to include Christians, due to their resultant beliefs in social separation, brings us full circle to the inclusion of wrong beliefs in the groups identified as minim, and therefore enables us to name at least some of its members “heretics” in the dogmatic sense of the word. While not all minim should be automatically treated as heretics in the dogmatic sense, some certainly were, even 37 Adolph Büchler, “The Minim of Sepphoris and Tiberias in the Second and Third Centuries,” in Studies in Jewish History: The Adolph Büchler Memorial Volume, Israel Brodie and Joseph Rabbinowitz (eds) (Oxford: OUP, 1956), 245–274. 38 While he doesn’t discuss minim in the later sources, such as the Babylonian Talmud, Schremer consistently shows later reworking of early Palestinian sources in the Talmud. However, he does not seem to regard these reworkings as evidence of actual contemporary contact with minim (in the sense that Schremer believed this term was used in early sources). In one footnote, Schremer even goes as far as accepting the Babylonian Talmud’s own testimony, stating, “according to the Babylonian Talmud itself minim were almost unknown in Babylonia” (p. 189, n. 48, and see his explanation on p. 23). He seems to acknowledge the references to Christianity in the Talmud, but not in the minim stories it preserved. On the rabbis’ attitude towards the imperial cult, before and after Constantine, see also Holger Zellentin, “The Rabbis on (the Christianisation of the Imperial Cult): Mishnah and Yerusalmi Avodah Zarah 3:1 (42b, 54–42c, 61),” in Uzi Leibner and Catherine Hezser (eds), Jewish Art in its Late Antique Context (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 321–357; Daniel Weiss, “The Christianization of Rome and the Edomization of Christianity: Avodah Zarah and Political Power,” JSQ 25 (2018), 394–422. 39 See fourth chapter, Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 87–100. 40 Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 16. 41 Schremer, Brothers Estranged, 94.

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according to Schremer. In other words, the fact that there was never a clear delineation between political and theological arguments in the ancient world (as in our own modern world) compelled Schremer to broaden his definition.42 Since this study strives to uncover the meaning of the term minim solely on the basis of textual context, the scholarly enforcement of rigid categories on ancient terms proves inadequate. The term heresy in rabbinic literature has a “semantic ambiguity” that allows scholars to read it according to their own, created, scholarly question.43 Minim as Heretics in the Babylonian Talmud With that in mind, I will now return to my decision to name the Babylonian Talmudic minim “heretics.” Chronology is crucial to this decision. I identify with the methodology that separated layers of rabbinic literature with regard to minim stories. While earlier sources may be more ambiguous in their intended use of the term minim, along the simplistic lines of either wrong beliefs or wrong deeds, I find that in later sources, specifically the Babylonian Talmud, the term is more securely situated within the “wrong belief ” camp. I will rely on Schremer and Grossberg’s extensive survey of the scholarship until 2017 regarding the minim in tannaitic sources, and later in Palestinian sources, and avoid detailing it myself. Instead I will focus on the relevant corpus for the purpose of my research, namely, the Babylonian Talmud. This book will not make sweeping claims regarding the use of the term in all minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud. In one case (b. Ḥullin 87a), I will even show how a later reworking of a min story within the Talmud itself (b. Sanhedrin 39a) changes the original anti-Christian meaning of the min-rabbi dialogue. However, the stories I do address represent a rabbinic literary grappling with a Christian theological claim: a rabbinic dialogue with a Christian reading of a biblical verse, or a biblical theme, viewed as erroneous by the rabbinic composers. Therefore, I find the use of the translation of minim as “heretics” to be accurate.

42 Similarly, Peter Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus:  How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 7–8; “with his stark contrast of ‘theological’ versus ‘political’ he has set up a straw man that may be useful for developing a new theory but woefully fails to correspond to the historical reality. After all, it is a futile and naïve undertaking to attempt to separate neatly ‘theology’ from ‘politics,’ and this is certainly true for late antiquity, the period in question” (p. 8). 43 As described in Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community, 32–37.

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Not only do I think the translation in the case of these specific stories is correct, I also believe it is necessary. Scholars such as Schremer make a point of verifying the correct translation of this term, minim, because a wrong translation may lead to attributing incorrect meaning (in this case, heresy) to the term due to its use in Christian contexts. This principle is important in all scholarship, when trying to preserve a measure of neutrality while deciphering ancient civilizations through text. However, it is doubly important when dealing with a term such as heresy, which was used in ancient texts precisely for the purpose of eliciting a reaction in the listener that will lead to separation. Naming someone “a heretic” was part of the process of differentiating between oneself and the “other”: “the power of naming to shape the perception and organization of social space, political status, and group boundaries.”44 Using the terms “heretics” and “heresy” in conjunction with the Talmudic minim stories thus, purposefully, aligns them within the late antique heresy-making discourses. Naming is a tool in the process of creating a boundary, an entity, a phenomenon – one which is distinct and different. This was a prevalent tool in ancient times, especially in the heresy-making discourses we have left from that period, with a lasting effect: this tagging elicits meaning for readers of these texts in the years following their creation. When we read a text from a different era, words echo in a particular way. For example, teaching Talmudic texts in English is far more difficult than teaching the same texts in the original Hebrew; when Hebrew is read by Hebrew-speaking students, they naturally have easier access to the texts that were written in their mother tongues. However, they often unconsciously apply modern meanings to ancient words that originally had a different meaning. Reading the texts in Hebrew allows us to glide through the text, without realizing the hermeneutical movement taking place in our minds. When we engage the text in translation and are forced to commit to a specific translation of a word or term, we are compelled to stop and reconsider those presuppositions. So – translations matter. For example, Moore defines the use of the terms ‫ כת‬and ‫ מינים‬in rabbinic literature: “a neutral word for party or sect is ‫כת‬, while ‫ מינים‬implies disapproval.”45 While Moore does not feel the need to demonstrate his claim in certain texts, he clearly

44 45

Iricinschi and Zellentin, “Making Selves,” 20. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries, 68.

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feels the weight of the Christian heresy discourse when reading the term minim. Words resonate in the scholar’s modern mind. Similarly, by leaving the word minim untranslated, as is often the case in scholarship that is aware of the complicated history of translating specific terminology, two things may happen. On the one hand, we attempt scholarly caution, and prevent a projection of borrowed meaning that stems from a different set of historical circumstances on the given term. On the other hand, by leaving the term untranslated we might be missing the full meaning of the term as it was understood in these ancient texts. The composers of the traditions preserved in the Babylonian Talmud used the term minim in specific historical circumstances. I will try and prove that to their listeners, the term meant “heresy,” or “wrong belief.” A story featuring the min was meant to be understood as a literary attempt to raise the issue of heretical beliefs. Avoiding the translation is also avoiding the weight of the term within the heresy-making discourse. In her 2005 book, Why This New Race, Denise Kimber Buell addresses these translation-related scholarly predicaments, specifically regarding the historical treatment of the terms genos and ethnos.46 These terms are especially important if we consider that scholarship has identified the origins of the word min in the biblical min, denoting “kind,” or “species,” rendered in Septuagint Greek as genos.47 Buell shows how preconceived notions about nascent Christianity and its perceived wish to create a new universal religion, lead to an understanding of the use of the terms genos and ethnos in early Christian writings as denoting a non-racial meaning, such as a class or a voluntary group of adherers. She argues that these terms must be read as intended in their time, with the appropriate “racial weight.” She emphasizes that scholarship has failed to recognize the importance of ethnic reasoning in these ancient Christian writings because of “how dominant modern ideas about race, ethnicity, and religion inform our approaches to and presuppositions about the meanings of those three terms.” While it is clear that we, as readers, bring to the text our modern preconceptions of race and ethnicity, “our ability to measure … the persuasiveness of a reading for its context cannot be separated from our present assessment of the

46 Denise Kimber Buell, Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). 47 Simon, Verus Israel, 181.

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historical context.”48 Therefore, earlier scholarship tended to divide the terms used in the Christian texts in the following scheme: “race” and “ethnicity” denote a fixed or given facet of identity, whereas “religion” is voluntary. Alternatively, she suggests that race and ethnicity in early Christianity were concepts that were fluid and subject to change: “concepts to which fixity is attributed but that are nevertheless malleable.”49 While Buell redefines what genos and ethnos meant to early Christian writers, she still chooses to use the word “race” in the translation and title of her work: … we need to reconsider the charge of anachronism in light of broader questions about how we write history. “Race,” “ethnicity,” and “religion” are all modern categories. The question of the viability of using these categories to speak about ancient self-understandings is partly about how to formulate an interpretive framework that accounts for historical difference while still being intelligible to the interpreter. But it is also about how to define these concepts now by asserting a difference between the present and the past. We can place modern categories into conversation with ancient ones without effacing their differences, even while we must also acknowledge that we can only understand those differences through the lens of our present. Buell warns that scholarship must to be aware of the differences between early and late uses of a term. Scholarship must take into account the weight of the historical reception of ideas, and, in the case of genos, for example, the role it played in the violent history of anti-Semitism. Modern meaning should not be attributed to a term in an ancient text. However, taking the opposite approach, and avoiding the use of terms such as “race” while interpreting these texts, also means missing out on the full meaning of these terms in ancient times. Therefore, she chooses to use the word “race,” cautiously, with nuance, but engages with the intended original meaning, as well as the ongoing meaning of race.50 I wish to take up Buell’s call to “place modern categories into conversation with ancient ones without effacing their differences, even 48

Buell, Why This New Race, 5. Buell, Why This New Race, 6. 50 See review by Karen King, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, 34:2 (Spring, 2006), https:// bit.ly/2D6iARU. 49

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while we must also acknowledge that we can only understand those differences through the lens of our present.” More significantly, I take into account the “heresy weight” derived from Christian writers of the past, and as interpreted by modern Christian studies scholarship, fitting in the case of the Babylonian Talmudic narratives I address. I believe it is mandatory to use the terms “heretics” and “heresy” to describe these narratives and their function. These terms were used in a certain discursive way in the past, and should be understood as such when read today. I acknowledge, of course, that paradigmatic differences exist in the application of heresy in early Christian and rabbinic texts. Boundary-making discourses may be similar to one another, but their portrayal is often culturally specific. I do not attempt to blur these lines. Sameness discourse in scholarship51 is as much a mistake as avoiding translation to preserve perceived differences. I will thus use the word “heretics” while attempting to use it in the rabbinic Talmudic context in which it was intended, and for its own cultural usages. In addition to the use of the word minim to indicate heretics, I will suggest, in the next chapter, that the use of the term “fool” in the rabbinic passages to describe the heretical question is also part of a boundary-making discourse. I will illuminate the term’s uses and semantic field in late antique texts, denoting someone who misinterprets scripture, alongside other similar insults. When discussing that term, as well, I will use translation that approximates these uses in our modern world. “Fool” and “heresy” should both be given the weight of historical uses of the exact term. I am convinced that while we should remember the differences, we must also engage with the past through our translations of these texts, as Buell suggests. Heresy vs. “Heresiological Representations” Needless to say, I do not engage with value judgment of true and false beliefs. I translate the texts from a distance, as part of the study of “heresiological representations.” To quote Le Boulluec:52

51 Jonathan Z. Smith, Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity (London: School of Oriental and African Studies; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 36–53. 52 La notion d’hérésie, 19. Translation to English found in Geoffrey Stephen Smith, Guilt by Association: Heresy Catalogues in Early Christianity (Oxford: OUP, 2015), 52, n. 7.

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In choosing to speak of “heresiological representations,” we are attempting to get out of the circle of value judgments implied by the term “heresy” and of the abstraction of the antithesis between “heterodoxy” and “orthodoxy.” In assuming these concepts one risks not being able to undo the condemnations and praises that they carry and remaining imprisoned by the artifices of heresiology. One of the successes of this is precisely to have given to heresy the appearance of a general and timeless notion and the force of a name whose mere utterance is enough to produce disapproval and exclusion. If we confine ourselves to the study of “heresiological representations,” we straightaway place heresy alongside contingent constructions and we are better able to grasp the historical circumstances of the appearance of the concept and its entirely relative existence. In other words, scholarship should not attempt to describe orthodox identities versus heretical ones, but should rather describe the late antique cultural process that attempted to define them. The heresiological discourse is a way to learn about the groups and the composers of their texts. The discourse sought to persuade us that “heretics,” like their counterparts, are “plainly identifiable and as incontrovertibly ‘other’ as the most inveterate of ‘Gentile idolaters’; in so doing it also seeks to persuade that ‘we’ are no less identifiable, and ever have been.”53 This book will therefore ask: What is the nature of rabbinic stories about minim and their interactions with rabbinic figures?54 What is the function of stories in which a heretic approaches a rabbinic figure with a question and in response is rebuffed? Are these literary depictions of actual historical polemics, or are they merely Jewish rabbinic fantasies meant to ridicule the “other”? Can the awareness of late antique heresy-making discourse change the way we might learn about historical events, as they might have been preserved in these traditions? Of course, these questions have fundamental ramifications for both the historical research of Jewish-Christian interactions in late antiquity and the literary study of the composition of the Talmudic corpora.

53 Judith Lieu, Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford: OUP, 2004), 297. 54 For a survey of these sources, see e.g. Daniel Sperber, “Min,” Encyclopedia Judaica, XIV, 263–264, 2nd ed., Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (eds) (Detroit: Macmillan, 2007), and Segal, Two Powers in Heaven.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity Who are the Minim?

Scholars recognized the identification of minim as a crucial element required to enable us to answer these questions. Who are the minim meant to represent in these texts? Scholars have proposed many different possible referents for this term. For example, Moriz Friedländer,55 Arthur Marmorstein,56 and Adolf Büchler,57 among others, favored the Gnostics. Herford recognized them as Christians, mostly of Jewish origin.58 Others proposed members of one of the Greco-Roman religions; Samaritans; Sadducees; and supporters of Roman rule.59 The assumption, in these attempts, was that within the wide spectrum of rabbinic sources we are indeed dealing with clearly defined boundaries between what was regarded as an accepted set of ideas and what was not regarded as such – hence, with boundaries between “orthodoxy” and “heresy” – and that almost all the varieties of 55 Moriz Friedländer, Der Vorchristliche jüdische Gnosticismus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1898). 56 Arthur Marmorstein, “Les rabbins et les Evangiles,” Revue des études juives 92 (1931), 31–54, here p. 48. 57 Adolf Büchler, “Über die Minim von Sepphoris und Tiberias im zweiten und dritten Jahrhundert,” in Judaica:  Festschrift zu Hermann Cohens siebzigstem Geburtstage (Berlin: Cassirer, 1912), 271–295. 58 Herford, Christianity. A conclusion drawn from his central use of the Epistle to the Hebrews. See Simon, Verus Israel, 181, and Boyarin, Border Lines, 247, n. 96. See also Bacher, “Le mot ‘minim.’” 59 See e.g. the range described by Segal, Two Powers in Heaven. Samuel Tobias Lachs, “Rabbi Abbahu and the Minim,” Jewish Quarterly Review 60 (1970), 197–212; Cohen, “A Virgin Defiled”; Reuven Kimelman, “Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack of Evidence for an Anti-Christian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity,” in Ed P. Sanders, Al Baumgarten and Alan Mendelson (eds), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, II, Aspects of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman Period (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 226– 244; Schiffman, “At the Crossroads”; Simon, Verus Israel; David Flusser, “Some of the Precepts of the Torah from Qumran (4QMMT) and the Benediction Against the Heretics,” Tarbiz 61 (1992), 333–374 [Hebrew]; Stuart S. Miller, “The Minim of Sepphoris Reconsidered,” Harvard Theological Review 86 (1993), 377–402; Goodman, “Function of ‘Minim’ ”; Richard L. Kalmin, “Christians and Heretics in Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity,” Harvard Theological Review 87 (1994), 155–169; Naomi Janowitz, “Rabbis and their Opponents: The Construction of the ‘Min’ in Rabbinic Anecdotes,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 6:3 (1998), 449–462; Christine Hayes, “Displaced Self-Perceptions; The Deployment of Minim and Romans in B. Sanhedrin 90b-9/a,” in Hayim Lapin (ed.), Religious and Ethnic Communities in Later Roman Palestine (Lanham, MD:  University Press of Maryland, 1999), 249–289; Boyarin, Border Lines; Yaakov Y.  Teppler, Birkat haMinim:  Jews and Christians in Conflict in the Ancient World, trans. Susan Weingarten (Tübingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 2007); Schremer, Brothers Estranged; Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus. Additional scholarship on minim is surveyed in Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community, especially around p. 28, n. 3.

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heresies can in fact be identified as belonging to this or that heretical group … in retrospect – a rather naïve confidence in our ability to pin down the heretical “sects” addressed in the sources.60 Most scholars now agree that the term min or minim in rabbinic literature cannot easily be applied to a specific non-rabbinic group.61 In addition to the ambiguous boundaries between late antique Christian groups, the various works of rabbinic literature reflect different uses of this term, which sometimes can be defined more specifically in light of a particular literary context, but oftentimes cannot. The larger heresiological genre has taught us that these boundarymaking writers tended to lump their opponents together in order to showcase their perceived incoherence and discrepancies, or to exaggerate the threat they pose.62 When comparing minim stories to nonJewish parallels, sometimes a story can be attached to a certain late antique passage, or a historical milieu, but other times we need to be reassured by the existence of a parallel view in contemporary setting, but nothing more specific than that. However, recent scholarship has greatly advanced our understanding of ways to approach the sources in which the minim stories appear in rabbinic literature. For example, such studies have focused on the importance of the chronological difference between the sources: early on Büchler had observed changes in the term’s use over time, suggesting that min in tannaitic sources refers to a heretical Jew, whereas in Talmudic literature it denotes a non-Jewish heretic.63 While Adiel Schremer expanded on Büchler’s thesis in tannaitic literature,64 Richard Kalmin explored the differing uses of the term

60

Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus, 4. E.g. Simon, Verus Israel, 181–182: “min and minim never meant any particular sect. Minim designated simply any dissident body, whatever its particular characteristics, which rejected in any respect the thought or practice of Jewish orthodoxy … A  designation as elastic as the term minim could well cover, at different times and in different places, very different things, and it is likely that the precise meaning will never be beyond dispute.” See also Sussmann, “The History of Halakha,” 54, n. 176; Cohen, “A Virgin Defiled,” 3. See also Miller, “The Minim of Sepphoris”; Christine E. Hayes, “Legal Realism and the Fashioning of Sectarians in Jewish Antiquity,” in Sacha Stern (ed.), Sects and Sectarianism in Jewish History (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 133, n.  26; Steven T.  Katz, “The Rabbinic Response to Christianity,” in Steven T.  Katz (ed.), The Cambridge History of Judaism, IV (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), 287–293. 62 Epiphanius is a good example. I thank Holger Zellentin for his help with formulating this last point. 63 Büchler, “The Minim of Sepphoris.” 64 Schremer, Brothers Estranged. 61

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in Palestinian and Babylonian sources.65 The latter have many more minim stories, almost all of which depict the min in conversation with Palestinian rabbis. Kalmin takes this as yet another indication of the Babylonian rabbis’ “separation from Bible-reading non-Jews,” likely influenced by Zoroastrian practices.66 Minim in the Babylonian Talmud If indeed the minim stories demonstrate engagement with Christian readings in these select heretic stories, we may thus ask: when we read, for example, a Talmudic story wherein Beruriah is talking to a heretic expressing contemporaneous Christian views, or where R. Abbahu is presented dialoguing fiercely with a Christian min, what is the nature of these stories? Scholarship, which operated on the assumption of Christian background, also addressed these questions. Alan Segal,67 Marcel Simon, Richard Kalmin and Shai Secunda, among others, view such stories as providing historical evidence of some sort. Simon wrote that the stories “show that the Christian anti-Jewish works are genuinely based on actual encounters, i.e., that they are not merely academic dissertations, but frequently bring us echoes of real controversies.”68 He goes on to say that “since so many texts bear witness to the fact that the minim were Christians, we are entitled to conclude that the doctrinal controversies were real controversies. The Christian polemical works, in spite of their sometimes affected manner, genuinely echo these.”69 Richard Kalmin read the Babylonian minim stories as a reflection of a historical situation, not in Babylonia but rather in Palestine.70

65

Kalmin, “Christians and Heretics.” Richard L. Kalmin, The Sage in Jewish Society of Late Antiquity (London; New York: Routledge, 1999). 67 Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 117. But Segal also considers that “the incident may never have happened at all but, if not, the creator’s imagination was fired by a real issue in the third century community.” 68 Simon, Verus Israel, 186. 69 Simon, Verus Israel, 196. 70 I refer to his view specifically regarding the minim stories as expressed in his 1994 article, “Christians and Heretics in Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity.” To be clear, in his recent work, Kalmin has demonstrated an overall attitude that is very close to the conclusions I draw in my work in general, and in this book specifically. For example, in his most recent book, Migrating Tales: The Talmud’s Narratives and their Historical Context (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2014), he discusses the relationship between Jews and Christians in Mesopotamia. He argues in chapter 1 in particular, but also in chapters 3 and 5, that Mesopotamian Jews and Christians occupied a common cultural sphere, and that the literature of one group impinged 66

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Marcel Simon expresses a similar view, learning about Palestinian historical realities from their depiction in the Babylonian Talmud, an undeniably non-Palestinian source, expressing his wish that “it would be gratifying to be able to complete the case with the help of texts emanating from the diaspora(!)”71 Shai Secunda agrees that the stories “partially reflect polemical realities in Roman Palestine,” but views the abundance of minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud as evidence of such polemical interactions in the Persian Empire itself.72 Other scholars have suggested that we read the minim in these stories not as evidence of historical interactions, but rather as articulations of inner rabbinic attitudes. In one article, Christine Hayes sees in these texts evidence of rabbinic anxiety about their own advanced methods of midrashic biblical interpretation, and the extent of their authority as interpreters of the biblical text.73 Putting these views in the mouths of non-rabbis shows the rabbis’ ability to understand, and to some extent internalize, the critique of their own work. While Hayes expresses this view in a limited way, without a sweeping claim regarding its application in all minim stories, David Grossberg applied her insight to the entire corpus of minim stories, and heretic narratives in general (including other references to groups such as meshumadim, apiqorsim and sinners of Israel).74 In other words, according to Hayes and

on that of the other. Kalmin emphasizes the nature of the interactions between the groups, as found in various sources:  the rabbis avoided informal interactions with non-rabbinic Jews who they thought would have little to give them. Babylonian rabbis interacted with non-rabbinic Jews in formal contexts, e.g. judging their legal cases or lecturing in the formal context of the pirka. This, argues Kalmin, is contrasted with Palestinian rabbis, who are depicted as interacting with non-rabbinic Jews in both the Palestinian Talmud (and aggadic midrashim) and the Babylonian Talmud. In a private communication Kalmin observed that, with regard specifically to Babylonian Talmud minim stories, he did not think they proved contact between rabbis and minim was frequent since the dialogues are so obviously polemical. The reason he concluded that contact between them was indeed frequent in Palestine was not the minim stories, but rather several cases in which Palestinian rabbis express in very harsh terms the need to keep their distance. 71 Simon, Verus Israel, 196. 72 Shai Secunda, “Reading the Bavli in Iran,” JQR 100 (2010), 310–342, there on p. 334. 73 Christine E.  Hayes, “Displaced Self-Perceptions:  The Deployment of ‘mînîm’ and Romans in b. Sanhedrin 90b-91a,” in Hayim Lapin (ed.), Religious and Ethnic Communities in Later Roman Palestine (Bethesda, MD: University Press of Maryland, 1998), 249–289. 74 Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community. It should be noted that, while Grossberg acknowledges that Hayes “anticipated [Grossberg]’s approach,” she is astonishingly never quoted in the body of the book, her argument is not laid out as part of the main thesis, and she is only briefly mentioned in p. 74, n. 83.

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Grossberg, what we read, when we read dialogues between rabbinic Jews and heretics, is a fabricated story, a discursive invention through which we can glean insights into the rabbis’ own mindset. A Rabbinic Literary Response to Contemporaneous Christian Views Yet, must we really choose between reading Talmudic dialogues between Jews and Christians as literary fiction or historical depiction? In this book, I will attempt to suggest a middle ground for reading some of these stories, which I shall demonstrate through a close reading of a few examples. I will suggest reading a rabbinic dialogue with a min as an intellectual exercise on the part of the rabbis, a fictitious dialogue composed to express rabbinic thought. In this way, I will side with Hayes and Grossberg’s non-historical approach to these texts, which do not, in my view, represent actual Jewish-Christian dialogues and should not be read as such. However, I will propose that these fictional literary creations are rooted in historical realities.75 Here, I come closer to Secunda and Kalmin; however, I will not attempt to understand the stories in light of historical Jewish-Christian polemics. Rather, I will read them in the context of internal Christian discussions. I will call for a reading of the stories as a rabbinic attempt to take part in the broader conversation happening outside their doors. These stories relate to biblical discussions taking place among various Christian groups in the midst of the extraordinary process of the formation of Christianity in late antiquity. These Christian discussions range, for instance, from beliefs and practices, to Christians’ relationship to scripture, to their attitudes towards the Roman and Persian Empires. In my mind, the rabbinic texts reflect the thought processes of the small group of rabbis looking at the biblical and theological discussions in the Christian world and imagining how they might participate in the conversation. 75 In another article, Hayes identifies “broad features common to the vast majority of rabbinic portrayals of heretics” and argues that “the literary representation of heretics is grounded in an earlier experience of divergent legal epistemologies” (Hayes, “Legal Realism”; quote from p. 133, n. 25). These features are presented, in “the rabbinic imaginaire” as “antinomian scoffers” (p. 119). Here Hayes’s position is very close to my own argument: she asserts that the rabbinic representation of heretics on the question of realism and the law is grounded in a historical reality, which then became a standardized literary trope. However, I  cannot see an application of her suggestion in my specific case, since I believe the stories discussed in this book are a response to contemporaneous Christian claims, rather than a distant memory of past antinomism.

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I will attempt to prove that the way in which the biblical verses are employed at the center of some of these rabbi-heretic dialogues can be better understood when read in light of outside, non-rabbinic, literary material. When read through the lens of Christian writings, the Talmudic stories are both better comprehended, and show that the actual debate is not only centered around Jewish-Christian issues specifically but also around a broader argument found in nonrabbinic sources. When we read the specific biblical text at the center of the Talmudic dialogue as it was read in widely known discussions within Christianity, the Talmudic story no longer needs to be read solely as a reflection of Jewish-Christian polemic. Rather, I suggest viewing the Talmudic texts as intellectual exercises in which the rabbis ask: if we were to participate in this larger conversation, how would we respond? If we were to imagine ourselves as participants in this scriptural-theological discussions between Christian writers, how could we respond? I wish to offer a reading of these texts as historical, insofar as they represent actual debates concerning these exact biblical verses, but ahistorical, insofar as they do not reflect actual Jewish-Christian debates over these verses. These dialogues are “guided imagery” of sorts, discursive literary creations, in which the rabbis imagine playing a part in the wider discussions of the world in which they lived.76 Daniel Boyarin suggests that when the rabbis were arguing against Christian ideas, they were arguing against members of their own circles who were captivated by these Christian views. His position has merit, based on a few of the topics at the center of the Talmudic minim stories explored in this book.77 I will go as far as showing that some of the minim stories preserve evidence of their anxieties specifically about certain enticing Christian views, as evident in b. Ḥullin 87a. However, I agree with Schäfer’s criticism that Boyarin’s proposal is too broad, and has the potential to blur the boundaries between the two religious communities and their views.78 Instead I will read the minim stories as a rabbinic literary creation, intended for inner rabbinic debate, but grappling with external Christian readings of biblical verses. Some of these readings could be appealing and thus a threat to the boundary-making process. I believe

76 For literary interaction with a rabbinicized version of Christian views in Vaikra Rabba, see Holger M. Zellentin, Rabbinic Parodies of Jewish and Christian Literature (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 51–94. 77 Boyarin, Border Lines. 78 Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus, 5.

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regarding minim phraseology as part of a heresy-making discourse, while showing the process of boundary-making, prevents a blurring of the lines between some of these theological suggestions and their adherers. In other words, the heretic stories are part of a process of social boundary-making. They demonstrate an intersect between groups reading the biblical verses. However, not all of the stories fit into this category. For example, some of the stories argue the primacy of Israel, and the possible loss of God’s favor. I don’t believe these views can be understood as enticing to members of the rabbinic circle, and can be viewed as a threat that needed to be addressed as part of a polemical dialogue. Indeed, the methods of addressing these threats are part of that heresy discourse; but I don’t believe they should be viewed as motivated by only one possible scenario. The Talmudic Minim as the Final Stage in the Altering Use of the Term Reading these stories on the background of Christian writings, and understanding their place in the development of the minim literary genre, I refuse to view the Talmud’s stand on minim as reflecting “a historical situation that is a well-established and institutionalized corporate rabbinic community against whom competing ideologies represented a less prominent real threat and so to whom trenchant polemics were of decreasing importance.”79 Rather, I will demonstrate that the Talmudic minim stories are very much an indication of rabbinic awareness of contemporaneous Christian biblical discussions. They present the heretical view in broad strokes, and on central issues, but with surprising accuracy. One example, discussed in Chapter 6, is creating an alternative halakhic foundation for the ceremony of Ḥaliṣah based on the Christian reliance on the Ruth verses, which then serves as a better foundation for their allegorical use of the biblical theme. The creation of these stories does not point to “a less prominent real threat,” or “decreasing importance,” of the themes discussed, as suggested by Grossberg. Kalmin80 and Boyarin81 reached a similar conclusion, even when recognizing the Christian background of the minim stories. I believe their conclusions stem from their broad survey of the Talmudic minim stories and placing the Babylonian Talmud as the last step, considered to be “less authentic,” in the development 79 80 81

Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community, 91. Kalmin, “Christians and Heretics,” 160. Boyarin, Border Lines, 221.

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of the term minut. While Kalmin and Boyarin viewed the stories as part of the development of the term minim in all of rabbinic literature, Grossberg viewed the sources through the lens of “formation of the rabbis as a corporate group.” But all three scholars arrived at the Babylonian Talmud’s use of the trope only after comparing it to earlier stages. I think that if we attempt to look at the mini-corpuses within the Talmud, as I have done in this book, and focus on the unique use therein, a few things become clear. First, the stories represent a real and pressing engagement with the neighboring, contemporaneous, religious community of Christians. They betray knowledge, and the need to grapple with, Christian views and theological arguments. Second, the mini-corpus I discuss, as a whole, betrays a sense of anxiety about the rabbinic response. Most notably this is seen in the harsh tones of the conversation, and clearly also in stories such as b. Ḥullin 87a, where a rabbi fasts for three days to prevent the min from finding an answer to the rabbi’s response to his “foolish” question and celebrates his death before the end of that argument. Such a sense of anxiety does not signal the lessening of the threat, but simply a different type of engagement. Along the same lines, finding two Talmudic sources featuring a “good min,” does not suggest a transformation of the min into an “uncertain hybrid” who is sometimes good and sometimes bad.82 Rather, the sources show a remarkable nuanced familiarity with conflicting Christian theological views regarding the Holy Spirit. Even more surprisingly: they suggest an intersection for two theological views, as demonstrated in the following chapters. Therefore, I will not view the “minim” in the Talmudic stories as the final stage in the altering use of the term, but rather as one more nuanced use of the term, in light of its Christian background. Methodology While doing so I will try to avoid the preconceived notions of which Simon cautions us, for example, regarding the nature of Christian literary material known to the Talmudic composers (East and West, Syriac or Greek), or the level of acquaintance and exposure the Babylonian authors had of Christian traditions. Regarding the chronology of the texts: even Talmudic passages supposedly reporting early Palestinian rabbis will be read, when necessary, in light of later Christian sources, contemporary with the Talmudic

82

b. Ḥul. 87a; b. Avod. Zar. 6b. Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community, 90–91.

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text in which the passages are found. When dealing with passages suggested as tannaitic by the Babylonian Talmud, by means of the use of an introductory formula (‫ תניא‬for example), or by introducing tannaitic sages in the story, I take the following stance: I am willing to consider an early date for the origin of the story, but, on the other hand, refuse to assume an early date based only on these indications. The Babylonian Talmud reworks its sources in so many instances, to such a degree, until the early nucleus is significantly altered; I am therefore hesitant to accept the Talmud’s own testimony on the early nature of its quotes. I will not presuppose a later date for the context of the stories discussed in this book; however, I do believe that my reading of these passages in light of later Christian sources (such as the fourth-century Christian discussion of the nature of the Holy Spirit) is more convincing.83 A literary explanation of the late integration of early rabbinic figures in these stories, such as Rabbi Judah the Prince and Beruriah, is more productive than the assumption that these are an indication of the historical provenance of the stories. My methodology in working on the heretic narrative corpus is to position the verse cited by the min at the heart of my inquiry. In each case, I will examine the use and reception history of the verse, or the biblical motifs addressed in the verse, in Christian circles. When appropriate, I will then show how these Christian traditions stand at the heart of the rabbinic passage. The end result of my study suggests a Talmudic awareness of Christian readings of verses and biblical motifs, which differ from those of the rabbis. These stories are an inner rabbinic literary attempt to grapple with these views. These Christian views are evident in the New Testament, but also in later receptions of these texts, as well as later developments in Christian theology. I find Christian readings of biblical motifs such as Ḥaliṣah, side by side with references to the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection after three days, the use of Psalm 69:22 in the passion narrative and more. Still I find Marcel Simon’s summary accurate: Throughout the anti-Jewish literature three fundamental problems keep appearing at the very center of the debate: that of the rejection of Israel and the corresponding

83 On the reworking on the Babylonian Talmudic braitot see Shamma Friedman, “Le’ofyan shel habaraitot betalmud habavli,” in Yaakov Elman, Ephraim Bezalel Halivni and Zvi Arie Stienfeld (eds), Neti’ot Ledavid: Jubilee Volume for David Weiss Halivni (Jerusalem: Orÿot Press, 2004), 195–274.

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call of the gentiles; that of the law and its observance; and that of monotheism and Christology.84 The rejection of Israel is indeed a prime topic in my corpus of stories, as well as Christological questions, especially regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit. The Talmudic heretic narratives grapple with these topics as part of a boundary-making genre of literature, in which the authors know their opponents’ views. Similarly to Gregory, with whom we started this discussion, they call their heretics fools, but at the same time consider them dangerous. They mock them but reveal real anxiety regarding their views. Septuagint Version of the Verses In all the stories in my corpus, the verse at the heart of the passage is quoted according to its masoretic version. However, in the two cases of b. ‘Eruvin 101a and in b. Ḥullin 87a, I will argue that the rabbinic passage displays awareness of the verse version used by Western Christian writers, namely, the Septuagint version. While the rabbinic passages do not quote them, they seem to react to the Christian reliance on these versions. Since the rabbis only quote the masoretic version of the Bible, there is supposedly no direct evidence of Talmudic or rabbinic knowledge of other versions, including the Septuagint. However, scholars have noted that rabbinic passages sometimes betray knowledge of different biblical versions, and integrate them into their treatment of the verses, without explicitly quoting the variant version.85 In some cases, the rabbinic passages even rely on variants which accord with verses from the Septuagint for the interpretation they seek.86 This may also be the case with the corpus at hand. 84 Verus Israel, 187. We indeed have a more differentiated view of these topics with the works of Boyarin, Border Lines, and Zellentin, “The Rabbis.” 85 David Rosenthal, “Al Derekh Tippulam Shel Hazal BeHilufei Nusah BaMiqraʾ,” in Yair Zakovitz and Alexander Rofe (eds), Sefer Yitzhak Aryeh Zeligman (Jerusalem: E. Rubinstein, 1983), II, 395–417 [Hebrew]; Yeshayahu Maori, “Rabbinic Midrash as Evidence for Textual Variants in the Hebrew Bible: History and Practice,” in Shalom Carmy (ed.), Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996), 101–130. 86 See e.g. Menachem Kahana’s position on Legal Midrashim: “The primary relevance of these documents (Septuagint and other translations) for the study of the tannaitic midrashim lies in the non-masoretic biblical versions they represent, which occasionally confirm the biblical text underlying the Halakhic Midrarish.” Menachem Kahana, “The Halakhic Midrashim,” in Shmuel Safrai et al. (eds), The Literature of the Sages, II. Midrash and Targum, Liturgy, Poetry, Mysticism, Contracts, Inscriptions, Ancient Science and the Languages of Rabbinic Literature (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 2006), 55. See also p. 13.

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Let me add some background: the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible, originated in Egypt and was created over a period of approximately 400 years, starting from the third century BCE, by different authors.87 The Septuagint is named after the legend of its creation by a group of seventy or seventy-two elders, a legend found, among other sources, in the Babylonian Talmud itself.88 The Letter of Aristeas, in which this legend first appears,89 was written as an attempt to defend the text against those who wished to create a version closer to the original Hebrew; but later versions promote other aspects of the translation as well.90 The various versions of the legend list places in which the translation supposedly strays from the original Hebrew.91 However, the examples change from one version of the story to the other, and many of the examples do not correspond to the Septuagint text we currently know. Emanuel Tov suggested that “the biblical passages mentioned in the list of alterations reflect the original text of the LXX, while the archetype of all manuscripts known to us was corrected to MT.”92 Interestingly, the examples mentioned ignore many other differences between the Greek and the original Hebrew. Tov suggested that the list of examples was selected because they “pertain to some central issues.”93 Curiously, we find similar attempts by Christian writers to create lists of changes between the Hebrew and the Greek.94 87 Emanuel Tov, “The Septuagint,” in Mikra:  Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (Aassen: Van Gorcum/Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988), 161–188. There p. 162. 88 Abraham Wasserstein and David J.  Wasserstein, The Legend of the Septuagint: From Classical Antiquity to Today (New York: CUP, 2006). For a “cultural reading” of the differences between the versions of the legend, see Moshe Simon-Shoshan’s insightful article “The Tasks of the Translators:  The Rabbis, the Septuagint, and the Cultural Politics of Translation,” Prooftexts 27:1 (2007), 1–39. 89 Sidney Jellicoe, The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1968); Sylvie Honigman, The Septuagint and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria: A Study in the Narrative of the Letter of Aristeas (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). 90 Sebastian P.  Brock, “The Phenomenon of the Septuagint,” in The Witness of Tradition; Papers Read at the Joint British-Dutch Old Testament Conference Held at Woudschoten, 1970 (Leiden: Brill, 1972), 11–36, there p. 24. 91 Emanuel Tov, “The Rabbinic Tradition Concerning the ‘Alterations’ Inserted into the Greek Pentateuch and their Relation to the Original Text of the LXX,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 15 (1984), 65–89; Giuseppi Veltri, Eine Tora für den König Talmai: Untersuchungen zum Übersetzungsverständnis in der jüdischhellenistischen und rabbinischen Literature (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1994), 220–247. 92 Tov, “Rabbinic Tradition Concerning ‘Alterations,’” 76. Veltri disagrees, and proposes the changes reflect inner rabbinic exegesis. 93 Tov, “Rabbinic Tradition Concerning ‘Alterations,’” 83. 94 Pierre Benoit, “L’Inspiration des LXX d’après les Pères,” Mélanges H. de Lubac, I (Paris, 1963), 169–187.

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Initially the Septuagint was used by Jews, but by the end of the first century it was adopted by the Christians as their primary translation of the biblical verses. The New Testament quotes the Septuagint frequently, and these versions, sometimes different from the ones in the Masoretic text, serve as the foundation for some of its theological arguments.95 As a result, and despite the legend’s attempt to authorize its use, the rabbis turned away from the Septuagint.96 Scholars thus recognized a shift from early rabbinic literature and an “embrace of universalism and translation” to a later “distancing,” and “growing resistance to translation.”97 Once such a stand was taken against the Septuagint, we find statements such as the following quote from Massekhet Soferim 1:7, describing the translation of the Torah into Greek: ‫ והיה היום‬.‫מעשה בחמשה זקנים שכתבו לתלמי המלך את התורה יוונית‬ ‫ שלא הייתה התורה יכולה להתרגם‬.‫קשה לישר' כיום שנעשה בו העגל‬ .‫כל צרכה‬ It happened that five elders translated the Pentateuch into Greek for King Ptolemy. That day was as hard for Israel as the day the calf was made, because the Pentateuch could not be translated properly.98 The miracle of the translation described in the Letter of Aristeas, is now compared in severity to the day of the Golden Calf, and the Septuagint is thus proclaimed incompetent as a translation of the Torah. Naomi Seidman emphasized that the “equivalence-value of a particular translation is a matter of faith.” With regard to the Septuagint she writes: In the case of translations that cross religious boundaries, where translators render texts of another religion or where

95

Tov, “The Septuagint,” 163. This view was rejected by Veltri, Eine Tora, who claims that rabbinic sources do not contain explicit information on the acceptance or rejection of the LXX. Emanuel Tov in response argues that the process of rejection started well before the Christian adoption of the translation, Emanuel Tov, “Review of Eine Tora für den König Talmai,” Scripta Classica Israelica 14 (1995), 178–183. 97 Naomi Seidman, Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2006), 25; Marc Hirshman, Torah for All Humankind (Jerusalem:  Magnes, 1999)  [Hebrew]; Marc Hirshman, “Rabbinic Universalism in the Second and Third Centuries,” Harvard Theological Review 93 (2000), 101–115; Azzan Yadin, “The Hammer on the Rock: Polysemy and the School of Rabbi Ishmael,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 10 (2003), 1–17. 98 On this text see Simon-Shoshan, “Tasks of the Translators,” 24–25. 96

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity one “faith community” adopts a translation composed by translators affiliated with a rival group, the stakes multiply. It is just such a fraught contest that stands behind the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, which has often been described as the first great translation project in the West.99

Seidman shows how arguments such as the one regarding Mary’s virginity relied heavily on the Septuagint version of Isaiah 7:14, making the translation itself, as well as its status, into a bone of contention at the heart of both rival groups.100 Moshe Simon-Shoshan emphasizes the high price of a cultural and political clash due to a translation: “Translation is a linchpin in the network of power relations that exist between dominant and subservient cultures; it can serve both as a means of the dominant culture to impose itself on the subservient culture as well as a mode of resistance by the subservient culture against the dominant hegemony.”101 Simon-Shoshan reads the Talmudic description of the translation straying from the original text as the rabbinic attempt to use their Hebrew knowledge to “gain the upper hand” on the dominant culture. He even suggests that the catastrophe described in Massekhet Soferim “may well be a direct response to the Christian use of the Septuagint and the Septuagint legend.”102 A revealing text of this power dynamic is found in Pesiqta Rabbati: ‫ "ביקש משה שתהא המשנה בכתב וצפה הקדוש‬:‫אמר רבי יהודה ברבי שלום‬ ‫ברוך הוא שהאומות עתידין לתרגם את התורה ולהיות קוראים בו יוונית‬ ‫ 'הא משה עתידין האומות‬:‫' אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא‬.‫ 'אנו הם ישראל‬:‫ואומרים‬ ‫" ועד עכשיו המאוזנים‬.‫ אנו הם בניו של מקום‬,‫להיות אומרים "אנו הם ישראל‬ ‫ 'מה אתם אומרים שאתם בניי? איני‬:‫' אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לאומות‬.‫מעויינין‬ '?‫ 'ומה הם מסטירין שלך‬:‫' אמרו לו‬.‫יודע אלא מי שמסטירין שלי בידו הוא בני‬ "'.‫ 'זו משנה‬:‫אמר להם‬ Rabbi Yehudah berabi Shalom said: “Moses requested that the Mishnah be in writing. But the Holy One, Blessed Be He, foresaw that the nations would translate the Torah and would be reading it in Greek and would be saying: ‘We are Israel!’ The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to him: ‘Behold! 99

Seidman, Faithful Renderings, 38. Seidman, Faithful Renderings, 44. 101 “Tasks of the Translators,” 3. 102 “Tasks of the Translators,” 25. 100

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Moses! In the future the nations will be saying, “We are Israel; we are sons of God.” [And Israel will be saying, “We are sons of God.”] And until now the scales are balanced.’ The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to the nations: ‘What is this that you are saying? That you are my sons? I do not know. But he who possess my Mystery (mistirin), he is my son.’ They said to him: ‘And what is your Mystery?’ He replied to them: ‘It is the Mishnah.’”103 This later text, dated by scholars to anywhere from the fifth to the ninth century,104 explicitly describes the use the Christian authors were making of certain biblical verses to claim, “we are Israel.” This use is made possible by the Septuagint: the story there demonstrates the threateningly easy access Christians have to the biblical verses.105 It also shows a familiarity with these hermeneutical moves by contemporaneous Christians. Some of the arguments made by the Christians are based on the biblical verses, simply made accessible by their translation into Greek in the Septuagint. But others were made on the basis of a different version contained therein. The author of the text could just as well have been referring to these alternative verses. The stories examined in this book present a rabbinic answer to Christian theological claims based on readings of biblical verses and motifs. Some of these grapple with the “we are Israel” argument. In the case of b. Yevamot 102b the rabbis respond to

103 Pesiqta Rabbati 5. Hebrew taken from Marc Bregman, “Mishna kemistirin,” in Yaakov Sussmann and David Rosenthal (eds), Mehqerei Talmud:  Talmudic Studies Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Ephriam E. Urbach, III:1 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2005), 101–109, and the English from Marc Bregman, “Mishnah and LXX as Mystery:  An Example of Jewish-Christian Polemic in the Byzantine Period,” in Lee I. Levine (ed.), Continuity and Renewal: Jews and Judaism in Byzantine Palestine (Jerusalem:  Dinur Center for Jewish History, 2004), 333–342. See Simon-Shoshan, “Tasks of the Translators,” 26–28. Marc Hirshman and others read even earlier texts in light of this later one, although the earlier texts do not mention Christianity. Marc G. Hirshman, A Rivalry of Genius: Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995), 17. See also Saul Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Literary Transmission, Beliefs and Manners of Palestine in the I Century B.C.E.–IV Century C.E. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1962), 206–207. 104 Hermann L. Strack and Günter Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 299–302; and Bregman in both articles. 105 Of course, this claim was not made solely on the basis of the Septuagint. Other Christian communities claim to be the “true Israel,” as evident in the Didascalia, e.g. Holger M. Zellentin, The Qurʼān’s Legal Culture: The Didascalia Apostolorum as a Point of Departure (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 163–164.

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Christian allegorical readings of the legal act of Ḥaliṣah, as an act of God’s separation from his people, while disputing the halakhic basis of the Christian argument. In b. Berakhot 10a it is the reading of Isaiah 54:1 by Christian writers. In two cases, b. Ḥullin 87a and b. ‘Eruvin 101a, the rabbinic polemics against the Christian argument is based on knowledge of the Septuagint version of the verses (Micah 7:4 and Amos 4:13, although in the case of Amos, the focus is not about the identity of the real Israel, but rather a different theological argument). The minim stories thus present a faith-community’s response to a translation that threatens its faith foundation, a response to a heretical claim, as part of a boundarymaking, literary response. This is a substantial facet of a cultural and political struggle. But the stories also give us a possible, additional glimpse into the exposure rabbinic authors had to the non-Jewish world around them. If my readings are convincing, the rabbinic passages simultaneously show polemics against, as well as acquaintance with, Christian interpretations and discussions about scripture, and knowledge of the different Septuagint versions used by the Christians. If we accept Dov Weiss’s dating of the Pesiqta Rabbati to the sixth–seventh century CE in Palestine, we might even be facing a text contemporaneous with the Babylonian Talmud, in a corpus which shows similar literary features testifying to a cultural cross-fertilization between Palestine and Babylonia.106 In this case, the Pesiqta text may be openly revealing the identity of the text upon which the anonymous Talmudic heretics were basing their arguments: the Septuagint version used by the Christians. Lastly, a recent suggestion by Richard Kalmin examines the Septuagint legend as it appears in the Babylonian Talmud.107 He argues that the sources of this version came from Syriac translations from the Christian Mesopotamian community. The Babylonian Talmud’s version of the Septuagint legend, therefore, is in itself “additional evidence for the existence of a cultural connection between the Jewish and Christian communities of late antique Mesopotamia.”108

106 Dov Weiss, Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), 11–14 and 85. 107 Kalmin, Migrating Tales, chapter 3. 108 Kalmin, Migrating Tales, 94.

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Transmission of Christian Traditions into the Rabbinic Talmud Regarding the method of transmission of these Christian traditions into the rabbinic Talmud: how did the rabbinic authors know about Christian traditions? I ascribe to the folkloristic ethnographic dialogic approach, “a textual practice which is foremostly rooted in oral presentation, and it represents a constant dialogue and dynamics between the oral and the written forms of expression.”109 This is important to emphasize: I do not deny the possibility of Christian written texts falling into the hands of the rabbinic authors. Nor do I deny the attractive possibility of meetings between Christian and Jews in Babylonia over the course of the formation of the Babylonian Talmud. The simple comparison between the maps of Jewish and Christian populations in the Persian Empire must allow for such possibilities.110 Moreover, Talmudic passages discussing the handling of Christian gospels, such as b. Shabbat 116a– b, clearly suggest that at least some had access to the Gospels, as pointed out by Holger Zellentin.111 109 Galit Hasan-Rokem, “Narratives in Dialogue: A Folk Literary Perspective on Interreligious Contacts in the Holy Land in Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity,” in Arieh Kofsky et al. (eds), Sharing the Sacred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the Holy Land, First–Fifteenth Centuries CE (Jerusalem:  Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1998), 109–129. For her use of the concept of ecotype, and ecotypal formation of tale-types, see most recently in Hasan-Rokem, “Ecotypes:  Theory of the Lived and Narrated Experience,” Narrative Culture 3:1 (2016), article 6. 110 For Christian settlements see the map in Florence Jullien (ed.), Le monachisme syriaque (Paris:  Geuthner, 2010), 11. For a map of Jewish Babylonia see Isaiah M. Gafni, “The Political, Social, and Economic History of Babylonian Jewry, 224– 638 CE,” in Steven T.  Katz (ed.), The Cambridge History of Judaism, IV, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period (Cambridge: CUP, 2008), 15. 111 Holger M. Zellentin, Rabbinic Parodies of Jewish and Christian Literature (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 137–166. A similar claim is voiced by Teppler, Birkat haMinim, 250– 277. On this passage see also Shamma Friedman, “The Holy Scriptures Defile the Hands – the Transformation of a Biblical Concept in Rabbinic Theology,” in Marc Brettler and Michael Fishbane (eds), Minhah le-Nahum: Biblical and Other Studies Presented to Nahum M. Sarna in Honour of His 70th Birthday (Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Press, 1993), 117– 132, and bibliography mentioned in Zellentin, Rabbinic Parodies, 151, n. 33. Shlomo Pines, “Notes on the Parallelism between Syriac Terminology and Mishnaic Hebrew,” in Yaakov Friedman Memorial Volume (Jerusalem: Institute for Jewish Studies, 1974), 206– 209 [Hebrew], suggested (hesitantly!) based on Syriac parallels, that the term ‫ גליון‬originally meant apocalyptic writings, e.g. m. Yadayim 3.5, m. Shabbat 16.1 and t. Yadayim 2.13. However, the Babylonian Talmud, already familiar with the Christian gospels, understood it to mean εὐαγγέλιον, a use found also in Syriac writings. Teppler, Birkat haMinim, reaches a similar conclusion when distinguishing between the ‫ גליון‬and the books of the minim mentioned in the various versions of the tradition.

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An additional oft-neglected possibility112 that is certainly worthy of consideration is that the information about Christian traditions in the New Testament may have become known to the rabbis through Christian liturgical processions. Processions (πομπαί) were “a vital part of ancient festival culture.”113 These emerged in early Christian communities even before the Council of Nicaea (325) but became more prominent later, practiced on occasions of natural disasters and wars, but more importantly, incorporated into celebrations such as Easter and Christmas.114 Scholars have interpreted the swift development of Christian public liturgical practices in the fourth century, in the context of non-Christian festivals, and as natural consequence of reaction and mimicry of the public nature of the latter.115 Affixed lists of biblical readings “fit the right text to the right moment” and lections from the Gospels “narrated the events celebrated” in major festivals.116 Pilgrims to Jerusalem, such as fourthcentury Egeria, tell of festivals with processional movement: in the Golgotha space and the outlying churches, the Nativity church in Bethlehem, the Lazareum in Bethany, the church of Zion, and the church and the other holy places on the Mount of Olives.117 Relevant 112 One exception is the later development of rabbinic traditions regarding the Temple vessels, and bearing similarities to Christian festivals and the cult of relics, which was suggested as a possibility in Steven Fraade, “The Temple as a Marker of Jewish Identity Before and After 70 CE:  The Role of the Holy Vessels in Rabbinic Memory and Imagination,” in Lee I.  Levine and Daniel R.  Schwartz (eds), Jewish Identities in Antiquity:  Studies in Memory of Menahem Stern (Tübingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 237–265, and from another angle by Ra’anan Boustan, “The Spoils of the Jerusalem Temple at Rome and Constantinople:  Jewish Counter-Geography in a Christianizing Empire,” in Gregg Gardner and Kevin Osterloh (eds), Antiquity in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Pasts in the Greco-Roman World (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 327–372. While Fraade avoids determining for certain Christian influence on Jewish traditions, Boustan recognizes deployment of Christian idioms, but emphasizes the “ambivalent and often ironic forms of mimicry” evident in this case. Zellentin, “The Rabbis,” 338, also suggested that the Palestinian Talmud’s treatment of a reference to passing by a procession of an idol (‘Avodah Zarah 43b), is a testimony to familiarity with Christian processions. And see there also pp. 349–351. 113 Fritz Graf, Roman Festivals in the Greek East:  From the Early Empire to the Middle Byzantine Era (Cambridge: CUP, 2015), chapter 1, 11–60. 114 For a survey see the following entries and bibliography references in Everett Ferguson (ed.), Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (London: Routledge, 2016): George D. Dragas, “Litany,” 682; Grant Sperry-White, “Processions,” 950–951. 115 See John Francis Baldovin, Liturgy in Ancient Jerusalem (Nottingham: Grove Books, 1989), 234–238, and Graf, Roman Festivals, chapter 9, 226–238, and references at p. 228, n. 10. 116 Derek Krueger, Liturgical Subjects: Christian Ritual, Biblical Narrative, and the Formation of the Self in Byzantium (Philadelphia: PENN/University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 25. 117 Summary of Egeria’s description is taken from Graf, Roman Festivals, 234.

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passages were read where the events were believed to have taken place (mimetic processions, imitating Jesus’ actions). In other places, they were read in the churches or outside, in the public sphere, during processions. Most importantly for the information gleaned from the b. Ḥullin 87a story, passion narratives from all four Gospels were read on the Friday leading up to Easter.118 Such public readings might explain details known to the rabbis about Jesus’ death,119 for example: his resurrection after three days, or even the use of Psalms 69:22: “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” in passages such as John 19:28– 30, which were read as part of the ceremony.120 These wellattended public processions, with their special street lights, city gates entrance and other festive features, like their predecessors in the ancient world, “took over the city space and presented the celebrating group to the town.”121 Thus, the composers of the Babylonian Talmud could potentially have been aware of central New Testament passages through their public readings in processions on specific days of the liturgical cycle. The information could have arrived from the Land of Israel, or perhaps through the significant influence the Jerusalem liturgy had on the East. While the question how many of these Jerusalem practices were “imitated” elsewhere in the Christian world is under debate, Good Friday liturgy seems to have included similarly appropriate passages, as well as public venerations of the cross and other relics.122 One implicit witness to this influence is the

118 See e.g. the lections mentioned in Georgian lectionaries. Michel Tarchnischvili (ed.), Le grand lectionnaire de l’église de Jérusalem (Ve–VIIIe siècle), 4  vols. (Leuven:  Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, 1959–60), there, lections 686, 690, 694, 698, referenced in Krueger, Liturgical Subjects, 227, n. 78. On Easter in the early church see: Raniero Cantalamessa, Easter in the Early Church, trans. James M. Quigley and Joseph T. Lienhard (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), and Matias Augé, “The Liturgical Year in the First Four Centuries,” in Handbook for Liturgical Studies, V (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), 146–153 and references there on p. 155. 119 Similarly, Holger Zellentin, “Typology and the Transfiguration of Rabbi Aqiva (Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 4:7 and b. Menaḥot 29b),” JSQ 25 (2018), 226–239, suggested in passing that public readings of Ephrem’s memre might have made the transfiguration known to the rabbis. 120 “Then, when three o’clock comes, they have the reading from St. John’s Gospel about Jesus giving up the ghost, and, when that has been read, there is a prayer, and the dismissal.” Egeria, ltinerarium 37.7; English trans. from John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1999), 156. 121 Graf, Roman Festivals, 236. 122 See Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011), 64–65. More on the Jerusalem Liturgy and its influence after the seventh century, see Daniel Galadza, Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem (Oxford and New York: OUP, 2018).

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Georgian and Armenian Lectionaries, which are generally regarded as reflecting fourth-century Jerusalem readings.123 However, due to the infamous sparsity of information when it comes to the historical realia in Jewish Talmudic Babylonia, I do not wish to limit myself to these transmission possibilities. Instead, I suggest we consider all of these alongside oral transmission of traditions between cultures, and as a result, the oral nature of these materials. Orality and Secondary Orality Recent studies, such as Galit Hasan-Rokem, Martin Jaffee124 Liz Alexander125 and David Nelson,126 have demonstrated the benefits of considering the oral nature of rabbinic materials. For my research, in addition to a better understanding of the formulation, fluidity and evolution of the text, they offer a better understanding of the interplay of orality and writing in the interaction with non-rabbinic traditions. The creation of these traditions involved “both written and oral modes of composition … a dynamic process in which orality and textuality were closely interrelated.”127 The more nuanced concept of “secondary orality” in which “written word leads to new forms of orality”128 seems useful as well.129 Walter Ong wrote about a culture in which written texts alongside “telephone, radio, television and various kinds of sound tape, electronic technology” are used side by side, and create an age of “new orality.”130 Scholars such as Matthias Henze use this concept to understand Second Temple literature in which “the written text

123 Krueger, Liturgical Subjects, 25. I am truly grateful to Andrew McGowan for discussing this point with me and referring me to some of the references already listed. 124 Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism, 200 BCE–400 CE (Oxford: OUP, 2001). 125 Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Transmitting Mishnah: The Shaping Influence of Oral Tradition (New York: CUP, 2006); “The Orality of Rabbinic Writing,” in Martin S. Jaffee and Charlotte Fonrobert (eds), Cambridge Companion to Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 2007), 38–57. 126 David W.  Nelson, “Orality and Mnemonics in Aggadic Midrash,” in Lieve M. Teugels and Rivka Ulmer (eds), Midrash and Context (Proceedings of the 2004 and 2005 SBL Consultation on Midrash) (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2007), 123–138. 127 Matthias Henze, “4 Ezra and 2 Baruch:  Literary Composition and Oral Performance in First-Century Apocalyptic Literature,” JBL 131 (2012), 181–200. 128 Henze, “4 Ezra and 2 Baruch,” 183, n. 6. 129 I am grateful to Larry Welborn for discussing this with me. 130 Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London: Methuen, 1982), 133.

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engendered new forms of oral performance, as the recorded words were orally reactivated, revised according to new situations, and recorded anew.”131 Laurence Welborn used it to explain the creation of common features between New Testament and Paulinian texts (Acts 9:23– 25 and 2 Cor 11:32– 33).132 Al Baumgarten goes further and utilizes this aspect of rabbinic literature to explain why it is different from earlier Second Temple culture: the coherence such an oral culture encourages “reflects accurately the character of the world of the Rabbis, where disputes exist but in which these disputes never lead to the formation of splinter groups … inherently connected with the ability of the scholars of that era to agree to disagree.”133 Even more interesting is the possibility of combining the emphasis of secondary orality with the application of ritual approaches. The study of the transmission of the Jesus traditions was suggested as a good test case for such an approach by Risto Uro.134 He describes the cultural world in which the versions of the Gospels were an “oral retelling of a tradition, irrespective of whether a literary source is used or not,” and offers that scholarship considers ritual to have had an important role in the process of formulating the Gospel traditions we now possess. He emphasizes that “In ancient literary activity, orality and literacy were intertwined with each other in a way which is hard for us to imagine.”135 If we consider the possibility of public ritual as one of the ways in which rabbinic authors learned about contemporaneous Christianity, and, in turn, consider the production of a boundary-making, heretic story as a literary response by the rabbinic culture which is itself a product of the oral and the written intertwined, then we can begin to fathom how limited is our understanding of the ways in which the two communities interacted. Taking all of this into consideration, when discussing specifically the minim stories, and their very clear literary nature, I cannot escape the conclusion that these were not meant to convey a retelling of actual meetings between members of the two religious communities. They were meant to be understood as an inner rabbinic literary

131

Henze, “4 Ezra and 2 Baruch,” 183. Laurence L. Welborn, “Paul’s Flight from Damascus: Sources and Evidence for an Historical Evaluation,” in Alf Oezen (ed.), Historische Wahrheit und theologische Wissenschaft (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996), 41–60. 133 Albert I. Baumgarten, The Flourishing of Jewish Sects in the Maccabean Era: An Interpretation (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1997), 134–135. 134 Risto Uro, “Ritual, Memory and Writing in Early Christianity,” Temenos 47:2 (2011), 159–182. 135 Uro, “Ritual, Memory and Writing,” 167. 132

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response to contemporary Christian discussions over scripture, within the cultural atmosphere that combined literacy and oral performances of texts. I view them as a literary response to actual Christian claims. And while the ways in which these Christian traditions became known to the Babylonian rabbis were probably varied and diverse, the rabbinic response we turn to examine, as well as the ways in which we approach the Christian argument, is formulated as a literary one. Constructing History from Texts In other words, despite my preference to avoid proving that a weekly ḥavruta (joint learning session) took place between Christian and Jews every Wednesday in downtown Mahoza, I cannot ignore the need to discuss possible means of transference of traditions. I simply believe that the answer to the question of transference of traditions must be given “from the end to the beginning” and not the other way around; we can only discuss the transmission route of certain traditions after we have mapped out what the literary traditions tells us about the rabbinic knowledge of these traditions. Since we know so little about the history of the writers of these traditions, the text, in this case, must tell us about its history, and not the other way around. Our historical assumptions must be challenged, repeatedly, by what we find in the texts themselves. And since scholarship is only beginning to learn more about Jewish-Christian relations as they are revealed in the Babylonian Talmud, we must be open-minded and vigilant with regard to their descriptions. Another example of such an underlying assumption in scholarship is that there is a need to prove a geographical connection between the Christian traditions and those found in the Babylonian Talmud. If there is a literary connection, it should be to the Christian traditions transmitted in Syriac, the Aramaic dialect that is close to that of Babylonian Aramaic. I have, indeed, dedicated an entire chapter to the Syriac translations of the Apophthegmata Patrum, from Greek and Coptic in the East, so that we may examine the possible connection between these monastic traditions and those in the Babylonian Talmud.136 But in this book, and in the minim stories I examine, I wish to rethink this assumption. Everything we know about the transmission of traditions between the Land of Israel and Babylonia demonstrates the ease and frequency with which traditions were being passed from the West to the East. The 136

Early Christian Monastic Tradition and the Babylonian Talmud, 35–63.

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basic structure of many, if not all, the sugyot in both Talmuds, testifies to a continual scholarly relationship between the centers. What we know about the activity of the Naḥote (rabbis who traveled back and forth between Israel and Babylonia) points to constant contact between the two communities, and the transfer of traditions between the two geographical areas.137 Material support for such contacts is also found in burial epitaphs and Greek inscriptions,138 coins, seals, jewelry, glass and pottery.139 In addition, the “vast common market” within the Roman Empire and economic activity along the silk road provided “conditions favorable to commerce”140 inside and out of the vast borders of the Roman Empire. Scholars have noted the ease with which the elite were able to travel, and documents, monuments and archeological finds support the reality of frequent travel by farmers and soldiers, in known, and less known parts of the world, between the western and eastern parts of the empire, and beyond.141 The roads in Persia were known to be “very well organized, with posting stations at regular intervals.”142 New and better maps later in late antiquity show routes between the Roman Empire all the way to the East.143 Consider “The Peutinger map” which describes 104,000 km of central roads, staging posts, spas, rivers and forests.144 Those routes were part 137 See sources collected in Zeʿev Safrai and Aren M.  Maeir, “ ‘An Epistle Came from the West’:  Historical and Archaeological Evidence for the Ties between the Jewish Communities in the Land of Israel and Babylonia during the Talmudic Period,” Jewish Quarterly Review 93 (2003), 497–531. I am grateful to Simcha Gross for this reference. 138 See Safrai and Maeir, “Epistle,” 517. 139 Safrai and Maeir, “Epistle,” 521–531. 140 For the ease of commerce within the vast Roman Empire and with its neighbors see: Arnold H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Study, II (Oxford: OUP, 1964), chapter 21: “Industry, Trade and Transport,” 824–872, and references therein. 141 See e.g. the collection of articles in Colin Adams and Ray Laurence (eds), Travel and Geography in the Roman Empire (London; New York: Routledge, 2001). 142 As previously described by Herodotus in his History 5.52–54. Quote from Germaine Aujac, “The Growth of an Empirical Cartography in Hellenistic Greece,” in John B. Harley and David A. Woodward (eds), The History of Cartography, I, Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1987), 149, and “The Foundations of Theoretical Cartography in Archaic and Classical Greece,” 135 and there n. 24. 143 Oswald A. W. Dilke, “Itineraries and Geographical Maps in the Early and Late Roman Empires,” in John B. Harley and David A. Woodward (eds), The History of Cartography, I, Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 234–257. 144 Dilke, “Itineraries,” 238. See also the land itinerary Stathmoì Parthikoí produced in the first century by Isidore of Charax, Benet Salway, “Travel, Itineraria and Tabellaria,” in Travel and Geography, 26.

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of a system of “empire-wide communication,” called the imperial post, based on earlier state communication systems (mentioned by Herodotus for the part that belongs to Persia).145 While the Roman Empire enjoyed geographical advantages that enabled a more stable economy, thanks to the Mediterranean Sea – advantages that the Persian Empire lacked (mainly due to its mountain ridges), the two empires still conducted trade in Sassanian times, in silk,146 iron147 and even exotic animals.148 Significantly, Christianity spread throughout Mesopotamia via the major trade routes.149 In addition to voluntary migration into the Persian Empire, there may have been Christians among the captives deported in the third and fourth century.150 Findings concerning Hellenistic parallels in the Babylonian Talmud support picturing the cultural world in which the Talmud was created as far more connected to Western sources than we allow when discussing Christian traditions. Shaye Cohen demonstrated parallels between philosophical school traditions and the Babylonian Talmud that were absent from Palestinian sources, suggesting that 145 Colin Adams, “ ‘There and Back Again’: Getting around in Roman Egypt,” in Adams and Laurence, Travel and Geography, 140. 146 See e.g. Manfred  G. Raschke, “New Studies in Roman Commerce with the East,” ANRW 2.9.2 (Berlin, 1976), 604–1361, and Marlia Mundell Mango, “Byzantine Maritime Trade with the East,” Aram 8 (1996), 139–163. See Moshe Beer, Amora’ei Bavel: Peraqim be-Hayei ha-Kalkalah (Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University, 1975), 180– 191, and Safrai and Maeir, “Epistle,” 518–519. 147 Joseph Bodenheimer and Beno  Rothenberg, “High-Tech in Talmudic Times: Iron,” JCT Perspective-Magazine of the Jerusalem College of Technology 2/2 (1996), 10–11; Dan Levene and Beno Rothenberg, “Early Evidence for Steelmaking in the Judaic Sources,” JQR 92 (2001), 122–125. 148 Safrai and Maeir, “Epistle,” 519–520. 149 Christelle Jullien and Florence Jullien, “Porteurs de salut: Apôtre et marchand dans l’empire iranien,” PdO 26 (2001), 127–143; Amir Harrak, “Trade Routes and the Christianization of the Near East,” Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies 2 (2002), 46–61; See also Marie Louise Chaumont, La christianisation de l’empire iranien:  Des origines aux grandes persecutions du IVe siecle (Leuven:  Peeters, 1988); Nathanael J. Andrade, The Journey of Christianity to India in Late Antiquity: Networks and the Movement of Culture (Cambridge, United Kingdom; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 139–206. 150 Samuel N. C. Lieu, “Captives, Refugees and Exiles: A Study of Cross-Frontier Civilian Movements and Contacts between Rome and Persia from Valerian to Jovian,” in Philip Freeman and David Kennedy (eds) The Defence of the Roman and Byzantine East, II (Oxford:  BAR International Editions, 1986), 475–505. Conversely, see Michael G. Morony, “Population Transfers between Sasanian Iran and the Byzantine Empire,” in Gherardo Gnoli and Antonio Panaino (eds), La Persia e Bisanzio: Atti del Convegno internazionale (Roma, 14–18 Ottobre 2002) (Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004), 167–169, who estimates that only a small part of these captives were Christians. See also Kyle Smith, Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia: Martyrdom and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2016), 129–131.

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“Perhaps then the parallels between patriarchs and scholarchs tell us more about the Hellenization of Babylonian Jewry in the fourth and fifth centuries than about the Hellenization of Palestinian Jewry in the second.”151 Along those same lines, Richard Hidary recently showed how rabbinic literature adapted aspects of the Hellenistic rhetorical tradition while resisting extreme elements of rhetorical relativism.152 The finding of Dimitri Gutas regarding the Arabic translation movement in Baghdad in the eighth century, of mainly non-literary and non-historical secular Greek books, supports, from a different angle, the picture of a cultural world nurturing movement from West to East.153 Specifically with regards to Western Christian traditions, scholars such as Richard Kalmin have greatly advanced the evidence of them entering the Babylonian Talmud, most possibly through eastern Roman provinces, thanks in large part to deportations into the Sassanian Empire around the fourth century.154 Daniel Boyarin also called for the need “to [look] to the west and the Greco-Roman Christian world in order to understand the culture of the Babylonian Talmud.”155 He uses examples for Hellenistic influence to reach a conclusion about “cultural interdependence between the Sasanian East and the Byzantine West in late antiquity,” allowing him to “read the Bavli within the context of literary and cultural moves taking place in that broader context.”156 Such claims rely on viewing these parallels as a result of an oral culture in which traditions transfer in various ways, and is not dependent on a claim of familiarity with languages or certain written texts. I follow in the footsteps of these scholars in arguing for reading at least a few of the minim stories that I examine in light of Western Christian traditions. I would like to emphasize that I do not dismiss the differences between Byzantine and Syriac Christian cultures. Clearly these Christian worlds share and differ in many aspects. I am 151 Shaye J. D. Cohen, “Patriarchs and Scholarchs Proceedings,” American Academy for Jewish Research 48 (1981), 57–85, there p. 85. 152 Richard Hidary, Rabbis and Classical Rhetoric: Sophistic Education and Oratory in the Talmud and Midrash (Cambridge: CUP, 2018). 153 Dimitri Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture:  The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ‘Abbasaid Society (2nd–4th/5th–10th c.) (New York: Routledge, 1998). 154 Migrating Tales. See also his book, Jewish Babylonia between Persia and Roman Palestine (Oxford; New York: OUP, 2006). 155 Boyarin, “Hellenism in Jewish Babylonia,” 350. 156 Boyarin, Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 181 and 133–192.

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not positing a fusion of “all things Christian.” Far from it. I am simply suggesting that we consider the possibility that Western Christian traditions did occasionally permeate the Syriac world in which the Babylonian Talmud was geographically created. I will argue that exact parallels do not always have to be demonstrated in contemporaneous Syriac writings in order to understand the Christian argument addressed in the rabbinic passage. Western traditions, from the Eastern parts of the Roman Empire, and even from Latin writers, could have been known to the Talmudic authors. The texts will thus indicate the historical circumstances that led to their creation. Having said all that, and I strongly believe this needs to be said and seriously considered, I still dedicate some time in the third chapter, to demonstrate the very clear possibility of Syriac channels of transmission for these Western traditions through Cyril of Alexandria, Basil of Caesarea and Ambrose of Milan. As I shall show, these writers were very possibly known in Syriac. For example, many of Basil of Caesarea’s Greek writings were translated into Syriac, starting from the fifth century. These Christian traditions, whether from Western or Eastern provenances, or from local Babylonian reception, are the background for a group of stories about encounters between minim and rabbinic figures, as I will demonstrate in the following chapters. When read side by side, the texts have the potential to illuminate the rabbinic passages, and shed light on the Jewish-Christian interactions present in the Babylonian Talmud.

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2 “A FOOL YOU CALL ME?”: ON INSULT AND FOLLY IN LATE ANTIQUITY

The Talmudic stories involving minim discussed in this book were selected because they share a common literary structure: (1) a min asks a question or makes a claim about a biblical verse, which appears to be easily refuted; (2) the rabbinic figure answers, ridiculing the min and demonstrating his basic misunderstanding of the biblical verse. In each of the stories, the rabbi’s reply to the min includes the insult, “fool” (‫)שטיא‬. In this chapter, I will examine the use of the term “fool” in Second Temple literature, the New Testament and patristic writings, in order to illuminate the semantic field of this term. This semantic field, I will claim, intimates an accusation concerning the proper understanding of scripture. My analysis will demonstrate that the insult “fool” (Heb. shoṭe; Aram. shatya) overlaps with the terms “empty one” (reqa) and “hypocrite.” The adjective “empty” (‫ריק‬, or its equivalent ‫)חלק‬, and its opposite, can allude to the “fullness” or “emptiness” of one’s understanding of scripture. The insult “fool,” therefore, in the min stories I examine, does not merely demean the heretic’s mental capabilities, but carries a more specific meaning in the Talmudic context. Calling someone a “fool” was understood as a grave insult pertaining specifically to the misunderstanding of scripture. Thus, calling someone a “fool” is not surprising specifically in stories about heretics. This term is yet another important part of the late antique heresy-making discourse.

“Fool” in the New Testament In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus famously announces that he has not come “to abolish the law or the prophets,” but rather “to fulfill” the law (Matt 5:17). According to this literary depiction, his contemporaries, the scribes and Pharisees, were not doing it right. 43

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Jesus, therefore, asks that his listeners exceed their righteousness.1 He provides several examples to illustrate his point, calling for a “shift from a casuistic criminal law to a moral rule.”2 He warns that the sin of adultery begins with a lustful look and urges his followers to avoid swearing oaths. Jesus’ first example, however, addresses insults to others (Matt 5:22):3 You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.”4 But I say to you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister5 is liable to judgment. Whoever says to his brother or sister, “Raka” (Ῥακά), is liable to the council (συνεδρίῳ).6 Whoever says, “Fool!” (Μωρέ) is liable to the hell of fire (γέενναν).7 In this verse, and its broader context within the Sermon (Matt 5:21– 26), Jesus discusses anger, particularly between brothers, and he “demands an end to anger and hateful speech.”8 One who insults one’s brother or sister9 is deemed by Jesus to be equivalent to a

1 On the various ways to treat the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount in relation to the Pharisaic laws, see Herbert W. Basser, The Gospel of Matthew and Judaic Traditions: A Relevance-Based Commentary (Boston: Brill, 2015), 113–119. 2 Hans Dieter Betz, The Sermon on the Mount: A Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, Including the Sermon on the Plain (Matthew 5:3–7:27 and Luke 6:20–49), Adela Yarbro Collins (ed.) (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 219. 3 A source-critical examination of the antitheses (Matt 5:21–48) reveals several different units. Scholars have focused on the different sections of verse 22. See Ulrich Luz, Matthew: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), I, 233–234. 4 Exod 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16. See also Exod 21:12; Lev 24:17. 5 Some MSS read “without cause.” I  agree with Betz’s assessment that this is a “secondary ethical interpretation” (Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 219). Following Nolland and France (see nn. 7 and 9 below), I have adopted the translation of ἀδελφῷ as “brother or sister” to reflect a generic rather than gender-specific reference. 6 On the translation of this word as “the Sanhedrin,” see survey and references in Robert A. Guelich, “Mt 5:22: Its Meaning and Integrity,” ZNW 64 (1973), 42–44. 7 Since the bibliography on this unit is vast, I  have chosen to focus on studies that are important for my argument. For a survey of recent literature see e.g. John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2005), 227–228. 8 William. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Volume 1: Matthew 1–7 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1988–97), 511. This phrasing stands in opposition to many Western writers since Irenaeus, who have based their reading of the verse on the addition “without cause,” which limits the application of Jesus’ words merely to unjustified anger. See e.g. Luz, Matthew, 238. 9 On the meaning of “brother” (ἀδελφῷ) in this context, whether “Christian brother” or simply “neighbor,” see references in Davies and Allison, Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 512–513. Richard T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand

45

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 45 murderer and deserving of criminal prosecution or spiritual damnation.10 Jesus here “appears to accept the legal focus … only to parody and discredit it as an adequate framework for appreciating the thrust of the commandment.”11 In a parallel literary structure, the Aramaic word ‫( ריקא‬reqa) and the Greek Μωρέ (mōre) are presented as elaborations on the prohibition to become angry with another person.12 Scholars have long debated the exact nature of the offense that Jesus deems so severe. Even if read as an ethical demand rather than an actual legal prohibition,13 why are these insults so reprehensible as to be equated to murder? The two specific slurs cited as examples naturally stand at the heart of the discussion. The fact that these two insults appear in the text of Matthew in their original language (this is the sole appearance of raka in the NT) points to an audience that is comfortable cursing in multiple languages, including Aramaic and Greek.14 The spelling of raka, as opposed to the Aramaic reqa, could stem from Syriac influence (where the term is vocalized raqa).15 Puzzlingly, the two terms seem parallel in their meaning, which has led scholars to attempt to discern the exact distinction between them.16 Jonathan Watt has summarized recent views, which have moved away from a search for finite differences between these two terms. Rather, he suggests that this doubling stems from the kind of “code-switching” common in bilingual communities:17

Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007), 200, n. 80, notes that the communal sense of this term is “more characteristic of Matthew than of the other gospels.” 10 On the relationship between this unit in Matthew and what we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls, see John Kampen, “A Reexamination of the Relationship between Matthew 5:21–48 and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Society of Biblical Literature: Seminar Papers 29 (1990), 34–59. On the move from an earthly punishment to that of hell, see Luz, Matthew, 236. 11 Nolland, Gospel of Matthew, 230. 12 On this term, see Joachim Jeremias, “ῥακά,” in Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (eds), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. Geoffrey  W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964–1976), VI, 973–976. 13 See Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 221. 14 Jeremias, “ῥακά,” 974: “Matthew is writing for readers who, though they speak Greek, can understand an oriental term of abuse without further ado” (emphasis mine). This may have a bearing on the original language of the Gospel; see Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 220–221 and n. 173. 15 See Jeremias, “ῥακά,” 974, and Davies and Allison, Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 513, n. 6. 16 For a survey, see footnotes in Guelich, “Mt. 5:22,” 39–52; Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 222 and n. 181; and Davies and Allison, Critical and Exegetical Commentary, 515–516. 17 Jonathan M.  Watt, “Some Implications of Bilingualism for New Testament Exegesis,” in Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (eds), The Language of the New

46

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity Code-switching between the region’s native language (Aramaic), its historic and sometimes current language of religious discourse (Hebrew – which may have been the medium when a young Jesus impressed his seniors at the temple, Luke 2:46–47), and even its tertiary language of wider communication (Greek), would have been comfortable communicative behavior. Multilingual speakers draw effortlessly from their repertoire, as Jesus and the Gospel writer seem to have done.

Interestingly, the insult “fool” appears elsewhere in the New Testament, even in the mouth of Jesus himself, when he calls the Pharisees μωροὶ καὶ τυφλοί (“blind fools,” Matt 23:17).18 Of course, the different sources within the New Testament do not necessarily have to align with one another. And indeed Robert Horton Gundry has noted that they are not truly contradictory, since the term appears in several places in Matthew specifically to signify “those who do not belong to the kingdom of heaven.”19 In light of these other uses of the Greek insult “fool,” Gundry suggests we should read it here as “expressing a negative judgment, private and premature, against a brother’s membership in the kingdom.”20 Taking this stance even further, Garlington proposes that “ ‘fool’ is a shot aimed not at one’s IQ but at one’s salvific condition or state of soul. That is to say, the fool has no part in the (eschatological) kingdom of God.”21 Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 5, therefore, is not in contradiction with the depiction of Jesus’ own use of this slur against the Pharisees. In the latter case, he is simply pointing out, accurately, the Pharisees’ status as unbelievers. By contrast, to call

Testament: Context, History, and Development (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 9–27. The quotation appears on p. 27. 18 And a similar use of a different root by Paul, when he rails against the Galatians: Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται (“You foolish Galatians,” Gal 3:1). 19 Robert H. Gundry, Matthew:  A Commentary on his Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994), 84–85. See Matt 7:26; 23:17; 25:2; 25:3; 25:8. In another attempt to reconcile the two Matthean passages, Katell Berthelot has suggested to me that Matt 23:17 is a section that clearly denounces a lack of intelligence concerning religious or spiritual issues (blindness), in a context of “inverted beatitude.” In the latter passage, says Berthelot, Jesus is not insulting his opponents out of anger (and thus doing exactly what he denounces in 5:22), but predicting their unhappy fate, which is a consequence of a real spiritual flaw (from the redactor’s perspective). 20 Gundry, Matthew, 85. 21 Don Garlington, “ ‘You Fool!’: Matthew 5:22,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 20 (2010), 61–84. The quotation appears on p. 68.

47

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 47 a brother or a sister a “fool” meant, according to Garlington, condemning him unjustly. In that case, such a condemnation is equivalent to murder. Even if one does not fully accept Garlington’s last suggestion, it nonetheless seems clear that the use of the insult “fool” carried a particular connotation within the context of Matthew’s Gospel. It is an insult meant to signal a certain type of opponent understood in a specific theological context. Insults in the Ancient World Setting aside the specific theological ramification of the insult “fool,” recent scholarship has urged us to consider the more general function of such insults in the culture of the ancient world. Such slurs should not be seen as mere harmless words,22 but rather as “genuine social weapons intended to cause serious injury.”23 When uttered by influential persons, such negative labeling can cause real damage. It is no surprise, therefore, that later rabbinic law deems this type of speech worthy of punishment in courts.24 One Talmudic saying even compares public insults to spilling blood.25 Even without casting doubt on their eschatological future, name calling defines the target of the insult as an outsider to the social order and as “permanently deviant.”26 This is the context in which Jesus argues that one who insults another in this way deserves punishment from the Sanhedrin. In the words of Jerome Neyrey, “In an honor-shame culture, there is no such thing as a harmless insult.”27

22 See e.g. Luz, Matthew, 235:  “[Ῥακά] a frequently used, quite harmless, condescending expression that meant something like ‘feather brain’ … ‘Fool’ (Μωρέ) is a common Greek word of abuse with a nuance of disrespect, but it too has little importance.” And see n. 16 there for Chrysostom and Basil on this word. 23 Jerome H.  Neyrey, Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 192. 24 See e.g. m. B. Qam. 8:1 and m. Ketub. 3:7. Basser, Gospel of Matthew, 141–142. 25 B. B. Meṣiʿa 58b. See e.g. Luz, Matthew, 237, where he concludes that “Jesus’ demand is nothing new in the framework of contemporary Jewish parenesis [=Greek term for sections of the epistles dealing with moral exhortation] … [I]n its content the first antithesis is not at all original. Jesus simply formulates it more sharply and in a more attention grabbing way by couching his admonition in the form of a legal sentence.” Luz, Matthew, 237–238, views Jesus’ unique contribution in creating contrasts between parenesis and the existing legal system. 26 See Bruce J. Malina and Jerome H. Neyrey, Calling Jesus Names: The Social Value of Labels in Matthew (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1988), 35–42, “Introduction to Labelling Theory.” 27 Neyrey, Honor and Shame, 193.

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In this chapter, I will claim that these insults in the Sermon on the Mount should be read not merely as general slurs but in light of a specific context, which explains Jesus’ severe reaction to their use. I will draw on the broader context of Matthew 5 and other passages in the New Testament, as well as contemporary sources from Qumran and later rabbinic sources, in order to offer a new understanding of this passage, as well as the semantic field of the term “fool” which is used in the minim-stories in the Babylonian Talmud. My interpretation will draw attention to the use of these insults within a broader conversation about the correct interpretation of scripture. I will show that several contemporary groups each claimed to be the legitimate interpreters of scripture and routinely invoked these insults against the others in order to mark them as false interpreters. “Fool” and doreshe ḥalaqot As Watt points out in his analysis, Jesus’ use of the slur “fool” in Matthew 23:17 is synonymous with “hypocrite” and “blind,” or these terms are at least close in their “paradigmatic” relationships:28 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites … Woe to you, blind guides … You blind fools. David Garland surveys the use of “hypocrisy” in the New Testament,29 claiming that it involves much more than “pretending to have moral or religious beliefs which one does not actually possess,” or “performing for the sake of an audience.”30 Rather, in Garland’s analysis, the term conveys a sense of false teaching (as in Gal 2:13), a false exposition of the law (as in Luke 13:10–17, the healing of the woman on the Sabbath, and Matt 15:1– 7, purity laws), and even more specifically in the sense of legalistic teaching (1 Tim 4:1–3):31 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars (ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων) whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence

28 29 30 31

Watt, “Some Implications of Bilingualism,” 71. David E. Garland, The Intention of Matthew 23 (Leiden: Brill, 1979), 91–123. Garland, Intention, 115–116. Garland, Intention, 112–113.

49

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 49 from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. Hypocrisy, in Garland’s reading of these sources, should not be understood in the sense of false performance, but rather false teaching of the law. In this sense, the term “hypocrite” specifically targets those who have the responsibility and authority to convey these teachings. It is, Garland says: a radical subversion of God’s will manifested especially in the false interpretation of the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees confidently (whether knowingly or unknowingly) endorse man-made traditions as God’s will, when in fact these obstruct the intention of God’s Law.32 Whether or not one accepts Garland’s reading of each of these individual source (for example, a later dating of 1 Timothy would make the case for the centrality of the law much weaker),33 I am interested in the parallel he draws between this sense of “hypocrite” and a similar term in the Qumranic corpus. Garland connects the double meanings of the word “hypocrite” (the common notion of one who professes beliefs that he doesn’t actually practice and the more specific NT sense of one who spreads false teachings) with the group referred to in the Qumranic texts as ‫( דורשי החלקות‬doreshe ḥalaqot). In these sectarian texts, the term doreshe ḥalaqot is generally agreed to refer to the Pharisees,34 a group the sect saw as one of its chief opponents and whom the rabbis later considered their predecessors, but scholars have proposed conflicting interpretations of the meaning of the epithet. The common translation, “seekers of smooth things,” is based on Isaiah 30:10: ‫דברו לנו חלקות‬, “speak to us smooth things.” According to this reading, ‫( חלקות‬ḥalaqot) are smooth things, which sound correct but are in fact false. However, the exact translation of the complete term, ‫( דורשי חלקות‬doreshe ḥalaqot) is debated. The negative sense of the epithet has been understood to refer to the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and their practice of studying the Torah in slippery (Heb. ‫ )חלק‬ways.35 Others read ‫( חלקות‬ḥalaqot) as

32

Garland, Intention, 116. I am grateful to Tobias Nicklas for discussing this with me. 34 Garland, Intention, 104–112. 35 David Flusser, “Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes in Pesher Nahum,” in Menahem Dormann, Shmuel Safrai and Menahem Stern (eds), Studies in Jewish History and the Hebrew Language: Gedaliah Alon Memorial Volume (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hame‘uḥad, 1970), 133–168 [Hebrew]. 33

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referring not to the Pharisees’ ethical behavior but to the accusation that their interpretations of Torah, Jewish Law, led to lenient legal positions.36 Hoenig suggests that we view this term as a wordplay on ‫( הלכות‬halakhot, rabbinic law).37 Another reading draws on the contextual connections between the term doreshe ḥalaqot and “false counsel and interpretation which misunderstands God’s law and misleads the people of God.”38 For example, the term appears in the desert scrolls in conjunction with the epithets “seers of deceit” and “interpreters of falsehood,” who “bartered God’s law for flattering words” (‫להמיר תורתכה בחלקות‬, beḥalaqot).39 This specific charge is intended not only as a critique of the targets’ ethical character but also of their methods of interpreting scripture. Meyer therefore suggests translating doreshe ḥalaqot as “those who give false interpretations of Scripture.”40 According to this convincing reading, Qumran’s doreshe ḥalaqot and the New Testament’s “hypocrites” carry similar meanings when used as slurs against the Pharisees. Given the parallel uses of the terms in Matthew, the adjectives “fool” and “blind” should also be connected to these slurs, which all signal a shared semantic field, describing the Pharisees and their false interpretations of scriptural law. Garlington takes this conclusion one step further, suggesting that the terms “fool” and “hypocrite” should be viewed as semantically equivalent to “heretic” and “unbeliever.”41 Other occurrences of the adjective “fool” in the New Testament bolster this reading.42 So, for example, 2 Timothy 2:22–26 condemns the pursuit of foolish arguments with heretics: Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish (μωρὰς) and stupid (ἀπαιδεύτους) arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to 36 Godfrey R.  Driver, The Judean Scrolls:  The Problem and a Solution (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965), 94. 37 Sidney B.  Hoenig, “Dorshe Halakot in Pesher Nahum,” Journal of Biblical Literature 83 (1964), 119–138. 38 Garland, Intention, 109. 39 1QH 4:9–10. See Garland, Intention, 108. 40 Rudolf Meyer and Hans-Friedrich Weiss, “φαρισαῐος,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 930. 41 Garlington, “You Fool,” 83. 42 Heresy is indeed suggested in these examples as one of the meaning of the entry “Mōrós” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 844).

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“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 51 teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. Similarly, 2 Timothy 3:5– 9, but this time using a different word for “folly” (ἄνοια): Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly (ἄνοια) will be clear to everyone. Elsewhere, in Ephesians 5:3–7, foolish talk (alongside obscenity and coarse humor) is connected to “empty words,” which result in disinheritance from the kingdom of God: But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk (μωρολογία) or adroitness of speech (εὐτραπελία), which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words (κενοῖς λόγοις), for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Doreshe ḥalaqot and req I turn now to an etymology of doreshe ḥalaqot proposed by Nahum M. Bronznick.43 Bronznick suggests that the word ‫( חלק‬ḥalaq) should

43 Nahum M.  Bronznick, “The Meaning of Doreshe Ḥalaqot,” Tarbiz 60 (1991), 653–657 [Hebrew].

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be understood in light of other rabbinic phrases in which this root has the sense of “empty” or “without content” (Heb. ‫ריק‬, req), such as ‫( נייר חלק‬niyyar ḥalaq), “a blank page” (b. Shab. 78b). According to this reading, the Qumranic epithet doreshe ḥalaqot is a derogatory nickname which turns one of the Pharisees’ primary claims on its head: they purport to interpret scripture and fill it with meaningful content, but they are actually “the interpreters of empty things” or “the creators of empty scriptural interpretations.” While Bronznick himself does not expand on this reading, I would like to dwell for a moment on his suggestion and its implications for the rabbis’ self-perception as expressed in several passages in rabbinic literature. The word “empty” features prominently in rabbinic interpretation of Deuteronomy 32:47, which appears at the conclusion of the Deuteronomic hymn “Listen, you heavens”: ‫ ויאמר אלהם שימו‬.‫ויכל משה לדבר את כל הדברים האלה אל כל ישראל‬ ‫ אשר תצום את בניכם לשמר‬.‫לבבכם לכל הדברים אשר אנכי מעיד בכם היום‬ ‫ כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם כי הוא חייכם‬.‫לעשות את כל דברי התורה הזאת‬ .‫ובדבר הזה תאריכו ימים על האדמה אשר אתם עברים את הירדן שמה לרשתה‬ When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you (lit. “an empty – ‫ רק‬req – matter for you”); they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” I will argue that, in rabbinic interpretation of these verses, the word ‫( רק‬req, “empty”) and its negation stand at the heart of rabbinic descriptions of their own hermeneutical project. I want to be clear that I am aware of the much-discussed methodological problem of using later sources – rabbinic literature of the first through fifth centuries CE – in order to try and reconstruct a Second Temple conversation. However, scholarship in the decades since the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls has amply demonstrated that light can indeed be shed from the later sources on the earlier ones through careful analysis.44 In this case, I see the rabbinic sources as part of a wider

44 There are many possible references for this sort of research. See, e.g. Lutz Doering, “Parallels without ‘Parallelomania’:  Methodological Reflections on Comparative Analysis of Halakhah in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Steven D. Fraade, Aharon Shemesh and Ruth A. Clements (eds), Rabbinic Perspectives: Rabbinic Literature and the Dead

53

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 53 conversation, whose other participants can be recognized in the earlier Second Temple and New Testament sources. “It is Not an Empty Matter from you” in Rabbinic Literature I begin with y. Pe’ah 1:1 (15b–d),45 in which R. Mana interprets the words of Deuteronomy 32:47 as follows: ‫' אם הוא רק 'מכם' למה? שאין‬.‫ "'כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם‬:‫כיי ד[מר ר' מנא‬ "...‫' אימתי הוא חייכם? בשעה שאתם יגיעין בו‬.‫ 'כי הוא חייכם‬.‫אתם יגיעין בו‬ ‫" זה תלמוד‬.‫ "כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם‬.‫ר' מנא שמע כולהון מן הדין קריא‬ ‫" זו‬.‫ "ובדבר הזה תאריכו ימים‬.‫" זה כיבוד אב ואם‬.‫ "כי הוא חייכם‬.‫תורה‬ 46 .‫" זה הבאת שלום בין אדם לחבירו‬.[‫ "]על האדמה‬.‫גמילות חסדים‬ R. Mana said: “ ‘It is not an empty matter (davar req) for you.’ If it is empty (req), it is ‘for you,’ since you do not exert yourselves for it. ‘For it is your life.’ When is it your life? Anytime you are exerting yourselves for it.” … R. Mana learned (lit. heard) all [of the above] from this verse: “It is not an empty matter for you,” this is the study of Torah; “for it is your life,” this is the commandment to respect one’s father and mother; “and through this you will lengthen your days,” this is charity (lit. “acts of kindness”); “in the land,” this is making peace between people. This passage appears in the Palestinian Talmud within a discussion of a series of oral traditions pertaining to the interpretation of the Torah which were forgotten by later generations and restored through the dedication of the rabbis.47 These oral traditions are equated to the laws given to Moses at Sinai. Here, R. Mana presents an equation: not empty = Torah study. The hard work of interpretation is equated to life itself, and life in turn is made empty by the

Sea Scrolls (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 13–42; Steven D. Fraade, “Shifting from Priestly to Non-Priestly Legal Authority: A Comparison of the Damascus Document and the Midrash Sifra,” Dead Sea Discoveries 6 (1999), 109–125; Fraade, “The Temple as a Marker of Jewish Identity.” 45 Bronznick, “Meaning,” 655, refers very briefly to the first part of this quote but not to the other sources discussed here. 46 Text according to MS Leiden Scaliger 3. 47 The passage is partially quoted in several other contexts in the Palestinian Talmud. The first part has several parallels:  y. Shev. 1:5 (33b); y. Shab. 1:4 (3d); y. Sukkah 4:1 (54b); and y. Ketub. 8:8 (32c).

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity

lack of serious study. The act of painstaking study makes life “not empty” but full of life-worthy meaning. An earlier work, the legal midrash Sifre Deuteronomy, addresses the tricky task of retaining one’s study: it is hard to acquire but easy to lose. The midrash asserts (Sifre Deuteronomy 48): ".‫ "הוא חייכם‬.‫ ריק הוא‬.'‫ דבר שאתם אומ‬.'‫"כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם" וגו‬ “It is not an empty matter for you”: what you say is empty – “it is your life.”48 We see here again the identification of the negation of emptiness with the study of Torah. In another passage the study of Torah is again opposed to emptiness (Sifre Deuteronomy 335): ‫" אין לך דבר ריקן בתורה שאם תדרשנו שאין בו‬.‫"כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם‬ .‫מתן שכר בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא‬ “It is not an empty matter (davar req) for you.” There is nothing empty in the Torah, which, when interpreted, will not earn you a reward in this world, with the principle remaining intact for the world to come. The Torah is “not empty” when studied, earning the learner both profit in this world and reward in the next. In yet another passage in the same Sifre portion (48), Deuteronomy 32:47 is cited to demonstrate that one should not study difficult scriptural verses while ignoring the simple ones, because “what you say is empty – it is your very life.” Torah is never “empty.” In the later, amoraic midrash, Genesis Rabbah, R. Akiva, the master of rabbinic scriptural interpretation, is asked a question about a verse in Genesis by R. Ishmael, with reference to his former studies with Naḥum of Gimzo, who formulated rabbinic hermeneutical principles in the study of scripture (Genesis Rabbah 1:14):49 ‫זו‬-‫ "בשביל ששימשתה את נחום איש גם‬:‫ א' לו‬.'‫ר' ישמעאל שאל את ר' עקי‬ ‫ הדן‬.‫ אתים גמים ריבואים‬.‫ א)ת(]כ[ים רקים מיעוטים‬.‫עשרים ושתים שנה‬ ‫ 'ברא' ב' אלהים שמים וארץ' היינו‬.'‫ "אילו נא‬:‫'את' דכת' הכא מהו?" א' ליה‬

48 Hebrew text according to MS Vatican 32. The English translations are based on Sifre:  A Tannaitic Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy, trans. and introd. Reuven Hammer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986) and corrected to fit the text of MS versions quoted and local vocabulary needs. 49 The literary structure of this passage appears in three different places in Gen. Rab., in reference to three different verses:  Gen 1:14; 22:2; and 53:15. In all of these instances, R.  Akiva is asked about the application of Naḥum of Gimzo’s

55

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 55 ‫' ואם רק‬.‫ "'כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם‬:‫" אמר ליה‬.‫ אף שמים והארץ אלוהות‬.'‫או‬ ‫' לרבות חמה ולבנה‬.‫ אלא 'את השמים‬.‫' שאין אתם יודעים לדרוש‬.‫ 'מכם‬.‫הוא‬ ".‫' לרבות אילנות ודשאים וגן עדן‬.‫ 'ואת הארץ‬.‫כוכבים ומזלות‬ R. Ishmael asked R. Akiva: “Since you have studied twentytwo years under Naḥum of Gimzo, [who formulated the principle that] akh (save that) and raq (except) are limitations, while et and gam (also) are extensions, what of the et written here [Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning created God the (et) heaven and the (et) earth’]?” Said he to him: “If it stated, ‘In the beginning created God heaven and earth,’ we might have maintained that heaven and earth, too, are divine powers [i.e. without the particle et signaling the accusative, heaven and earth could be read as nominatives in apposition to the word ‘God’].” He [=R. Ishmael] said to him: “ ‘It is not an empty matter from you,’ and if it is empty, it is ‘from you,’ because you are unable to interpret it [correctly]. Rather, ‘the (et) heavens’ is to include the sun and moon, the stars and planets; ‘the (et) earth’ is to include trees, herbage, and the Garden of Eden.”50 R. Ishmael’s words are similar to R. Mana’s statement in the Palestinian Talmud, quoted above, but it pushes the point even further: whether there is emptiness depends not only on the effort invested in Torah study, but also on the student’s level of proficiency. In the context of the use of elaborate rabbinic hermeneutical tools for scriptural exegesis, R. Ishmael criticizes R. Akiva, arguing that only the application of correct rules of interpretation gives scripture its meaning and removes it from emptiness. In this passage in Genesis Rabbah, the rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 1:1 explains the need for the accusative marker (et), without which the verse might be understood in a theologically problematic fashion. If we look closely at the argument itself and compare it to two parallel narratives in the same corpus with similar literary structures, we can deepen our understanding of the polemical context of the term “empty.” In Genesis Rabbah 53:15, R. Ishmael asks R. Akiva to explain the preposition in Genesis 21:20: “God was with

hermeneutical rules in connection with a specific verse. He answers the question but is countered by R. Ishmael, who quotes Deuteronomy 32:47, accuses him of misunderstanding the verse, and supplies his own, correct interpretation. 50 Hebrew texts from Genesis Rabbah are according to MS Vatican 60. English trans. according to Sconcino with modifications.

56

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(et) the boy (Ishmael).” R. Akiva explains that without the preposition et (with), the sentence might convey that God was the boy. Here, again, R. Ishmael quotes Deuteronomy 32:47 and supplies a different explanation: that the preposition broadens the meaning of the verse to include Ishmael’s family and property. In Genesis Rabbah 22:2, R. Ishmael asks R. Akiva about Genesis 4:1, which describes the birth of Cain: ‫זו‬-‫ "בשביל ששימשתה את נחום איש גם‬:‫ א' לו‬.'‫ר' ישמע' שאל את ר' עקי‬ ‫ הדין‬.‫ >אכים< ורקים מיעוטים‬:{‫ איתים גמים ריבויים }איתים‬.‫כ‘ב שנים‬ .‫ "אילו נא' 'קניתי איש ייי' היה הדבר קשה‬:‫'את' דכת' הכא מהו?" א' ליה‬ ‫' שאין‬.‫' ואם 'רק הוא מכם‬.‫ "'כי לא דבר רק הוא מכם‬:‫'" א' ליה‬.‫אלא 'את ייי‬ ‫ וחוה נבראת‬.‫' לשעבר אדם נברא מאדמה‬.‫" אל' 'את ייי‬.‫אתם יודעים לדרוש‬ ‫ ולא אשה בלא‬.‫' לא איש בלא אשה‬.‫ מיכן ואילך 'בצלמינו ובדמותינו‬.‫מן אדם‬ ".‫ ולא שניהם בלא שכינה‬.‫איש‬ R. Ishmael asked R. Akiva: “Since you have served Naḥum of Gimzo for twenty-two years, [and he taught that] every et and gam is an extension and every akh and raq is a limitation, tell me what is the purpose of the et written here [‘I have gotten a man with (et) the Lord’]?” He said to him: “If it said, ‘I have gotten a man the Lord,’ it would have been difficult [to interpret; i.e. the lack of the preposition would make it appear as if the man being born is God]; hence ‘et [i.e. with the help of] the Lord’ is required.” He said to him: “ ‘It is not an empty matter from you,’ and if it is empty, it is ‘from you,’ because you are unable to interpret it [correctly]. Rather, ‘with (et) the Lord’ [teaches this]: in the past, Adam was created from earth, and Eve was created from Adam; henceforth, it shall be, ‘In our image, after our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26) – neither man without woman nor woman without man, nor both of them without the shekhinah.” Here, as well, the absence of the preposition in question might have created a sentence with problematic theological ramifications. In all three cases, R. Ishmael quotes Deuteronomy 32:47 to stress the importance of a correct interpretation of these verses, pace R. Akiva. In all three passages, the rabbinic interpretation explains the need for the preposition et, without which God could have been understood either as having himself been created, as being identified with the boy or as being born to a woman. In this third midrash on Genesis 4:1, I think we can detect a clear anti-Christian polemic, since the ending states that the creation of humans now requires all

57

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 57 three elements – shekhinah, woman, and man (“nor woman without man”). This seems to me to be a clear rejection of the virgin birth of Jesus: there are no exceptions – since the creation of the first man and woman, all humans, beginning with Cain, must have a human father. One could make the case that similar polemics underlie the other two midrashim cited above. In the case of Genesis 1:1, we see an attempt to determine exactly which elements were included in creation, similar to the Christian preoccupation with logos, exemplified most famously by the opening verse of the Gospel of John. In the case of Genesis 21:20, perhaps the intention is to counter contemporary Christian readings that see another boy in this story, Isaac, as a figure of Christ. I want to stress that I am not certain there is indeed a clear antiChristian polemical background to all three stories. Even so, however, my key argument is still valid: the use of Deuteronomy 32:47 (“It is not an empty matter from you”) asserts that correct rabbinic interpretation is what makes the Torah full and prevents scriptural misunderstandings. In addition to the rabbinic material presented here, New Testament passages dealing with heresy also draw on the language of “empty matters.” For example, as we saw above, in Ephesians 5:3–7, the rejection of “foolish talk” is followed by a call to avoid “empty words,” which risk the speaker’s disinheritance from the kingdom of God: “Let no one deceive you with empty words (κενοῖς λόγοις), for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” In summary, we see in these rabbinic passages a clear connection between the word ‫( ריק‬req, “empty”) and the rabbinic hermeneutical study of the Torah. The rabbis here assert that their methods are what render the Torah full rather than empty.

“Our Full Torah” It is in this semantic context that the Qumran writers ridicule the Pharisees by calling them ‫דורשי חלקות‬, “ones who study empty things.” Bronznick identifies a possible counter-argument to this Second Temple slur in a famous passage from the scholion to Megillat Ta‘anit, and quoted in the Babylonian Talmud, in which R. Yoḥanan b. Zakkai argues with the Sadducees (or Boethusians) about the exact date for the beginning of the counting of the Omer between

58

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Passover and Shavuot.51 When answering their claims, R. Yoḥanan exclaims: .‫ לא תהא תורה שלימה שלנו כשיחה בטילה שלכם‬.‫שוטה‬ Fool! Should not our full Torah be [as convincing] as your idle/empty talk?52 While this passage first appears in later sources, scholars believe it might reflect earlier arguments stemming from the Second Temple period.53 For our purposes, note here the term “full Torah,” recognized by Bronznick as a possible negative attribute to “empty Torah,” and my own focus on the use of the slur “fool,” discussed above, in Second Temple, New Testament and rabbinic literature. The rabbinical figure in these stories asserts the “fullness” of his Torah in opposition to his opponents’ “foolishness” on matters of legal exegesis. Matthew 5:22 and the Misinterpretation of the Law Returning to the passage with which we started our discussion at the beginning of this chapter, we are now better able to understand Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount: You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister is liable to judgment. Whoever says to his brother or sister, “Raka” (Ῥακά), is liable to the council (συνεδρίῳ). Whoever says, “Fool!” (Μωρέ) is liable to the hell of fire (γέενναν). I wish to suggest that Jesus’ proscription here refers neither to harmless insults nor merely to a general term for people who do not

51 The ‫בייתוסין‬, “Boethusians,” are a Second Temple group mentioned only in rabbinic literature and interchangeable in some sources with the Sadducees. On the possible identification of this group, see Raymond Harari, Rabbinic Perceptions of the Boethusians (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1995). 52 This passage appears in b. Menaḥ. 65b, and the term itself appears in another context in b. B. Batra 116a, but both are also a part of Megillat Ta‘anit and its scholion. On this, see Vered Noam, Megillat Taʻanit:  Versions, Interpretations, History (Jerusalem: Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, 2003), 135–140 and 174–179. While beṭelah on its own does not necessarily mean “empty,” the opposition to “full” makes it clear that this is the case here. 53 Noam, Megillat Taʻanit.

59

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 59 belong to the kingdom of heaven. I think these specific terms, Ῥακά and Μωρέ, can be better understood in light of the connotation of the words “empty” (‫ריק‬, req) and “fool” in their particular meaning within a Second Temple and rabbinic context. When Jesus says that one who unjustly calls a brother or sister raka (“empty one”) or “fool” should suffer severe consequences, he refers specifically to an insult that suggests a misunderstanding of scripture. Jesus’ teaching in this textual unit (Matt 5:21–26) deals with anger and brotherly dispute. The admonition against calling a brother or sister raka or mōre can be understood as an example of the kind of fault or sin one is at risk of committing if one succumbs to anger. However, given the specificity of the particular insults Jesus cites as examples, they should be understood as connected to hermeneutical disputes.54 Given this analysis, I propose that Matthew 5:22 should be read: “Whoever says to his brother or sister [a fellow, not a deserving opponent], ‘Raka’ [accusing his brother of false and empty interpretations of scripture], is liable to the council. Whoever says, ‘Fool!’ [insulting his brother as one insults polemical opponents] is liable to the hell of fire.” We now know the context within which the Matthean Jesus is speaking: he himself uses similar derogatory terms; the Qumran writings use these slurs in reference to the Pharisees; and rabbinic literature preserves responses to such claims against them. If my suggestion is correct, this teaching of Jesus aligns nicely with his teaching in 5:17– 20. There, he specifies the way he accomplishes, and thus understands and interprets, the Law: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets … I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus’ harsh tone and severe judgment accord with the moral emphasis of his words. As elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets forth a moral proscription rather than a legalistic one: it is not only the misinterpretation of scripture that makes one deserving of such punishments, but also the false accusation that another misinterprets it. You say that those who misinterpret the Law should go before the Sanhedrin or to gehenna? I say that the flinging of such insults should incur the same fate. Easy recourse to anger and insult deserves punishment just as much as the original

54

I am grateful to Katell Berthelot for her help with phrasing this point.

60

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crimes you insultingly accuse your brother or sister of having committed. In this context, insults are genuine social weapons and cause real injury, especially these specific slurs, which are understood to denote significant theological transgressions. To push the point further, one might even consider Matthew 5:22 as a part of the anti-Qumranic polemics found in other parts of the Sermon on the Mount. Kurt Schubert identifies those who say “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” in Matthew 5:43 with the Essenes. He bases this suggestion on the similarity to passages such as 1QS I 4: “Love everyone whom God has elected and hate everyone whom he has rejected.”55 In a similar way, Jesus could be polemicizing here against the attitudes of other Jewish groups, whom he considers guilty of such insults and reprehensible recourse to anger.56 He could be referring to the practices of the Qumranites alone, or to Qumran and the Pharisees (as they are known from later rabbinic sources). In any case, the specific insults cited in Matthew, denigrating others’ understanding of scripture, are known from contemporary groups and are deemed by Jesus to be worthy of hell. “Fool” in Rabbinic Literature The Hebrew and Aramaic terms for “fool,” ‫( שטיא‬Aramaic; shaṭya) or ‫( שוטה‬Hebrew; shoṭe), appear often as a legal category in rabbinic literature, frequently connected to the hearing-impaired (ḥeresh) and minors (qaṭan). In a few instances, however, it seems to carry specific connotations as a derogatory term. This use of “fool” as a slur is not very common, generally appearing in relation to a handful of people who are criticized for foolish behavior (b. ‘Avod. Zar. 51a) or foolish sayings (b. Ḥul. 85b; b. Nid. 52b). Most notably, it is used against specific groups, such as the Sadducees, in the source mentioned above; Galileans (b. ‘Eruv. 53b); or the Romans, whom God calls “fools” for requesting future reward for their part in the Torah (b. ‘Avod. Zar. 2a).

55 Kurt Schubert, “The Sermon on the Mount and the Qumran Texts,” in Krister Stendahl (ed.), The Scrolls and the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1958), 118– 128. Schubert also suggests an anti-Essene background to the mention of “the poor” and the prophets in Matt 5:12. See also George J. Brooke, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 231–232. 56 I owe this suggestion to Katell Berthelot and am grateful for her help with this point.

61

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 61 Jesus is also called a fool in rabbinic sources. In b. Shab. 104b, the Talmud debates the possibility of creating a tattoo. R. Eliezer brings an example from a certain ben Stada: ‫ "והלא בן סטרא הוציא כשפים ממצרים‬:‫ אמ' להן ר' אליעזר לחכמים‬.‫תניא‬ 57 ".‫ ואין מביאין ראיה מן השוטים‬.‫ "שוטה היה‬:‫" אמרו ליה‬.‫בסריטא שעל בשרו‬ It was taught. R. Eliezer said to the Sages: “But did not ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh?” “He was a fool,” they answered, “and proof cannot be adduced from fools.” This passage goes on to debate who ben Stada was, the identity of his adulterous mother and possible identifications of his biological and legal fathers. It becomes apparent that the person they are discussing is Jesus (also called ben Pandera in other passages).58 Here, R. Eliezer believes that this ben Stada is a reliable source for the halakhic precedent under discussion. The rabbis respond is that he is a “fool” and that “proof cannot be adduced from fools.” I believe that here, as well, our understanding of the semantic field of this term can help elucidate the text. Jesus is called a fool not simply to insult his intelligence but rather to mark him as a heretic. The rabbinic rule is clear: proof cannot be adduced from those who espouse heretical views. The term shatya also appears in the group of minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud which stands at the heart of this book: b. Ber. 10a; b. ‘Eruv. 101a; b. Sukkah 52b; and b. Ḥul. 87a. In response to a defiant question on matters of scripture, the rabbinic figure in these stories insults the min by calling him a “fool.” In three of the cases, the rabbinic figure exclaims: ‫שטיא שפיל לספיא דקרא‬, “Fool! look to the end of the verse [in order to understand its meaning].” If my proposed understanding of the semantic field in which the term “fool” should be understood is correct, then here, as well, the use of this slur has a clear connection to fierce scriptural arguments in rabbinic literature. The word ‫( שוטה‬shoṭe), which appears in these stories, has been identified by scholars such as Guelich as the Hebrew/ Aramaic lexical equivalent of Matthew’s μωρέ (mōre).59 However, ‫( ריקא‬reqa), the lexical equivalent of Matthew’s second term, raka, mostly appears in rabbinic sources as a general insult (for example, in Mekhilta deRabbi

57 58 59

According to MS Oxford 366. And see Schäfer for textual variants such as stada/stara. See Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, 15–24. Guelich, “Mt 5:22,” 41–42.

62

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity

Ishmael, Baḥodesh 5; b. Berakhot 22a; b. Ta‘anit 20a; b. Giṭ. 58a; b. B. Qam. 50b). In these cases, I did not detect the added heretical connotation that shaṭya or shoṭe carry in the min stories and elsewhere. In a few instances, however, the rabbis’ use of the term reqa does appear to suggest added hostility of some sort. So, in b. Sanhedrin 100a,60 a student (‫אותו תלמיד‬, lit. “that student”) doubts a rabbinic tradition about God’s future fantastic deeds. The student then has a vision confirming the truth of the tradition, which he reports to R. Yoḥanan. The master responds by criticizing the student for only believing after seeing: ‫ "דרוש רבי ולך נאה‬:‫ אמ' ליה‬.‫אתא לר' יוחנן אשכחיה דיתיב וקא דריש‬ ‫ אלמלא לא ראית לא‬.‫ "ריקא‬:‫" אמר לו‬.‫לדרוש כאשר אמרת כך ראיתי‬ 61 .‫" נתן עיניו בו ונעשה גל שלעצמות‬.‫ מלגלג על דברי חכמי' אתה‬.‫האמנת‬ He found R. Yoḥanan who was teaching. He said to him: “Expound, master! And it is indeed fitting for you to expound, for what you said [previously], I myself saw.” He said to him: “Reqa! Had you not seen, you would not have believed! You deride the words of the Sages!” He set his eyes upon him, and he turned into a heap of bones. R. Yoḥanan calls the student a “fool” (‫ריקא‬, reqa) and “one who mocks rabbinic teachings,” and he promptly turns him into a pile of bones. Interestingly, the accusation of “mocking rabbinic teachings” occurs only one other time in rabbinic literature, in reference to Jesus. In b. Giṭṭin 57a, Jesus is summoned from the dead and tells of his fate in hell, sitting in boiling excrement.62 The reason for this punishment is the rabbinic dictum that “whoever mocks the teaching of the sages is liable to sit in boiling excrement.”63 I will point out again that Jesus, in a rabbinic passage discussed above, is also called a “fool” (shoṭe).64 The combination of these elements in the person of Jesus suggests again that these insults share a specific polemical context, aimed at rabbinic authority. The insult reqa also appears in a story in b. Ketubbot 112a, in which R. Zera tries to cross a river using a rope rather than a ferry boat. He is criticized by a min, who compares his haste to that of the 60

And also b. B. Batra 75a. According to MS Jerusalem, Yad HaRav Herzog. 62 On this Talmudic tradition see Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, 82–94. 63 In Jesus’ case, the verb used for “mocking” is ‫מלעיג‬, while in the story of R. Yoḥanan’s student it is ‫מלגלג‬, but the words are synonymous. 64 B. Shab. 104b. See above p. 61. 61

63

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 63 Israelites when they accepted the Torah at Sinai. R. Zera answers by calling the min a “fool” (‫ריקא‬, reqa). Here again, the context is clearly polemical. However, unlike the insult ‫שוטה‬/‫( שטיא‬shoṭe/shaṭya), reqa does not seem to be used specifically in reference to scriptural arguments in these instances. Early Church Writers In addition to the New Testament, “fool” and related terms appear frequently in the polemical writings of early church fathers. So, for example, Gregory the fourth-century bishop of Nyssa writes (in a passage cited in the beginning of this book): It may indeed be undignified to give any answer at all to the statements that are foolish; we seem to be pointed that way by Solomon’s wise advice, “not to answer a fool according to his folly.” But there is a danger, lest through our silence error may prevail over the truth, and so the rotting sore of this heresy may invade it and make havoc of the sound word of the faith. It has appeared to me, therefore, to be imperative to answer, not indeed according to the folly of these men who offer objections of such a description to our Religion, but for the correction of their depraved ideas. For that advice quoted above from the Proverbs gives, I think, the watchword not for silence, but for the correction of those who are displaying some act of folly; our answers, that is, are not to run on the level of their foolish conceptions, but rather to overturn those unthinking and deluded views as to doctrine.65 In discussing how to answer heretical arguments, Gregory outlines the case for answering even “foolish” claims. Tertullian in his “On the Incarnation” refers to others’ calling Christian beliefs “foolish” and reclaims the insult: “Yet wise you cannot be, except by becoming a fool in the world through believing the foolish things of God … I find no other grounds for shame, such as may prove that in contempt of dishonor I am nobly shameless and advantageously a fool (feliciter stultum).”66 These are just

65

Gregory of Nyssa, “On the Holy Spirit.” On the Incarnation 5.  Trans. according to Ernest Evans (trans.), Tertullian’s Treatise on the Incarnation (London: SPCK, 1956), 17–19. 66

64

64

Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity

two examples of a widespread use of the term “fool” in early Christian writers, in the context of boundary-making discursive passages. Conclusions To summarize: in Second Temple and New Testament passages and continuing into rabbinic and early Christian literature, we find a semantic field containing several terms related to the proper understanding of scripture. Central to these terms is the notion of one’s understanding of scripture being “empty” (‫ריק‬, req; or its synonym, ‫חלק‬, ḥalaq); or its opposite, the “not empty” or “full” understanding of scripture. Qumranic literature deems the Pharisees’ biblical interpretations empty, while passages in rabbinic literature argue vigorously that rabbinic hermeneutical methods are precisely what make the Torah full rather than empty. The insults req/ reqa (“empty”) and shaṭya/shoṭe (“fool”; equivalent to the Greek, Μωρέ) insinuate that one’s opponent’s views are heretical. The use of “fool” in Talmudic min stories, therefore, should not be read as an arbitrary insult, merely commenting on the heretic’s mental capabilities. In the late antique context, calling someone a fool carried a very specific meaning. It was a serious affront, meant to suggest that the target misunderstands scripture. As a result, we should not be surprised to find rabbis calling minim “fool” in the Talmudic stories we have examined. The use of this term in the Talmudic narratives describing encounters between rabbis and heretics is yet another component of the late antique heresy-making discourse that this genre represents. It signaled that the argument being addressed belongs to the “other”; the term signaled the boundaries of the rabbinic “we” and the heretical “they.” It is part of a discourse in which these anxieties are clearly on display. In conclusion, my analysis of passages from Qumran, the New Testament and rabbinic literature helps to clarify the semantic and theological field in which the terms “fool,” “hypocrite” and “empty” operated. The correct interpretation of scripture is depicted as being at the core of key arguments between different

65

“A Fool You Call Me?” Insult and Folly in Late Antiquity 65 groups in late antiquity, and these insults relate directly to the linedrawing discourse on these topics. The Talmud’s critical attitude toward minim, like Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:22, are part of that conversation.

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3 “HE WHO FORMS THE MOUNTAINS AND CREATES THE WIND”: AMOS 4:13 AND THE JEWISH-CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT IN B. ḤULLIN 87A

b. Ḥullin 87a (MS Vatican 122): ‫ מי שברא רוח‬.‫ "מי שיצר הרים לא ברא רוח‬:'‫ לר‬1‫ ]ד[א'ל ההוא מ]י[נא‬.‫ת'ש‬ .‫ "שוטה שבעולם‬:‫'" א'ל‬.‫ שנ' 'כי הנה יוצר הרים ובורא רוח‬.‫לא יצר הרים‬ ‫ נקוט לי‬3.‫ "שטיא קרית ליה‬:‫ א'ל‬2'".‫ 'י'י צבאות שמו‬.‫שפיל לסיפיה דקרא‬ ‫ יתיב‬4.‫" קבע ליה זימנ' תלתא יומין‬.‫זימנא תלתא יומי ומהדרנא לך תיובתא‬ ‫ כי הוה בעי למיברא‬5.‫ר' תלת' יומין בתעניתא כי היכי דלא אשכח תשובה‬ ".‫ "ויתנו בברותי רוש ולצמאי ישקו' חומץ‬:'‫" א‬.‫ "מינא קאי אבבא‬:‫אמרו ליה‬ ‫ אויבך לא מצא תשובה ועלה לגג ונפל‬6.‫ בשורות טובות אני אומ' לך‬.'‫ "ר‬:‫א'ל‬ :‫" לאחר שאכלו ושתו א'ל‬.‫ "הן‬:‫" א'ל‬.‫ "רצונך שתסעוד אצלי‬:‫ א'ל‬7 ".‫ומת‬ ".‫ כוס של ברכה אתה שותה או ארבעים זהובים אתה נוטל בשכרך‬.‫"רצונך‬ ‫ "כוס של ברכה שוה‬:‫" יצתה בת קול ואמרה‬.‫ "כוס של ברכה אני שותה‬:‫א'ל‬ 8 .‫ "ועדיין ישנה לאותה משפחה בין גדולי רומי‬:‫" א'ר יצחק‬.‫ארבעי' זהובים‬ ".‫וקורין לאותה משפחה בית בר לוינוס‬ Come and hear: A certain min said to Rabbi: “He who formed the mountains did not create the wind; and he who created the wind did not form the mountains, as it is

In the printed version: ‫צדוקי‬, “a Sadducee.” Note that this version of the verse differs from the masoretic version: ‫יהוה אלהי‬ ‫צבאות שמו‬, “The Lord, the God of hosts.” I thank Geoffrey Herman for this comment. 3 This sentence is missing in MS Vatican 120–121 and MS Munich, as well as in the printed editions. It is present in Aggadot Hatalmud and the Yalqut Shim‘oni. See n. 20 in Diqduqe Soferim, ad loc. 4 This sentence is missing in MS Vatican 120– 121 and MS Munich, as well as in the printed editions. 5 The words ‫ כי היכי דלא אשכח תשובה‬are missing in MS Vatican 120– 121 and MS Munich, as well as in the printed editions. 6 MS Vatican 120–121 and the printed edition both read ‫מבשר טובות אני לך‬. 7 This version is also found in Aggadot Hatalmud and the Yalqut Shim‘oni. MSS Munich and Vatican 120–121 read ‫אויבך נפל מן הגג‬. 8 Printed versions read ‫ הארץ‬instead of ‫רומי‬. MS Munich omits the last three words, ‫בין גדולי רומי‬. 1 2

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said: ‘For, lo, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind’ (Amos 4:13).” He replied: “Oh worldly fool! Look to the end of the verse: ‘The Lord of hosts, is His name.’ ” He said to him: “Did you call me a fool?!9 Grant me three days’ time, and I shall give you an answer.” He set a period of three days. Rabbi spent those three days in fasting so that [the min] would not find an answer. Thereafter, as he was about to partake of food, he was told: “There is a min standing at the door.” He said: “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalms 69:22). He said to him: “Rabbi, good tidings I am about to tell you; your enemy found no answer and so he went up to the roof and fell and died.” He said: “Would you be willing to dine with me?” He replied: “Yes.” After they had eaten and drunk, he [Rabbi] said to him: “Would you like to receive the cup of the blessing [i.e. over which Grace after Meals was recited] or would you rather have forty gold coins as your reward?” He replied: “I would rather drink the cup of the blessing.” Thereupon there came forth a Heavenly Voice and said: “The cup of the blessing is worth forty gold coins.” R. Isaac said: “Members of the family [of that min] are still to be found amongst the notables of Rome and that family is named Bar Luianus.”10 This dialogue centers on a discussion concerning the interpretation of Amos 4:13.11 The min in the story seems to opine that this verse affirms the involvement of two separate entities in the creation of the mountains and the wind. The phrasing of the question

9 The literal translation is “Did you call him a fool?” using the third person pronoun instead of the first person pronoun, for euphemism. See Elitzur A. Bar-Asher Siegal, Introduction to the Grammar of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, 2nd rev. and exp. ed. (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2016), 96, for this type of change in tense, used as a euphemism in order to avoid direct reference in sensitive contexts. 10 Scholarship on this paragraph includes: Herford, Christianity, 239–245; Büchler, “The Minim of Sepphoris,” 265–266; Bellarmino Bagatti, L’église de la Circoncision (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1965), 89; Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 116–118; Miller, “The Minim of Sepphoris,” 395–396 n. 74; Frédéric Manns, Le Judéo-Christianisme, mémoire ou prophétie? (Paris: Beauchesne, 2000), 182; Secunda, “Reading the Bavli in Iran,” 335–337; Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus, 38–40. 11 For a survey of other uses of verses from Amos in rabbinic literature, see Samson H. Levey, “Amos in the Rabbinic Tradition,” in Willis W. Fisher, Fred O. Francis and Raymond P. Wallace (eds), Tradition as Openness to the Future: Essays in Honor of Willis W. Fisher (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), 55–69.

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implies that the conclusion is inferred from the use of two different verbs: “formed the mountains and created the wind” – “He who formed the mountains did not create the wind, and he who created the wind did not form the mountains.” Rabbi responds to this reasoning, first by calling the min a fool, and then by telling him he should have read the verse to its conclusion, finally quoting the end of the verse, “the Lord of hosts is His name.” With this quote, Rabbi intends to disprove the heretic’s false claim. This structure of a dialogue between the min and the rabbi, including the key phrase, “Fool, look to the end of the verse,” appears in several other stories in the Babylonian Talmud, which will be discussed later in this book.12 However, in the other passages, the part containing this phrase marks the end of the story, while our story uniquely continues to discuss the min’s reaction and its aftermath. In this case, the min is obviously upset about being called a fool. Indeed, in the version of MS Vatican 122, he explicitly reacts to being called a fool, declaring that he will take three days to think of a rejoinder to Rabbi’s answer. Rabbi reportedly spends the three days in fasting fearing the next round of scholastic debate. Rabbi’s anxiety is understandable. The answer he provides seems rather weak, which leads scholars such as Peter Schäfer to bemoan the fate of this poor min who “would have been better off consulting his cleverer colleagues, instead of committing suicide,” and conclude: “what we are encountering here is merely a poor example of a typically more sophisticated genre.”13 MS Vatican 122 explicitly describes Rabbi’s fast as a means of preventing the min from finding an answer.14 According to this version, the fast is perceived as a way to petition God for divine help, and can maybe even be viewed as some kind of sympathetic magical act by which an action is meant to affect the behavior of another individual. We find in contemporary magical texts, similar “binding spells” that are “aggressive” by nature and “were intended to inflict harm on their targets, and/ or ‘coercive,’ meaning they sought to force the targets to act in a certain way, even against their will.”15 12

b. Ber. 10a; b. Eruv. 101a; b. Sukkah 52b. Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus, 40. 14 The absence of this sentence in the other MSS might suggest a different understanding of the purpose of Rabbi’s fast. There may be multiple purposes, such as the death of the min, or even praying for the ability to come up with a counter-argument when necessary. 15 Ortal-Paz Saar, “A Study in Conceptual Parallels: Graeco-Roman Binding Spells and Babylonian Incantation Bowls,” Aramaic Studies 13 (2015), 26, and see 13

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Apparently the fast works: Rabbi breaks his fast after three days, relieved that the min has not returned; but just as he begins to eat, he is interrupted. A min has come. Rabbi expresses his displeasure by quoting another biblical verse, from Psalms 69:22: “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” It turns out, however, that the min in question is another min altogether who has come to deliver good news: the first min is dead. According to MS Vatican 122, he has (presumably) committed suicide by jumping off a roof, having found no answer to Rabbi’s challenge. In the other versions of the text the second min simply reports that the first min has fallen off the roof and died. The difference between these versions is significant: was Rabbi saved from the continuation of the dispute by sheer luck of the min’s accidental death, or as a result of his fast? Or, was his death intentional, the result of despair over his failure to come up with an answer, as understood by scholars such as Herford16 and Schäfer?17 Did Rabbi win the argument, or was he saved from its conclusion? Elsewhere in rabbinic literature the phrase ‫עלה לגג ונפל‬, “he went up a roof and fell,” generally denotes suicide.18 Therefore, even according to the less detailed version, the story may still convey that Rabbi’s opponent has failed in his mission, and taken his own life. However, the Mishnah explicitly demonstrates that the expression “falling off of a roof ” can indicate either suicide or accidental death (m. Giṭ. 6:6): '‫ אמ‬.‫" ועלה לראש הגג ונפל ]ומת‬.[‫ "כתבו ]גט[ לאשת]י‬:'‫מעשה בבריא שא‬ ‫ ואם הרוח‬.‫ "אם ]מ[עצמו נפל הרי זה גט‬:'‫רבן שמע' בן גמל'[ אמרו חכמ‬ ".‫'דח]י[יתו אינו גט‬ It once happened that a man in sound health said: “Write out a bill of divorce for my wife.” He then went up to the top of the roof and fell and died. Rabban Simeon b. Gamliel said: “The Sages said, ‘If he fell down of his own volition, then the bill of divorce is valid; but if the wind blew him down, it is not valid.’ ”

entire article for further bibliography on this topic, pp. 24– 53. I thank Gal Sofer for this reference. 16 Herford, Christianity, 243. 17 Schäfer, The Jewish Jesus, 40. 18 See e.g. a student embarrassed by a prostitute (b. Ber. 23a); the famous martyrdom of the woman and her seven sons (b. Giṭ. 57b; also found in earlier Second Temple sources); or the Gentile selling his red heifer (Sifre Zuta 19:2).

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Indeed, in some sources, falling off a roof indicates an accident, such as y. Terumot 8:4 (45c), where we meet a cook, drinking on the eve of Shabbat, and accidentally falling off the roof to his death. Thus, both options are possible here, according to the version preserved in MS Munich. This detail is significant to our story, in addressing the question whether Rabbi prevailed due to his scholarly abilities, or whether it was the hand of God that spared him? Is this scenario, imagined by the Talmudic author, meant to portray a victory delivered by scholarship – or by chance?19 After he shares his news, the second min and Rabbi sit down to dine together. At this point, Rabbi introduces a test: would the min prefer a cup of wine over which Grace has been recited, or forty gold coins? The context of the Talmudic story connects with this detail: the Talmud relates an incident in which Rabban Gamliel required payment of ten gold coins for a lost opportunity to perform a commandment. The story demonstrates that the benediction over the food, which includes four individual blessings, is thus worth forty gold coins. The second heretic chooses the cup of wine, and a heavenly voice declares this story proof of the worth of the cup of blessing. R. Isaac adds a historical statement: this min’s family is a well-known Roman family by the name of Bar Luianus. Throughout the story we see clear signs of polemical language. The tension is evident from Rabbi’s initial insult (“You fool!”); the min’s request for three days to think of a response; Rabbi’s need to fast for three days to prevent such an answer and his citation of Psalms 69:22, comparing the debate to eating poison; the min’s suicide or tragic death; the language used by the second min, calling the first min’s death “good news” and referring to him as “your enemy”; and the celebratory feast at the story’s culmination. These elements in our story suggest polemical tones that led Isaac Halevy, at the end of the nineteenth century, to suggest that there is more to this story. He argues that Rabbi would not have taken a three-day fast upon himself, nor would the min have asked for a three-day extension, were there not something larger at stake than a question of biblical exegesis. Halevy surmises from the details of the story that this “was not a private argument, but rather a greater, more general

19 However, if we assume the fast as effective (either as a petition to God or even as a magical act), and that the events that follow are a result of this fast, then we might say that either God caused the opponent to not find an answer, or to accidentally fall off the roof, so the difference between the readings is minor. I thank Jeff Rubenstein for this comment.

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issue for both of them.”20 He therefore identifies the min as a Roman informant/ collaborator (‫ )מלשין‬who puts the entire Jewish community in danger. Following Halevy’s suggestion, I will present these polemical tones as indeed suggestive, but I will claim that they are indicative of a Christian background. I will now turn to the parallel version of this story in b. Sanhedrin 39a. B. Sanhedrin 39a This passage includes the min’s question from b. Ḥullin, with entirely different context and trappings. The question is one in a series of questions placed in the mouth of the Emperor (‫)קיסר‬, all of which cast doubt on the singularity of the creator: ‫ "מי שברא הרים לא ברא רוח ומי שברא רוח‬:‫אמר ליה קיסר לרבן גמליאל‬ ‫'" אלא מעתה גבי אדם‬.‫ דכתי' 'כי הנה יוצר הרים וברא רוח‬.‫לא ברא הרים‬ ‫דכת' "ויברא" "וייצר" הכי נמי מי שברא זה לא ברא זה ומי שברא זה לא ברא‬ ‫ מי שברא זה לא ברא‬.‫ טפח על טפח יש בו באדם ושני נקבים יש בו באדם‬.‫זה‬ ‫ דכת' "הנוטע אזן הלא ישמע אם יוצר עין הלא‬.‫זה ומי שברא זה לא ברא זה‬ .‫ ושעת מיתה כולם ניפוסו‬.‫ אין‬.‫ אמ' ליה‬.‫" מי שברא אזן לא ברא עין‬.‫יביט‬ The Emperor said to Rabban Gamliel, “He who created the mountains did not create the wind, and he who created the wind did not create the mountains, as it is written, ‘For lo, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind’ ” (Amos 4:13). According to this reasoning, when we find it written of Adam, “And He created” (Genesis 1:27), and, “And He formed” (Genesis 2:7), would you also say that He who created this did not create that and that He who created that did not create this?! [Further,] there is a part of the human body just a handbreadth square which contains two holes (=an ear and an eye). Did He who created this not create that and He who created that not create this, because it is written, “He that plants the ear, shall he not hear? He that forms the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalms 94:9) Did He that created the ear not create the eye?! He said, “Yes.” At the hour of death all are brought to agree. Halevy uses the more elaborate story in b. Ḥullin to explain the general nature of minim stories in rabbinic sources, and the danger they 20 Isaac Halevy, Dorot Harishonim (Frankfurt a.M.: Jüdisch-literarische Gesellschaft, 1897), 1:87.

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reveal from the Jewish apostates in the Roman world. I agree with his assessment that the story in b. Ḥullin, with its more detailed description, holds the key to understanding the significance of this specific biblical debate. But unlike Halevy, and as mentioned above, I prefer to read the story in the context of Christian discussions concerning the verse cited from the book of Amos, and not in light of an argument with Roman interlocutors over the question of duality. Amos 4:13 The verse at the center of these two Talmudic sources is Amos 4:13. This biblical verse is one of three doxologies found in Amos, assumed by scholars to be taken from a hymn praising Yahweh,21 whether a later addition or one previously used by Amos himself.22 The unique style of these doxologies is “characterised by use of participles, in some instances followed by finite verbs, which describe the actions of Yahweh in creation and control of nature. In each case they also contain the formula ‘The Lord (God of hosts) is his name.’ ”23 It expresses a “theophanic tradition” (i.e. God can turn day into night) in line with other such theophanic expressions in Amos as a whole. The Minor Prophets, as a collective, circulated at least as early as the first decades of the second century BCE,24 and scholars suggest that Amos was translated into Greek by the end of the second century BCE.25 The Septuagint version of the verse differs from the

21 James L. Crenshaw, Hymnic Affirmation of Divine Justice: The Doxologies of Amos and Related Texts in the Old Testament (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1975). 22 See bibliographical references in William B. Barrick, BMH as Body Language: A Lexical and Iconographical Study of the Word BMH when not a Reference to Cultic Phenomena in Biblical and Post-Biblical Hebrew (New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 51–52. 23 Tchadvar S. Hadjiev, The Composition and Redaction of the Book of Amos (Berlin; New York: De Gruyter 2009), 127. 24 Gunnar M. Eidsvåg, The Old Greek Translation of Zechariah (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2016), 15, based on a reference in Sirach, and textual evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls. 25 Aaron W. Park, The Book of Amos as Composed and Read in Antiquity (New York: Peter Lang, 2001), 171. See also Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint of Amos: A Study in Interpretation (Ph.D. diss., University of London, 1992), 311–313. On the number and identity of the translator/ s of Amos see: George E. Howard, “Some Notes on the Septuagint of Amos,” VT 20 (1970), 108–112; Takamitsu Muraoka, “Is the Septuagint Amos VIII,12– IX,10 a Separate Unit?” VT 20 (1970), 496– 500; Takamitsu Muraoka, “In Defence of the Unity of the Septuagint Minor Prophets,” Annual of the Japanese Biblical Institute 15 (1989), 25–36.

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Hebrew masoretic version.26 The table gives a comparison of the two: διότι ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ στερεῶν βροντὴν καὶ κτίζων πνεῦμα καὶ ἀπαγγέλλων εἰς ἀνθρώπους τὸν χριστὸν αὐτοῦ, ποιῶν ὄρθρον καὶ ὁμίχλην καὶ ἐπιβαίνων ἐπὶ τὰ ὕψη τῆς γῆς κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ ὄνομα αὐτῷ.

‫ רוּ ַח וּ ַמגִּיד לְאָדָ ם מַה‬28‫ ה ִָרים וּב ֵֹרא‬27‫כִּי ִהנֵּה יוֹצֵר‬ ‫אָרץ י ְהוה‬ ֶ ‫שׁחַר עֵיפָה וְד ֵֹרְך עַל ָבּמֳתֵ י‬ ַ ‫שֵּׂחוֹ עֹשֵׂה‬ ‫אֱֹלהֵי ְצבָאוֹת שְׁמוֹ‬

For, behold, I am the one who strengthens thunder and creates wind and proclaims to humans his anointed, who makes daybreak and misty dark and treads on the high places of the earth. The Lord, the God, the Almighty One is His name.29

For lo, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind and reveals his thoughts to man, makes the morning darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of hosts, is His name.

Of the five present participles, the third – ἀπαγγέλλων εἰς ἀνθρώπους τὸν χριστὸν αὐτοῦ – is naturally the most intriguing. The Masoretic text ‫( מה שחו‬ma seḥo) was translated “his anointed,” as though the text read ‫( משיחו‬mešiḥo). Scholars have characterized this translation as the result of either mistakes in the text before the translator or a misunderstanding of the hapax legomenon, ‫( שחו‬seḥo), in the Hebrew.30 Scholars debate whether this specific translation was prompted by textual difficulties alone, or by a theological agenda which drove the translator toward a specific solution. However, all

26 For a survey of the bibliography on these versions see Shalom M. Paul, Amos: A Commentary on the Book of Amos, Frank M. Cross (ed.) (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 153–156. 27 On the verb ‫ יצר‬in Biblical Hebrew see Paul Humbert, “Emploi et portée bibliques du verbe yasar et de ses dérivés substantifs,” in Johannes Hempel and Leonhard Rost (eds), Von Ugarit nach Qumran (Berlin: Topelmann, 1958), 82–88. 28 On the verb ‫ ברא‬in Biblical Hebrew see Paul Humbert, “Emploi et portée du verbe bara (créer) dans l’Ancien Testament,” TZ 3 (1947), 401–422. 29 Trans. from W. Edward Glenny, Finding Meaning in the Text: Translation Technique and Theology in the Septuagint of Amos (Leiden: Brill Academic, 2009), 237. The George E. Howard translation in Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright III (eds), A New English Translation of the Septuagint (New York; Oxford: OUP, 2007), 792, reads: “For behold, I am the one who makes the thunder strong and creates a wind and announces his anointed to humans, makes dawn and mist and treads on the heights of the earth. The Lord God the Almighty is his name.” 30 See Glenny, Finding Meaning, 141–143, and references there. Cf. Anthony Gelston, “Some Hebrew Misreadings in the Septuagint of Amos,” VT 52 (2002), 493–500.

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agree that the end result reflects some sort of messianic theology.31 Regardless, the theological implications of such a translation are obvious, and this change is considered one of the more crucial messianic indications (which is not suspected as a later Christian addition) in the Septuagint. The identity of this “anointed” is debated as well, and scholars have suggested a High Priest, a Davidic king figure or a more universal eschatological figure.32 A few other changes are evident in the Septuagint text: the addition of the pronoun ἐγὼ, “I am,” which is missing from the Hebrew,33 and the rendering of the Hebrew ‫( יוצר הרים‬yoṣer harim), “[the one] who forms the mountains,” as στερεῶν βροντὴν, “the one who strengthens thunder.”34 Amos 4:13 in Christian Writings This verse, “a crux for the theological discussions of the day,”35 stood at the heart of many early Christian discussions and is quoted multiple times in the writings of the church fathers. The patristic interpretation of this verse “contributed greatly to the formulation of early Christian theology.”36 In a survey of the different references to this verse, Kelly shows that they mostly center on three issues: debates concerning the orthodox teachings relating to creation; God’s announcement of the anointed; and the creation of the wind/ Holy Spirit. Fierce debates are recorded between early Christian writers on these issues. For example, Tertullian uses this verse in his writings against Praxeas and Marcion, and different groups cite the verse in the controversy over the exact nature and office of the Holy Spirit.37 The three questions for which Amos 4:13 is invoked are not unrelated: the messianic addition preserved in the Septuagint translation called attention to the verse in the early Christian context, and other discussions emerged as a result. In what follows, I will concentrate 31 See e.g. Johan Lust, “Messianism and Septuagint,” in John A. Emerton (ed.), Congress Volume Salamanca 1983 (Leiden: Brill, 1985), 174–191; Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker 2000), 297. 32 See Glenny, Finding Meaning, 236–240. 33 See Glenny, Finding Meaning, 48. 34 See Glenny, Finding Meaning, 177–178, for possible reasons for this change. 35 James G. Kelly, “The Interpretation of Amos 4, 13 in the Early Christian Community,” in Robert F. McNamara (ed.), Essays in Honor of Joseph P. Brennan (Rochester, NY: Seminary, 1977), 64. See pp. 60–77 for a survey of these sources. 36 Kelly, “Interpretation,” 74. 37 See Kelly, “Interpretation.”

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on the Christian disagreements regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit starting from the fourth century CE.38 This debate focused on the Spirit’s ontological status: whether the Spirit is defined as part of the creator and the creation process of all things, or whether the Spirit itself is a “creature.”39 So, for example, we can find in Athanasius, the fourth-century bishop of Alexandria: The Son, like the Father, is creator … But if the Son, being, like the Father, creator, is not a creature; and if, because all things were created through him, he does not belong to things created: then, clearly, neither is the Spirit a creature. He continues to prove from the verse in Psalms 104:29– 30: “Thou shalt take away their spirit, and they shall die and return to their dust. Thou shalt put forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” That “it is clear that the Spirit is not a creature, but takes part in the action of creation.”40 In the 360s and early 370s we hear of groups that deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit in Asia Minor. The groups are called Macedonians (named after the exiled bishop of Constantinople, Macedonius)41 or Pneumatomachoi (Πνευματομάχοι: those who fought [the divinity of] the Spirit42). The polemical writings against these groups focused on showing the similarity between the works of the Son and the Spirit, thus denying the latter’s lesser position. This allows for the implementation of the Son’s definition, regarding the unity of its nature with the Father, on the Spirit as well.43 The use of Amos 4:13 to prove the creation of Holy Spirit and deny its divinity “is well known to students of the ancient Trinitarian controversies.”44 The Hebrew word ‫( רוח‬ru’aḥ) as an 38 Regarding the Holy Spirit doctrine, starting from the fourth century, see Richard P. C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (London: Τ&Τ Clark, 1988), 738–790. 39 A survey of these disagreements can be found in Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: OUP, 2004), 211–218. 40 Athanasius, Serap. 3.4–5. On Athanasius and his writings on the Holy Spirit see Hanson, The Search, 748–760. 41 This name is probably a misnomer; see Hanson, The Search, 760–772. 42 Karl-Heinz Uthemann, “Pneumatomachoi,” in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford: OUP, 1991), 1688. 43 See Michael A. G. Haykin, The Spirit of God: The Exegesis of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Pneumatomachian Controversy of the Fourth Century (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1994). On Athanasius see pp. 59–103. 44 Mark DelCogliano, “Basil of Caesarea, Didymus the Blind, and the Anti-Pneumatomachian Exegesis of Amos 4:13 and John 1:3,” Journal of Theological Studies 61 (2010), 644.

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absolute form (not in constructs such as ‫ )רוח הקודש‬does not denote Spirit, but rather “wind.”45 Therefore, Hanson pointed out that with the “magical wand of mistranslation,” the Greek pneuma for the Hebrew ‫רוח‬, created a misleading Trinitarian formula, which indicated the creation of a created Holy Spirit.46 He states further, “Had Athanasius been capable of appealing to the original Hebrew, he could have blown this proof sky-high in a sentence.”47 Thus, the reaction of some of the Christian writers arguing against these claims, such as Athanasius, is based on the Greek word used in this verse: he claims that, in contrast with other uses of the term pneuma, here the word denotes “wind” and not “Spirit.” Pneuma is meant as the Holy Spirit only when it is accompanied by the definite article or addition of specific words.48 Others, such as Basil of Caesarea, the Cappadocian fourth-century bishop, use the syntax of the verse:49 They cite two proofs that the Holy Spirit should be called a creature. The first is from the prophet, when he says: the one who gives strength to thunder and who creates spirit (Amos 4:13). The second is from the gospel: All things came to be through him (John 1:3). As for ourselves, we have been convinced that the prophet’s text does not refer to the Holy Spirit, but rather to ordinary wind, which is to say the current of air. This is clear from the following: he did not say, “the one who has created spirit,” but rather, the one who creates spirit (Amos 4:13). For thunder is not created once for all as a particular corporeal entity, but its nature is to be continually actualized and dissipated, effected by the will of God to scare human beings, and this holds true for spirit as well. At one time it comes into being as a flowing river of air; at another time it stops and the air that was earlier moving now comes to rest. All this happens according to the will

45 See the examples collected in Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, “‫רוח‬,” in Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew (New York; London: Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), 6481–6493. 46 Hanson, The Search, 749. 47 Hanson, The Search, 750. 48 See also Harry R. Smythe, “The Interpretation of Amos 413 in St. Athanasius and Didymus,” Journal of Theological Studies 1 (1950), 158–168; Khaled Anatolios, Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 133–147; Haykin, The Spirit of God, 67–68, n. 60 49 See Haykin, The Spirit of God, 104–169.

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of the one who administers all things for the well-being and maintenance of the universe.50 Basil bases his arguments against using the Amos verse on the fact that the verse uses the present tense, denoting a continuous creation, befitting a natural phenomenon. He goes on to say that the gusts of winds and thunder noises are part of nature’s elements meant to announce the presence of the creator to the world, and hence are obviously not part of the creator himself. Cyril of Alexandria, the fifth-century patriarch of Alexandria, addresses this controversy shortly in his commentary on Amos: I and no other, he says, am the one who establishes thunder, that is, who conceals the sky in cloud, sends down rain, creates wind, who is likewise Maker of winds. Announces to people his anointed … Here, you see, anointed does not mean Emmanuel, but the one anointed as king, and likewise wind not the divine and holy Spirit – even if some of those bent on distorting correct doctrines are deranged – but what is part of the cosmos and in the sky, to which the Savior himself also refers: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) He is saying, therefore, I am the one who assembles clouds and establishes thunder, and “draws winds from their storehouses,” (Psalms 135:7) who gives prominence to the one whom I choose to adorn with the kingly throne. Therefore, as King of kings and Lord of lords, by nature God, I am the one who makes the dawn, that is, day or daylight; I am the one who makes dark, that is, darkness or night; I am the one who mounts lofty places of the earth, who is superior and above everything lifted up and elevated, with a name fitting and very appropriate to his glory, that of Lord almighty.51 Cyril shows awareness of the controversy surrounding the translation of the word wind/spirit. He supports the reading of “wind” and

50 Against Eunomius 3.7, trans. Mark DelCogliano, Against Eunomius (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011), 194–195. 51 Trans. according to Robert C. Hill (trans.), Cyril of Alexandria: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, II (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 64.

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brings other verses to support his reading. Ambrose writes about the Holy Spirit as follows:52 Nor does it escape my notice that heretics have been wont to object that the Holy Spirit appears to be a creature, because many of them use as an argument for establishing their impiety that passage of Amos, where he spoke of the blowing of the wind, as the words of the prophet made clear.53 … Yet, that we may keep to our point, is it not evident that in what Amos said the order of the passage shows that the prophet was speaking of the creation of this world? He begins as follows: “I am the Lord that establish the thunders and create the wind [spirit].” The order of the words itself teaches us; for if he had wished to speak of the Holy Spirit, he would certainly not have put the thunders in the first place. For thunder is not more ancient than the Holy Spirit; though they be ungodly, they still dare not say that … But if anyone thinks that the word of the prophet is to be explained with reference to the Holy Spirit, because it is said, “Declaring unto men His Christ,” he will explain it more easily of the Lord’s Incarnation. For if it troubles you that he said Spirit, and therefore you think that this cannot well be explained of the mystery of the taking of human nature, read on in the Scriptures and you will find that all agrees most excellently with Christ, of Whom it is thoroughly fitting to think that He established the thunders by His coming, that is, the force and sound of the heavenly Scriptures, by the thunder, as it were, of which our minds are struck with astonishment, so that we learn to be afraid, and pay respect to the heavenly oracles. A bishop of Milan in the second half of the fourth century, and writing in Latin, Ambrose’s biblical interpretations were “central to the western intellectual tradition.” Seeing the events of his time as evidence of the success of Christianity in the eyes of God, Ambrose fiercely objected to those he considered heretics.54 In this

52 On the Holy Spirit (II.6). Trans. according to Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser. 10 (Philip Schaff, Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters), 120–121. 53 Ambrose’s version of this verse is slightly different than the Septuagint. 54 John Moorhead, Ambrose: Church and Society in the Late Roman World (London; New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, 1999), esp. chapter 4, “Church, State, Heretics and Pagans.”

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text, written around the year 381, he takes issue with those who read Amos 4:13 as testimony to the creation of the Holy Spirit. Like Basil and Athanasius, Ambrose insists that Amos refers to regular wind, and not to the Holy Spirit. He proves this by reading contextually and focusing on the ordering of the verse. In the latter half of this passage, Ambrose offers a second interpretation of the verse, this time interpreting the wind as the Holy Spirit, but in a way that is still theologically acceptable in his view. The reason for his willingness to consider this second reading, he says, is because this same verse introduces the anointed. This suggests to Ambrose that one might read other parts of the verse as referring not to natural elements, but rather to Jesus’ incarnation. This allegorical reading works well in this context, and to those who do not see it, Ambrose suggests that they “read on” (prosequere Scripturas) in the verses. In this passage, Ambrose cites a specific dispute with “heretics” regarding Amos 4:13. The argument focuses on the verb “to create,” and similarly the notion “creation” of the Holy Spirit stands at the heart of the argument between Ambrose and his heretics, as we also saw in the writings of Athanasius and Basil, among others. Ambrose, specifically, focuses on the context of the verse, and insists that the verse must be read in its entirety, not as fragmented pieces. This call is phrased as an exhortation to the biblical reader: “read on.” These elements are all found in our Talmudic passage, as well. Thus, although I am not claiming direct literary dependence of the Talmudic passage on this specific text from Ambrose, there are nevertheless clear similarities between these two contemporary literary genres centering on the same Amos verse, which I wish to highlight. These similar literary elements are evidently part and parcel of the boundary-making genre of discourse this book seeks to explore. In their handing of similar theological questions, namely, answering a heretic misreading of biblical verses, these writers use similar discursive strategies. The Christian Background for the Passage in b. Ḥullin If we are not aiming to demonstrate direct textual dependency, how do these analogous Christian texts help us to better understand the Talmudic narrative? I wish to propose that this and other passages in late antique Christian literature, describing similar issues related to Amos 4:13, can be useful for understanding the short and enigmatic passage in tractate Ḥullin, and its relation to the parallel text in b. Sanhedrin.

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Most importantly, such passages demonstrate that a verse which is central to a rabbinic-min dialogue also stood at the center of a much broader, and very crucial, Christian theological debate. Christians were reading this very verse and arguing vehemently about its meaning. In this case, the Peshitta version of this Amos verse is close to the Masoretic text.55 However, as mentioned in the first chapter of this book, I believe we can make a good case for the Talmudic author’s possible knowledge of major topics of discussion in Christian communities, including those in the West, particularly such a crucial issue as the status of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the possible connection of this Ḥullin passage to the Christian reliance on the different version of the Septuagint verse was already, briefly, raised by scholars such as Segal56 and Secunda.57 However, they focused on the addition of the τὸν χριστὸν αὐτοῦ as the declaration of the Messiah, while I focus on the Holy Spirit controversy, although, as already argued, the two are tightly connected. Cyril of Alexandria, Basil of Caesarea and Ambrose of Milan Before I turn to my own reading of the story, in light of this Christian background, I wish to address the question of the transmission of tradition.58 As mentioned in the first chapter, I do not think a genealogical connection between any of the Christian writers mentioned and the composer of the Talmudic passage is necessary for my general argument about knowledge of Western Christian tradition in the Talmud. We must consider the possibility that these traditions could have traveled to the East, even if we can’t trace an actual route of transmission. However, in the case of some of the specific Christian writers, a stronger argument about other routes of transmission might be possible. Let us take Cyril of Alexandria, for example. Many of the works of this “leading theologian of the Alexandrine miaphysite

ܵ ܿ ܿ ܵ ܿ ̇ ܿ ̇ ‫ܡܚܘܐ ܿܠܒ ܿܢ ̈ܝ ܵܢ ܵܫܐ ܵܡ ܿܢܐ ̄ܗܝ ܬ‬ ܿ 55 ‫ܚܬܗ‬ ܼ ‫“ ܸܡܛܠ‬Since he who creܼ ‫ܕܡܢ ܼܕ ̣ܒܪܐ‬ ܼ ‫̈ܪܘ ܹܚܐ ܼܘ ̣ܒܪܐ‬ ܹ ‫ܫܒܘ‬ ܸ ܼ ܼ ܼ ̣ ܼ ܸ ܵ ‫ ܼܘ‬:‫ܛܘ ܹ̈ܪܐ‬ ated the wind (=the same root as the Hebrew ‫ )רוח‬and created (=the same verb used twice, from the same root as the Hebrew ‫ )ברא‬mountains and says to men what his praise is.” 56 Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 118. 57 Secunda, “Reading the Bavli in Iran,” 335. 58 I am very grateful to Tobias Nicklas and Maria Doerfler for discussing this point with me, and referring me to many of the following bibliographical references.

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Christology”59 were translated into Syriac in manuscripts going as far back as the middle of the fifth to the middle of the sixth century, as explored in the work of Daniel King.60 We do not currently have an actual full Syriac manuscript of his commentary on the Twelve Prophets, quoted above. However, there is one leaf of a sixth/seventhcentury manuscript of his commentary on the Twelve Minor Prophets (not, unfortunately, of Amos), among other quotes in later Syriac anthologies from the eighth century onward.61 For example, a ninthcentury monk of Edessa named Severus created a Syriac compilation of previous writers to produce a commentary on most of the Old and New Testament. He quotes and uses Cyril’s commentary on Amos and Hosea among other books.62 Once again, I do not wish to claim dependence on Cyril as the source of Babylonian Talmudic knowledge of Christian debates over the Spirit in Amos 4:13. Our limited knowledge regarding this specific text in Syriac, at the time of the composition of the Talmudic text, prevents me from claiming probability of actual familiarity of the texts by the rabbinic authors. However, since I am not willing to commit to this book-oriented mode for transferring knowledge, I think the fact that I can find an early reference to this Holy Spirit discussion in Cyril of Alexandria, a popular writer in Syriac circles, geographically close to Jewish communities in Palestine, still makes my claim stronger. The arguments over the correct interpretation of Amos 4:13 and the ensuing debate over the nature of the Holy Spirit were so well known that there is no doubt that the Babylonian Talmudic author could have had access to them. Another example is Basil of Caesarea from Asia Minor, one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers. Despite his greater geographical distance, many of his Greek writings were translated into Syriac 59 Sebastian P. Brock, “Cyril of Alexandria,” in Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas van Rompay (eds), The Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2011), 109. 60 Daniel King, The Syriac Versions of the Writings of Cyril of Alexandria: A Study in Translation Technique (Leuven: Peeters, 2008). 61 MS Add. 17217 fol. 41: William Wright, Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1872), I, 484–485, and see p. 1265 there for references to citations in later Syriac florilegia. For example the seventhcentury Add. 17214, quoting Cyril’s commentary on Zechariah; Add. 17147, an eighth/ ninth-century MS with quotes from Cyril on Hosea, Habakkuk, Nahum and Joel; Add. 12168, an eighth/ tenth-century MS, Quotes from the Cyril’s commentary on the Twelve; Add. 14725, tenth- or eleventh-century manuscript, with quotes from Cyril’s commentary on Hosea and Habakkuk. I am thankful to Sergey Minov, Daniel King and Chip Coakley for their significant assistance with this point. 62 Add. 12144 (an eleventh-century MS). See Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts, 909.

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starting in the fifth century, and in the sixth/ seventh centuries.63 As David Taylor concludes: “St. Basil’s great popularity amongst Syrian Christians after his death [379 CE] is unquestionable.”64 He visited the area, fostered close relations with local Christian leaders and testified to having read monastic writings from Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia.65 Taylor points out the remarkable fact that the works of Basil were translated into Syriac more than any other language in the ancient world. For example, the translation of his work on the Holy Spirit (De Spiritu Sancto) is dated to the late-fourth and early-fifth century and preserved in three old manuscripts (from the fifth and early-sixth century).66 We have letters in which it appears that Basil attempted to form a pro-Nicene orthodoxy alliance with bishops from areas such as Sarug, Haran, Edessa, and in the other areas of Euphratensis, Mesopotamia and Coele-Syria.67 In these letters, he attacks what he considers heretical notions, among which are those of the Pneumatomachoi, discussed in this chapter. He appears to have been successful in creating these links to the Syriac-speaking Christians, as fifth-century historian Sozomen writes: “Basil, bishop of Caesarea, and Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen were held in high admiration and esteem throughout these regions.”68 At a time when the Arian controversy was raging, the Syriac church rallied around Basil in his anti-Arian struggle. Taylor concludes: St. Basil, and his fellow Cappadocian theologians, were far from isolated from the Syriac-speaking theologians to the South. The two groups developed strong political links, they held each other in great admiration, and through

63 See Brock, “Basil of Caesarea,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary, 64. The later translations were often closer to the Greek originals. 64 David G. K. Taylor, “Basil of Caesarea’s Contacts with Syriac Speaking Christians,” Studia Patristica, 32: Athanasius and his Opponents, Cappadocian Fathers and Other Greek Writers After Nicaea (1997), 213–219. The quote is from p. 213. 65 Taylor, “Basil of Caesarea’s Contacts,” 215. 66 See David G. K. Taylor, The Syriac Versions of the De Spiritu Sancto by Basil of Caesarea (Leuven: Peeters, 1999), introduction starting on p. ix. The text from which I quoted in this chapter is from Basil’s earlier work (364–365 CE). 67 On Basil’s trinitarian theology see: Stephen Hildebrand, The Trinitarian Theology of Basil of Caesarea (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2007); Mark DelCogliano, Basil of Caesarea’s Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names: Christian Theology and Late-Antique Philosophy in the Fourth-Century Trinitarian Controversy (Leiden: Brill, 2010); Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity (Oxford: OUP, 2009). 68 Historia Ecclesiastica. As quoted in Taylor, “Basil of Caesarea’s Contacts,” 216.

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the medium of bilingual theologians or translations they gained access to each other’s works and ideas surprisingly rapidly. Even more interesting is the fact that arguments about the nature of the Holy Spirit and the way in which the Greek and Syriac terms relate to the Hebrew ‫( רוח‬ru’aḥ) are known to have been one of the issues specifically discussed between Basil and “a Syrian who was as ignorant in the wisdom of this world as he was versed in the knowledge of the Truth.”69 Basil is discussing ‫ רוח‬in Genesis 1:2 with this Syriac-speaking theologian, and is willing, in this case, to accept that the Syriac version of scripture may be more theologically helpful than the Greek. In other words, on the specific topic of different versions for the terms describing the Holy Spirit, not only was there communication between Basil and Syriac thinkers, but the information traveled in both directions: both from West to East, and also from the Syriac theologian to Basil himself, and through his writings, to others in his surroundings.70 Another such example is Ambrose. Ambrose’s far-reaching influence even on emperor Theodosios might lie behind the possibility that his “exegetical patterns” reached Jewish circles in the East, or even closer, in Palestine, and from there reached Babylonia. Ambrose’s direct ties to Jewish persecutions, such as in the case of the 388 burning of the local synagogue in Syrian Callinicum on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, instigated by the local bishop, makes this claim even stronger. The emperor Theodosius ordered the rebuilding of the burned synagogue, but Ambrose intervened on behalf of the zealot bishop and his monks. Ambrose’s influence was so great that Theodosius recanted the punishment of forcing the bishop to pay for the rebuilding. Michael Gaddis71 and Ulrich Gotter72 demonstrate the ramification of Ambrose’s influence 69 Hexaemeron II.6, trans. according to Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: A Select Library of the Christian Church, 2nd ser. VIII, Letters and Select Works by Basil, Saint Bishop of Caesarea (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 63. 70 See Taylor, “Basil of Caesarea’s Contacts,” 216–217; Lucas van Rompay, “L’informateur syrien de Basile de Césarée: A propos de Genèse 1,2,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 58 (1992), 245–251. 71 Michael Gaddis, There is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005), 194–161. 72 Ulrich Gotter, “Zwischen Christentum und Staatsraison. Römisches Imperium und religiöse Gewalt,” in Johannes Hahn (ed.), Spätantiker Staat und religiöser Konflikt. Imperiale und lokale Verwaltung und die Gewalt gegen Heiligtümer (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011) 133–158.

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in cases such as these: the changes to the juridical situation for all of those who were not orthodox Christians were crucial. They could no longer trust the Roman legal system to defend them, and this encouraged zealots to commit more acts of violence.73 One therefore may posit that Ambrose’s far-reaching influence would have made his writings known in Jewish circles. As to the question of Ambrose’s actual ties to his local Jewish community, Neil B. McLynn determines: “There is no evidence that the bishop’s disquisitions upon such topics were complicated by actual contact with or even consciousness of the local Jewish community; ‘his’ Jews were drawn from scripture to help point his favourite contrast between letter and spirit, their narrow literalism providing a foil for the fertility of the Christian vision.”74 But other scholars, such as Hervé Savon and Lellia Cracco Ruggini, did assume that there were contacts between Ambrose and contemporary Jews.75 Shlomo Simonsohn showed archaeological evidence for presence of a Jewish community in Milan in the fifth and sixth centuries, and Ambrose himself mentions a synagogue (E 11.3).76 However, scholars such as Maria Doerfler77 minimize the connections between these Jews and the Church in general, and Ambrose specifically: “Unlike some of his Eastern contemporaries, Ambrose and his church appear to have had little if any contact with a local Jewish community … Jews, for Ambrose, were primarily literary characters that he encountered in his reading of scripture.”78 Obviously, and perhaps more importantly, the existence of historical ties between Ambrose and his community is not required for making the claim that his arguments were known to contemporary Jews, if his writings were later known in Syriac, in the East. While William Wright minimizes the acquaintance of Syrians with

73 On Ambrose and Theodosius, see also Neil B. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994), 291–360. 74 McLynn, Ambrose, 304. 75 Hervé Savon, Saint Ambroise devant l’exégèse de Philon le juif (Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1977) and Lellia Cracco Ruggini, “Ambrogio e le opposizioni anticattoliche,” Augustinianum 14 (1974), 409–449; see McLynn, Ambrose, 304, n. 44. 76 The Jews in the Duchy of Jerusalem (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1982). 77 Maria Doerfler, “Ambrose’s Jews: The Creation of Judaism and Heterodox Christianity in Ambrose of Milan’s ‘Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam,’” Church History 80 (2011), 749–772. 78 Doerfler, “Ambrose’s Jews,” 751–752.

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Ambrose,79 Doerfler describes a different picture: “He is, in fact, one of the very few Western theologians who successfully traverses the boundaries between Latin West and Syriac East.”80 Ambrose’s work was often misappropriated, but is clearly attributed to him by writers such as sixth-century Severus of Antioch;81 sixth-century John of Scythopolis is criticized for his dyophysite “mutilation” of Ambrose passages;82 he is quoted in a sixth-century manuscript of the Letter of Timotheus;83 late fifth- and sixth-century Mar Zakkai monks in the city of Callinicum argue over Ambrose;84 he is referred to in the writings of seventh-century John Maron; and the seventhcentury metropolitan bishop Gewargis I mentions him in his patristic florilegium.85 However, Ambrose’s Christology had even earlier uses in Greek sources, and not only in Syriac. If we do not limit ourselves to the search for Syriac uses of Ambrose for a possible route of transmission, and allow for the possibility of knowledge of his views through Greek traditions, these are very well attested. Of special interest to my own project, the passages from Ambrose’s De Fide ad Gratianum, later to be expanded in his volume “On the Holy Spirit” and discussed above, made an appearance at the Council of Ephesus (381 CE) and were attached in excerpts to Leo’s Tome86 for Chalcedon. At the Council of Ephesus (431 CE), Cyril also brought forward texts from Ambrose about the two natures of Christ. It is known that “[t]his text was translated four times before 452 from Latin into Greek: at Ephesus, for John of Antioch, in 450 at Constantinople from the florilegium for Leo, and in 451 at Chalcedon. Texts from Ambrose are also quoted in John Philoponus’ Tmemata.”87

79 In his Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts, III (1872), p. xx, he writes that Ambrose was known to them only by “quotations from his works as occurred in the Greek fathers with whom they were familiar.” 80 Maria Doerfler, “Glimpses from the Margins: Re-telling Late Ancient History at the Edges of the Law,” in Mark Letteny and Amy-Jill Levine (eds), Beyond Authority: Tradition and Transmission in Late Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming), 111. 81 See e.g. Contra Impium Grammaticum, esp. 3.2, where Severus argues that Ambrose is actually anti-Chalcedonian and that his writings were corrupted by the pro-Chalcedonian supporters to serve their purposes. 82 See Alois Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451), trans. John Bowden (London: Mowbrays, 1975), II:3, 159. 83 See Wright, Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts, 1052. 84 Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, 399–414. 85 See Lucas van Rompay, “Gewargis I,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary, 175. 86 Florilegium, fr. 7. 87 Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, 402, n. 82.

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In conclusion of this section, the arguments in the writings of Basil, Cyril and Ambrose of Milan about the use of Amos 4:13 as part of the Christian debate regarding the status of the Holy Spirit could have been known to the Talmudic authors. I emphasize that I do not claim that there was specific knowledge of their writings. However, this option can and should be taken into account as one of the many ways in which Western traditions made their way to the East, and to the collection of non-Jewish traditions known to the Talmudic composers. As emphasized in the first chapter, we must consider a much broader cultural system of transmission of traditions as the environment in which the Babylonian Talmud was composed. The texts themselves seem to suggest this, as I shall attempt to demonstrate, and the historical circumstances enable such a historical description. Ḥullin 87a and the Christian Argument from Amos 4:13 As discussed in the first chapter, I would like to suggest that what we read in the Babylonian Talmud is an exercise in guided imagery. That is, the Talmudic text is imagining itself participating in this larger debate and asking: if a Christian heretic were to walk through these doors and ask this question here, how would we answer? There is, however, a catch: if a heretic were to enter the rabbinic bet midrash and pose this question, he would have to use “their” text, and the argument would focus on the parts of the verse that are shared by both traditions – the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Septuagint. There is no anointed-announcement in the text that was used by the rabbis, and in our imaginary scenario, the discussion focuses not on this messianic declaration, but rather on the nature of the entity that is the subject of the act of “creation” and “formation.” As I have shown, the two are linked in the Christian uses of the verse, on both sides of the argument. However, the rabbinic passage focuses on the parts that exist in the Hebrew text as well. The argument thus should be read in light of the focus on the two unique verbs describing the creation of the entities in the verse, chiefly among them, the spirit/wind. The heretic advocates a reading of the verse that supports the creation of the Holy Spirit, and the end result is the ability of Rabbi to pull the rug from underneath one of the sides in the wider, non-Jewish discussion. I admit that I cannot prove that the min’s words in the Talmudic passage must be read in light of the Christian preoccupation with Amos 4:13 and its crucial importance to contemporary theological

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discussions. They certainly can be read as a simple claim for a dualistic creator. Sure enough, this is how it was understood in the parallel in b. Sanhedrin. However, the b. Sanhedrin passage would appear to be secondary to the b. Ḥullin tradition; the Talmud here groups together several verses in order to ridicule the Emperor’s dualistic assertion. Notice that in b. Sanhedrin, in all manuscripts, the question is framed as “He who created the mountains did not create the wind and he who created the wind did not create the mountains.” The distinction between the two different verbs for “creation,” which is the entire premise of the exegetical debate in b. Ḥullin, is lost in this phrasing, which focuses on the bottom line: who is the creator, and the question of whether there are, in fact, two creators. The b. Ḥullin narrative, by contrast, revolves around the distinction between these two verbs: “He who formed the mountains did not create the wind, and he who created the wind did not form the mountains.” This discussion is directly connected to the two acts of creation, which was also the premise of contemporary Christian debates surrounding this verse. It is as though we are meant to read: “He who ‘created’ the mountains [and all the rest of the natural elements,] did not ‘create’ the Spirit, which was ‘formed’ in an entirely different manner.” The Spirit is fundamentally different from the rest of creation, says the min, and this verse proves it. The verse is used in contemporaneous writings to prove that the Spirit is a creature, and thus not part of the creator, especially in its own creation. The authors mentioned above argue against this claim, and the Talmudic Rabbi joins their side as well. His response to this claim is to quote the end of the verse, which includes God’s name and dispels any notions of other godly elements. These words unite the various components of creation under one creation process, and one creator. According to this suggestion, Rabbi in fact supports the Christian writers who interpret the verse in Amos in reference to the wind and not the Spirit, in order to strengthen the unity of the creator. Moreover, the b. Ḥullin passage can be read as refuting the Christian reading of the verse by recentering the conversation around the Hebrew Masoretic text. The added pronoun ἐγὼ in the Septuagint version, “I am the one who … ,” does not exist in the Hebrew text. In the Hebrew, the list of present participles is not preceded by a grammatical subject, and therefore each participle can, in theory, be understood independently. This grammatical structure underlies the min’s claim in the Talmudic text. Rabbi’s response is that the final clause, “the Lord of hosts is his name,” refers back to the preceding participles. My suggestion is that we read this framing of the debate

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as an attempt to “bring home” these non-Jewish biblical textual discussions. This imagined discourse is the rabbis’ way of saying: if we were to have this conversation about the Amos verse using our text, the grammatical claim of certain Christian groups would be undermined, and would have to be discussed on a different premise than that which is debated in Christian circles. A few other clues would support situating the min’s question in b. Ḥullin in conversation with the Christian readings of Amos 4:13. As Halevy noted, the harsh tone of the debate, and the dire consequences both parties seem to expect will result from it, indicates that the stakes appear to be very high. This is understandable if we consider the importance of this verse in the wider contemporary discussion. Per early Christian writers, this is a verse that declares Christ and describes doctrinal truths about the Holy Spirit. In this context, staking a claim to the verse’s true meaning is no small matter.88 In what will follow I will use the fact that this story is uniquely richer in details than the other minim stories to determine its Christian background. I will demonstrate that the rest of the story contains explicit signs and clues, indicating the satirical portrayal of Christian themes.

Psalms 69:22 Let us begin with the verse quoted by Rabbi when he thinks that the min has returned with an answer to his initial response. This is a humorous scene, describing a starving rabbi who is about to break his three-day fast – the food-filled fork almost to his lips – when a visitor is announced. In frustration, he quotes Psalms 69:22, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” This is the only citation of this verse in the entire rabbinic corpus.89 In contrast, it is central in early Christian writings,

88 Perhaps some of the anxiety presented by Rabbi relates to the status of the Holy Spirit in rabbinic thought, although there isn’t enough information in the short story to confirm this option. 89 The verse does appear once in 1QH 12:11: ‫ויעצורו משקה דעת מצמאים ולצמאם ישקום‬ ‫חומץ‬, “They have denied the drink of knowledge to the thirsty, but for their thirsty they have given them vinegar to drink” (trans. according to The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar (eds) (Leiden; New York: Brill, 1997–1998), I, 169). See Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll, The Psalms of Lament in Mark’s Passion: Jesus’ Davidic Suffering (Cambridge: CUP, 2007), 75.

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used often to describe Jesus’ afflictions during his passion,90 most evidently in John 19:28–30:91 After this, when Jesus realized that everything was now completed, he said (in order to fulfill the Scripture), “I’m thirsty.” A jar of vinegar (ὄξος) was standing there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. Although the text does not explicitly quote Psalms, scholars as well as ancient writers understood this passage as an allusion to Psalms 69:22. The text in John “leaves it up to the reader to recall the psalm,”92 and Jesus’ suffering is to be understood as an allusion to the suffering in this verse. Jesus is therefore fulfilling the prophecies of scripture, which foretold the words Jesus would say while on the cross. The use of this verse, in the Talmudic story, is thus meaningful when read in light of its significance in the Christian world. This is in essence a satirical reversal: while Christians read this verse as a reference to the Jews’ giving Jesus vinegar during the crucifixion, in this instance the Christian min causes the Jew, Rabbi, to (metaphorically) drink vinegar. By showing up at the very last minute just as Rabbi is about to break his fast, he causes Rabbi to liken himself to Jesus in his prolonged suffering. Good Tidings Another possible Christian connection is found in the words of the second min. When he announces the death of the first min, he uses the words: ‫בשורות טובות אני אומר לך‬, “good tidings I say to you.”93 MS 90 All the gospels have a tradition involving vinegar at the crucifixion, but each has a different tradition. According to its use in antiquity, the giving of vinegar to Jesus might be viewed as offering a dying man a stimulating beverage or taunting him with a harmful, distasteful drink. See Robert L. Brawley, “An Absent Complement and Intertextuality in John 19:28–29,” JBL 112 (2003), 436. 91 See Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (xiii–xxi): Introduction, Translation and Notes (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970), 929; Donald A. Carson, “John and the Johannine Epistles,” in Donald A. Carson and Hugh G. M. Williamson (eds), It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture, Essays in Honour of Barnabas Lindars, SSF (Cambridge: CUP, 1988), 252. Brawley, “Absent Complement,” 427–443. 92 Brawley, “Absent Complement,” 439. 93 I am grateful to my student Yonatan Shmidt for discussing this point with me.

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Vatican has: ‫מבשר טובות אני לך‬, “I announce good tidings to you.” We find ‫ מבשר טוב‬in Isaiah 52:7 (‫מה נאוו על ההרים רגלי מבשר משמיע שלום‬ ‫מבשר טוב משמיע ישועה‬, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation”). However, in the entire rabbinic corpus, the verbal form ‫( מבשר טובות‬mevaser tovot) appears only here, and the nominal form ‫( בשורות טובות‬besorot tovot) appears very rarely. In fact, all of the appearances of this form are connected to the ‫הטוב‬ ‫ והמטיב‬blessing mentioned in m. Berakhot 9:2: ‫ ]ו[על שמועות‬.‫ ב' הטוב והמטיב‬.'‫על הגשמים ועל בשורות טובות הוא אומ‬ .‫ ב' דיין האמת‬.'‫הרעות הוא אומ‬ For rain and good tidings he should say, “Blessed [is he], the good and the doer of good.” For bad tidings he should say, “Blessed [is he], the true Judge.” Outside of this single context, the nominal form “good tidings” does not appear anywhere in the rabbinic corpus, aside from our story.94 However, the Greek equivalent of this term, euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον), carries special meaning in Christian tradition. Taken from its usage in Greek, the meaning of euangelion as “good tidings” in the context of announcements of important events such as births or victories had, as William Horbury writes, “quickly become[s] a quintessentially Christian term.”95 The “announcer” of Isaiah 52:7 had already been identified with the “anointed” of Isaiah 61:1 in Qumran literature.96 In Christian traditions this quickly shifted to denote the announcement of the coming of the kingdom by Christ. The word appears many times in the New Testament, especially in the Pauline corpus. The Greek term was used without translation, and at an early stage denotes written gospel-book,97 a meaning even preserved in the Babylonian Talmud (b. Shabbat 116a).

94 A close parallel might be the form ‫שמועה טובה‬, as in b. Giṭṭin 56b. The parallel, Lam. Rab. 1:5, uses the Aramaic ‫בשורתא טבתא‬. A Second Temple source worth mentioning is Megillat Ta’anit, 28 of Adar: “Good news (‫טבא‬/‫ )בשורתא טבתא‬came to the Jews, that they should not depart from the law.” See Vered Noam, Megillat Ta’anit: Versions, Interpretation, History (Jerusalem: Yad Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, 2003), 128, 312–313 [Hebrew]. 95 William Horbury, “ ‘Gospel’ in Herodian Judaea,” in Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner (eds), The Written Gospel (Cambridge; New York: CUP, 2005), 10. 96 See Horbury, “Gospel,” 26. 97 See Horbury, “Gospel,” 7–30.

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Given the significance of the term ‫ בשורות טובות‬in the Christian contemporary milieu, and its relative rareness in rabbinic sources, its appearance in the mouth of the min in b. Ḥullin takes on a particular importance.98 The storytellers are signaling to their readers the Christian background of this figure’s literary portrayal. Once again, the use of this term is satirical: while Christians use this exact term to announce the coming of Christ, in the Talmudic story the “good news” for the rabbinic Jew is that the Christian min, in a sense, is not coming; rather, he is dead. The satirical undertones of using this term is strengthened by its appearance in another Talmudic passage, as mentioned above. If the audience would have been familiar with the term, the satire would have hit its mark. Three Days If my reading above is correct, then we cannot ignore the significance of the length of Rabbi’s fast. Rabbi fasts for three days, and is then told that the first heretic is dead, and will not come. The parallel to Jesus’ own coming after his crucifixion is clear: Jesus returned after his crucifixion, and according to his own prophecy, after three days (or “on the third day” – e.g. Matt 12:39–40; 27:63; 28). The min in our story predicts his return after three days, but in the end, is declared dead, and is not coming. There might be another passage in the Babylonian Talmud that hints to Jesus’ promise to return after three days. In b. Sanhedrin 43a, Jesus’ death (by the Sanhedrin) is said to have been announced by a herald, forty days beforehand. According to this source, no one came to his defense, and Jesus was killed. Schäfer suggested that this detail in the Babylonian Talmud regarding forty days is meant to “directly contradict Jesus’ own prediction.” If Jewish courts always proclaim sentences publicly forty days prior to executions, then Jesus is presented as “a swindler and false prophet who makes a fool of himself in claiming to predict what everybody already knew.”99 If this reading in the story is true, then this Talmudic tradition is another example of rabbinic knowledge of this particular point: the pronouncement of a return after three days, in the Jesus narrative. Additionally, we might also consider the evidence for a three-day fast leading to Easter Sunday in Christian communities in the early

98 99

See Herford’s suggestion, albeit offered and rejected, Christianity, 243. Jesus in the Talmud, 70–71.

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centuries CE. We have evidence in different sources testifying to various customs of fasting on the days leading to Easter, the day in which Christ’s resurrection was celebrated. Most famously, Irenaeus in the second century comments: “For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night.”100 In the late thirdcentury text the Didascalia Apostolorum, we learn about fasting on Friday and Saturday and a few extra hours: “until the third hour in the night after the Sabbath.”101 Notice that the counting of “the three days” is somewhat flexible: This text seems to suggest counting of the days, along the lines of the rabbinic sources in which a whole day was counted according to partial days, and starting from sundown,102 in line with other contradictions concerning Jesus’ resurrection. Most famously, the New Testament texts about the resurrection are contradictory: Matthew, Luke Acts and 1 Corinthians all discuss the resurrection “on the third day” (τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ) – not after three days; however, the saying regarding the sign of Jonah, e.g. in Matthew 12:40, states that the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth “for three days and three nights” (τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας). So, if there was a known custom among Christians to fast on the days leading up to the coming of Jesus, having Rabbi fast on this occasion might be another satirical portrayal of this tradition. In the rabbinic story, Rabbi is the one fasting in waiting, but he celebrates the end of the fasting days when the heretic does not return.103 Standing at the Gate The pun might be even cleverer, if we take into account the way the misunderstanding is portrayed: while the reader may have had the impression that the min has returned, because he was reported to be standing at the gate, in fact he is never returning. The New Testament includes similar descriptions of signs for Him being near, standing

100 Preserved in Eusebius’ Church History (5.24.12), trans. taken from Schaff and Wallace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser. I, “Epistle of Irenaeus to Victor,” 243. 101 The Didascalia Apostolorum in Syriac, Arthur Vööbus (ed. and trans.) (Leuven: Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, 1979), 198–199. 102 See discussion in Paul F. Bradshaw and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011), 42. 103 I thank Michael Peppard and Andrew McGowan for this suggestion.

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at the door or by the gates: “Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door (θύραις)” (Matt 24:33 and also Mark 13:29; see also Luke 12:36). In a clear reference to Song of Songs “Listen! My beloved is knocking: Open to me, my sister my darling, my dove, my flawless one” (5:2), we find in Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door (θύραν) and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”104 Here the description of the Lord’s coming is even more explicit, and involves a festive meal immediately after his arrival. The rabbinic parody is therefore yet another pointed attack: The Christian min is thought to be at the gate, but he is not. He is quite dead. The feasting and eating indeed take place, but without him, and in the company of the righteous min instead. Falling off a Roof Another possible satirical element in the Talmudic passage is the combination of fasting and falling off a roof, which is also found in the New Testament. In Luke 4, Jesus is tempted by the devil in the desert for forty days, during which he does not eat. The devil asks him to perform several specific miracles in order to prove that he is the son of God. One such requested miracle is to jump off the roof of the Temple. Jesus refuses. Perhaps the min in the Talmudic story should be perceived in satirical opposition to Jesus: he does jump off the roof, but is not saved. However, the literary motif of death by jumping or falling off a roof is found in other rabbinic stories, although not often.105 I therefore suggest this connection to the New Testament with some hesitation. Do Not Gloat When Your Enemy Falls The phrasing of the second min’s announcement is significant regardless of the possible link between falling off a roof in the New Testament and in the Talmudic story. Note that the heretic uses the formula ‫“ – אויבך לא מצא תשובה ועלה לגג ונפל ומת‬your enemy could find no answer and so he went up to the roof and fell and died.” The use of the biblical word ‫‘( אויב‬oyev), instead of its rabbinic counterpart

104 See Jonathan Kaplan, My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Interpretation of Song of Songs (Oxford: OUP, 2015), 186. 105 See above for references.

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‫( שונא‬sone), is surprising. For example, the Sifre Numbers 160 (MS Vatican 32) states regarding the biblical verse ‫“ – והוא לא אויב לו‬And he is not an enemy to him” (Num. 35:23): ‫– ליפסול את הסונאין מלישב בדין‬ “to render the enemies unfit to judge.”106 Ours is one of the very rare cases in rabbinic literature in which the word ‫ אויב‬is used outside of a biblical quote.107 Seemingly the rare use of this biblical word in the Talmudic story is a deliberate pun on the verse in Proverbs 24:17: ‫בנפל אויבך אל תשמח‬ ‫ובכשלו אל יגל לבך‬, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” While Proverbs urges us to not gloat and rejoice at the metaphoric fall of our enemies, this story is about rejoicing and celebrating the actual fall of an enemy.108 Fool In addition to all the above, I would like to emphasize the use of the insult used by Rabbi towards the min: ‫( שוטה‬shoṭe), “fool.” This term was discussed extensively in Chapter 2, where I claimed that it suggests a misunderstanding of scripture. The correct interpretation of scripture was the focal point of arguments between different groups in the days of Jesus, and later as well. The insults “empty” and “fool” are connected to this polemical environment, and it is within this setting that the minim stories, such as this one in b. Ḥullin, should be understood. Given the relatively rare occurrence of this insult in the general rabbinic corpus, the Talmudic use of the term here is referential. In these Talmudic stories insults are used as social weapons. Both figures in the stories are labeled minim, heretics, a term used to place them in opposition to the rabbinic figures they encounter, in a boundary-making

106 See Aba Bendaṿid, Leshon Miḳra u-Leshon Ḥakhamim (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1967), 336 [Hebrew]. I am thankful to Moshe Bar-Asher for his help with this comment. 107 For the other example see Bendaṿid, Leshon, 206. 108 One more comment can be made here, but I am well aware of its relative speculative nature. This verse from Proverbs is mentioned in a strange Mishnah in Avot 4:19 where Shmuel haKatan cites the verse, and says nothing else. Commentators, such as Maimonides and others, explained that this might have been a verse that was associated with this specific sage, perhaps his favorite verse, often quoted by him. The very same sage, Shmuel haKatan, is said to have been the composer of the blessing against the minim used in the Amidah prayer in later Talmudic sources. Might there be a connection between the two traditions? The one about a min who falls to his death and the sage rejoices in his fall, and the other about a sage who often quotes the verse against rejoicing in the fall of enemies and composes the blessing calling for the fall of the minim? (I am thankful to Naphtali Meshel for this possible insight.)

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discourse. The heretic in question, however, is not only labeled as a min, but also labeled a fool. Consider the comparison to the second min, who can still come to bear good tidings to Rabbi and stays to celebrate the death of a fellow min. This min even passes some kind of a test over the wine. In contrast, the first min is offered a dual label: he is not only a min, but also, a fool who cannot read scripture. The method is seemingly easy – read on in the verses – and yet the inability to read correctly earns this first min the serious insult of being called a fool. He is thus firmly cast aside in a manner that is culturally punitive. Moreover, if I am correct in my suggestion, the use of the term “fool” specifically in relation to the first min is intentional: like the minim in the other stories, he misinterprets verses, which merits the same insult used in other sources. This fool is the one who misinterprets scripture. Cup of Blessing In the final section of the story, Rabbi celebrates the “good news” of the first min’s death with the second min. This character is identified as the “good min,” who is on Rabbi’s side in the debate with the other min. The celebration takes place in the form of a festive meal. The mere fact that a rabbinic sage is sitting to a meal together with a min is surprising. The interactions over a meal between different groups in late antiquity stood famously at the center of many of the discussions concerning identity markers of each group. Partaking of food was viewed as a social act that “creates and cements bonds between those who share a meal.”109 As David Kraemer pointed out: If I eat with you, I declare that I am socially involved with you in a way that is far more profound than, say, the exchange of words in the marketplace. Moreover, if I take your food, I indicate thereby that I am willing to place myself – symbolically and even literally – in your debt. On the other hand, to deny a joint meal with non-Jews signals the avoidance of such social relations. In rabbinic literature the mere “commensality between Jews and non-Jews is understood as potentially ‘idolatrous,’” and therefore eating with non-Jews is prohibited regardless of whether the food products are “kosher.”110

109 David C. Kraemer, Jewish Eating and Identity through the Ages (London: Routledge, 2007), 28. 110 Jordan D. Rosenblum, Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism (Cambridge: CUP, 2010), 36.

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In Christian literature we find a great deal of discussion regarding the social interactions between Christians and non-Christians, especially regarding table fellowship; for example, discussions about participation in pagan temple banquets, as I shall discuss below. These are central issues in two of Paul’s letters, Romans and Galatians, as evident from the fallout of the alleged “Antioch Incident” (Gal 2:11– 14).111 Later on, church canons famously emphasize the prohibitions to partake of meals with Jews on their day of festival,112 as well as the famous rebukes of John Chrysostom in his Adversus Iudaeos for those members of his community who join the Jews in their festival feasts.113 In rabbinic literature, as shown by Yehezkel Cohen,114 no rabbinic laws actually prohibited mutual hosting and dining between Jews and non-Jews. The Mishnah in Avodah Zarah 5:5 describes a meal between a Jew and a non-Jew, and how to avoid certain situations, in this otherwise approved joint meal. Other stories as well describe rabbis enjoying meals at the houses of non-Jews. Rabbinic sources testify to multiple positions within rabbinic literature regarding these shared meals (such as t. ‘Avodah Zarah 4:6).115 But, as can be seen from the Christian sources, even the rabbinic objections reveal a reality in which such meals, in fact, very much took place. However, the Tosefta in the second chapter of tractate Ḥullin (20– 21) does indicate strict prohibitions around dealing with food products of minim. I am not familiar with another case of a joint meal between rabbinic sages and minim in the rabbinic corpus, as uniquely described in the Talmudic story before us. Surprisingly, at the end of the shared meal, this heretic prefers a cup of benediction to money, but is still identified as a min, and is even recognized as part of a 111 For a survey of the sources and summary of the literature see Peter J. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law: Halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), 221–258. 112 See e.g. the Apostolic Canons (fourth century), canon LXX: “If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any one of the list of clergy, keeps fast or festival with the Jews, or receives from them any of the gifts of their feasts, as unleavened bread, any such things, let him be deposed. If he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.” Synod of Laodicea (fourth century), canon 37: “It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.” Canon 38: “It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.” Synod of Elvira (306 CE), canon 50: “If any cleric or layperson eats with Jews, he or she shall be kept from communion as a way of correction.” 113 Adversus Iudaeos 1.4–5. 114 Yehezkel Cohen, Ha-Yahas el ha-Nokhri ba-Halakha uba-Metsiut bi-Tekufat haTannaim (Ph.D. diss., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1975). 115 For another example, in b. ‘Avodah Zarah 8a–b, see Zvi A. Steinfeld, “On the Prohibition of Dining with a Gentile,” Sidra 5 (1989), 131–148 [Hebrew].

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great Roman family in the tradition attributed to R. Isaac.116 His Roman affiliation is, however, only mentioned in a separate, later tradition, and is not an integral part of the story. What kind of a min is the second min? A “good min” is rare in rabbinic literature. I know of only one other case in which a min is presented somewhat favorably, or at least as attempting to maintain a relationship with a rabbinic character. In b. ‘Avodah Zarah 6b, a min sends a dinar (=a currency unit) to Rabbi on “his festival day,” and the rabbis debates what to do with the dinar.117 Interestingly, here too Rabbi is the rabbinic figure in touch with a heretic. Of course this b. ‘Avodah Zarah source is not presenting such an intimate situation as dining with a min in celebration of the demise of a fellow min. I would like to suggest that this second min represents a different kind of paradigm of Jewish-Christian relations than the usual minrabbi stories. He obviously rejoices in the passing of the first min, identifying in this way with Rabbi; but he is nonetheless labeled a min. The min’s affinity with Rabbi’s position, and their joint celebration over the death of the first min, might indicate the second min’s theological position regarding the Amos verse and the creation of the Holy Spirit. He could very well be of the same position as Ambrose, and in agreement with the rabbinic interpretation of the verse. However, he is also presented as being put to a test: will he prefer to receive money or take a “cup of blessing”? His choice of the cup of blessing is presented as the correct choice, identifying him with the rabbinic understanding of the importance of this “cup of blessing.” The term “cup of blessing” typically refers to the recitation of the Grace after Meals over a cup of wine, as is the case here. The exact term only appears in the Babylonian Talmud (for example, b. Pesaḥim 107a), but the practice of blessing over wine, either during the meal or after, previously appears in the Mishnah (for example, m. Berakhot 7:5). This “cup of blessing” seems to play a central role in the Babylonian Talmud, as demonstrated by the traditions preserved in b. Berakhot 51a (MS Oxford 366): ‫ "עשרה דברים נאמרו בכוס של‬:‫וא'ר זירא א'ר אבהו ואמרי לה במתנית' תאנא‬ ‫ מקבלו בשתי ידיו ומחזירו‬.‫ חי ומלא עיטור עיטוף‬.‫ טעון הדח' ושטיפה‬.‫ברכה‬

116 See e.g. Herford, Christianity, 243–245, where he tries to identify the min according to his connection to known Roman families, but still reaches the conclusion that he is a Jewish-Christian. Schäfer, on the other hand, sees the min as “close to converting to Judaism” (The Jewish Jesus, 40). 117 And parallel in y. ‘Avodah Zarah 1:1 39b. See Grossberg, Heresy and Rabbinic Community, 89.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity ‫ "אף משגרו לאנשי‬.'‫" ויש אומ‬.‫ ונותן עיניו בו‬.‫ ומגביהו מן הקרקע טפח‬.‫בימין‬ ".‫ביתו במתנה‬ R. Zera said in the name of R. Abbahu, and some say it was taught in a baraita: “Ten things have been said in connection with the cup used for Grace after Meals: it must be rinsed and washed; [it must be] undiluted and full; [it requires] crowning and wrapping; [it must be] taken up with both hands and placed in the right hand; [it must be] raised a handbreadth from the ground; and [he who says the blessing must] fix his eyes on it.” Some say: “he must send it around to the members of his household as a gift.”

Later in this passage, the rabbis emphasize the importance of this practice by attesting to the grand reward it generates: ‫ כל המברך על כוס של ברכה כשהוא מלא נותנין לו נחלה בלא‬.‫וא'ר יוחנן‬ ‫" ר' יוסי בר חנינא אמ' זוכה‬.‫ שנא' "ומלא ברכת יי'י ים ודרום ירשה‬.‫מצרים‬ ".‫ ודרום ירשה‬:‫ שנא' "ים‬.‫ונוטל שני עולמים‬ R. Yoḥanan says: Whoever says the blessing over a full cup is given an inheritance without bounds, as it says, “And full with the blessing of the Lord; possess the sea and the south” (Deuteronomy 33:23). R. Yose son of R. Ḥanina says: He is privileged to inherit two worlds, as it says, “possess the sea and the south.” And the punishment of those who refuse to perform this practice is explicated as well (b. Berakhot 55a): '‫ מי שנותני‬.‫ ואלו הן‬.‫ שלשה מקצרין שנותיו של אדם‬.‫אמ' רב יהודה אמ' רב‬ ‫ והמנהיג עצמו‬.‫ וכוס של ברכה ואינו מברך‬.‫לו ספר תורה לקרות ואינו קורא‬ .‫ברבנות‬ Rav Yehudah says in the name of Rav: Three things shorten a person’s years, and these are: one who is given a Torah scroll to read from and does not read; [one who is given] a cup of benediction and does not bless; and one who assume airs of [rabbinic] authority. Wine is also used in Christian meals,118 and this very same “cup of blessing” is mentioned in the New Testament, as it becomes part of 118 Regarding wine as part of food and drink in early Christian meals see Andrew B. McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: OUP, 1999), 91– 95. I am grateful to Adela

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the Christian Eucharist.119 In 1 Corinthians 11:23– 25, Paul offers “the earliest attestation of the way Jesus instituted the Eucharist”:120 For I received from the Lord what I passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over took bread, and having given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, the cup too, after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” The “cup after the meal” mentioned here is “the new covenant,” constituting the central part of the symbolic meal ceremony, along with the bread. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul describes the proper Christian attitude toward idolatry, using the term “cup of blessing” when referring to the cup after the meal in the Lord’s Supper. It is a passage that “reveals how important the reverent celebration of the Lord’s Supper is for the life of the Christian community at any time and for the common ethical conduct of life in that community”:121 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the Collins for this reference and to Michael Satlow and Laura Nasrallah for suggesting the possibility of a connection between the Christian and Talmudic “cup of blessing.” 119 There has been a great deal of research on connections between early Jewish and Christian meals. See e.g. Karl G. Kuhn, “The Lord’s Supper and the Communal Meal at Qumran,” in Stendahl, The Scrolls and the New Testament (New York: Harper & Bros, 1957), 65–93, 259–265; Heinz-Wolfgang Kuhn, “The Qumran Meal and the Lord’s Supper in Paul in the Context of the Graeco-Roman World,” in Alf Christophersen, Carsten Claussen, Jörg Frey and Bruce W. Longenecker (eds), Paul, Luke and the Graeco-Roman World: Essays in Honour of Alexander J. M. Wedderburn (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2002), 221–248; Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966), 26–88; Reginald H. Fuller, “The Double Origin of the Eucharist,” BR 8 (1963), 60– 72. Scholars have suggested a connection to the cup mentioned in the Passover meal and debated which of the cups of the Passover meal the different Gospel traditions referenced; see Dan Cohn Sherbok, “A Jewish Note on to poterion tes eulogias,” NTS 27 (1981), 704– 709; Phillip Sigal, “Another Note to 1 Corinthians 10.16,” NTS 29 (1983), 134–139; Sigal, “Early Christian and Rabbinical Liturgical Affinities,” NTS 30 (1984), 63– 90. I agree, however, with Enrico Mazza, The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer, trans. Ronald E. Lane (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995), 66– 98, and David Instone-Brewer, Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 2004–2011), I, 83, that the “cup of blessing” should first be understood as the cup of blessing of Grace after any meal, which could have been understood as having been used also in the Passover meal in the last supper. 120 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 431. 121 Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 380.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Paul stresses that social interaction between Christians and nonChristians, particularly taking part in pagan temple banquets, does not go hand in hand with partaking in the Lord’s Supper. Paul asks whether drinking the cup of blessing as part of the Eucharist should ultimately serve as a separation marker between Christians and the participants in Greco-Roman temple meals. If the Talmudic min is indeed a Christian,122 the Talmudic story is in fact preserving a tradition that testifies to a religious praxis common to Jews and Christians. They share a meal together in celebration of the “good news,” i.e. the death of the first min. And both have in common the understanding of the importance of the “cup of blessing” for the Grace after the Meal. The cup of blessing is a separating marker between idol worshippers and Christians, but not between Jews and Christians. We need not presume that Rabbi and the min were performing some kind of a Eucharist together, but rather that both Jewish and Christian traditions hold the “cup of blessing” in high regard in the Grace after Meals ritual. This is evident in the Talmudic sayings quoted, and in the central place the cup holds in the creation of the Lord’s Supper. The ritual is thus a mutual element for Jews and Christians, and in the narrative, it would be a symbolic place for a “good min” and a rabbi to meet.

122 As opposed to Herford (Christianity, 243–245) and Schäfer (The Jewish Jesus, 40) who view the familiarity between Rabbi and the min an indication of the min’s affinity with Judaism in one way or another: whether Jewish-Christian (Herford) or close to conversion (Schäfer). Even Miller (“The Minim of Sepphoris,” 396, n. 74) who disapproves of Herford’s sweeping assertion, wrote: “That this second min is regarded as a Jew is evident from the passage.”

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This tradition might be evidence of the Talmudic author’s acquaintance with the Eucharist tradition. Such acquaintance would not be surprising considering the centrality of this ritual in Christian practice. In this context, it is interesting to note that Gerard Rouwhorst observed similarities in structure and content between the Jewish Grace after Meals (‫ )ברכת המזון‬and the fourthcentury Syriac Anaphora of Addai and Mari.123 Rouwhorst argues that these similarities between the Eucharistic prayer, which is used by Christians up to the present day, and the Jewish blessings, are not coincidental, but are rather “best explained by Jewish influences upon Syriac Christianity.”124 If he is correct, this might be viewed as outside evidence for additional contact between Christians and Jews on the issue of blessing over meals. More importantly, this Talmudic story is a narrative portrayal of a complex relationship between Christian minim and rabbinic figures, with its heroes and villains. The story describes those who threaten rabbinic tradition through their scriptural challenges, whose demise is cause for celebration; conversely, others are portrayed as ready to celebrate with rabbinic figures, and are in agreement with their theological position regarding the correct reading of Amos and the Holy Spirit. The story masterfully uses a realistic meeting point between the two. Let Their Table be a Trap for Them Ruḥamah Ṿais has observed a literary model of meals in rabbinic literature. In this model, rabbinic figures share a meal together, and during the meal there is a test of some kind, usually based on a halakhic challenge.125 In the stories she analyzes, sometimes the challenge is presented for general discussion, and other times it is directed at one meal’s participant in particular. Ṿais emphasizes that the test is the focal point of the meal, and the story ends when the halakhic test has ended. Ṿais then dedicates a portion of her book to meals with “outsiders” such as women and non-rabbinic figures.126 She notes that these meal stories represent a different meal model altogether, in which the challenging tests are absent, and the usual 123 Gerard A. M. Rouwhorst, “Jewish Liturgical Traditions in Early Syriac Christianity,” Vigiliae Christianae 51 (1997), 79–80. 124 Rouwhorst, “Jewish Liturgical Traditions,” 79. 125 Ruḥamah Ṿais, Meal Tests: The Meal in the World of the Sages (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hame’uḥad, 2010) [Hebrew]. 126 Ṿais, Meal Tests, 203–224.

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meal etiquette is present. These stories present an inclusive and tolerant attitude towards those who are not used to the challenges of scholastic rabbinic ways. According to this literary model, delineated by Ṿais, our minrabbi story does not fit the expected “others meal” model, but rather the rabbinic model of meal tests. The min in the story is presented with a test, and the story ends with his correct choice and a halakhic conclusion regarding the high value of the cup of blessing. This festive meal is a natural development of the plotline after Rabbi’s fast, but it might also be viewed as situating this second min within a rabbinic literary frame. He is a model of a min that has a halakhic common ground with Rabbi, and the ability to take part in the rabbinic literary meal challenges. The meal may even be viewed as a midrashic narrative stemming from the continuation of the verse quoted by Rabbi. As discussed above, Rabbi quotes Psalms 69:22: ‫– ויתנו בברותי ראש ולצמאי ישקוני חמץ‬ “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Interestingly, the following verse in Psalms (69:23), reads: ‫יהי שלחנם לפניהם לפח ולשלומים למוקש‬, “Let their table be a trap for them, a snare for their allies.”127 The verse describes a table, and by implication a meal, which serves as a trap. In one Talmudic passage this verse is used to describe the trap Queen Esther laid for Haman when inviting him to the meal with the king (b. Megillah 15b). Early Christian writers interpreted the verse as describing the trap into which the Jews fell when they failed to realize the fulfillment of the verses from Psalms in the suffering of Jesus (cf. Augustine, City of God 18.46). I suggest that the Talmudic passage in Ḥullin continues the reading of the passage from Psalms by incorporating the meal described in Psalms 69:23 into the story, using this narrative element in reference to the rabbinic protagonist, instead of Christians. Rabbi is the one being served the (metaphorical) vinegar, and he is the one setting the trap in the meal: he tests the second min while sitting at the table. Does the Second Min Subscribe to a Specific Theological View? After describing, earlier in this chapter, the theological discussion based on the Amos verse, which stands at the heart of the minrabbi dialogue, in light of contemporaneous Christian theological 127

I am thankful to my student Rephael Kauders for discussing this point with me.

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arguments regarding the status and nature of the Holy Spirit, I wish to return to the story and consider the second min. As mentioned above, this story is unique within the corpus of minim stories, at it portrays two different kinds of minim in one story: the “good” min and the “bad” min. The good min celebrates the death of his bad counterpart together with Rabbi in a festive meal. The cup of blessing is another unique aspect of the story: it portrays the joint meal between a rabbi and a min, as well as the performance of the commandment. These anomalies demand explanation. If the first heretic, based on his reading of the Amos verse, indeed makes claims about the creation of the Holy Spirit, then he is part of the Christian conversation of the fourth and fifth century on this issue. His position can be identified with the position opposed by writers such as Athanasius, Basil and Ambrose. In light of this, can we then recognize the views of the “good” min as belonging to the opposing camp? One that agrees with the views expressed by Basil and Athanasius regarding the unity of God, in contrast with the bad min who views the Amos verse as evidence of the separate, created nature of the Holy Spirit? In this case, the rabbinic reading of the verse aligns with Christian writers who read ‫( רוח‬ru’aḥ) denoting “wind” and not “spirit.” Both the rabbinic view and that of writers such as Basil and Athanasius refuse to use Amos as a source for theological conclusions regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit. In this case, Rabbi and the second min have a meeting point of sorts. The rabbinic interpretation of Amos is not different in essence than Basil and Athanasius. They represent a common ground in opposition to those “heretical” readings in Amos which are unacceptable to both. I believe this reading of the story also explains the use of the term min, for both the first and second characters in one story. According to this suggestion, the two minim represent two sides in an inner Christian debate regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit and the reading of Amos 4:13. The Talmudic author was aware of this debate, and created a story in which the rabbinic position aligns with one side of this argument. The second min and Rabbi agree on this point, in opposition to the first min. While the story goes on to describe the joint celebration between Rabbi and one side of the Christian debate, it introduces yet another meeting point between the two: the shared importance of the cup of blessing. Regarding this last issue, I offer my view hesitantly, since the story does not explicitly discuss the second min’s views on the Amos verse, only the shared happiness at the first min’s demise. But I think it is reasonable to consider that the Talmud here has created

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a wonderfully complex story. Even without recognizing any of the proposed Christian background, the story here offers a unique case where a rabbi and a heretic rejoice in the death of their joint enemy, dine together and bless over the cup of blessing. Even without knowing any of the suggested background regarding the interpretation of Amos 4:13, this story is uniquely multifaceted in its presentation of different types of minim. If my interpretation is correct, we might view the later addition of R. Isaac, who identifies the second min as a Roman, as a later attempt to separate between the two minim. While they are both referred to as minim, and the humorous confusion as to who is standing by the door would not be effective otherwise, in reality, according to R. Isaac, the first min is a Christian heretic, while the other is a Roman.128 A Roman eating with a rabbi is easier to fathom than a joint rabbi-Christian meal, and indeed other stories portray Rabbi himself interacting in this way with Romans, such as Antoninos. If we are to accept my reading of the main argument with the first min in light of Christian debates over this verse, and the second min as the opposition within Christian circles, we gain not only knowledge of the rabbinic authors concerning Christian traditions, but also of a nuanced view that is willing to present some minim as closer than others. As if to say, the enemy of my enemy can sometime be my friend, especially if we all agree on reading Amos 4:13 and drinking the cup of blessing. There are theological meeting points between the rabbinic perspective and the view of some Christian groups. Therefore the aspects that are particularly significant in the Ḥullin story are (a) the Talmudic awareness of such similarities, and (b) a nuanced description of the relationship between rabbinic and some Christian views, and the recognition that some are enemies to the rabbinic position, but others may not be. Conclusions The example of the literary genre of Talmudic minim stories brought in b. Ḥullin 87a was analyzed to demonstrate the importance of drawing on external knowledge in order to better understand the narrative’s content and context. As I and others have claimed repeatedly, as scholars of the Babylonian Talmud, we can no longer be satisfied with studying the Talmud from within the rabbinic sources. In some

128

I thank Chris Hayes for this suggestion.

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cases, we should be armed with contemporary Christian and other non-Jewish sources in order to better understand the rabbinic text. In this case, acquaintance with the major Christian polemical debates surrounding Amos 4:13, which are central to contemporary, late antique Christian writings, is crucial to understanding the debate between Rabbi and the first heretic in the story. The Christian debates illuminate the short interaction between the two over the biblical verse, and explain the apparent urgency of both of their reactions to this encounter, as well as its dire consequences. This reading sheds light on the possible Christian references in this passage, and highlights elements of irony and satire that would otherwise go unnoticed. If this intertextual reading is correct, it also offers a number of insights beyond the local passage in Ḥullin. For example, as explained above, it might establish the primacy of this passage over the secondary use of this tradition in the parallel passage in Sanhedrin. Most importantly, it adds one more piece to the historical puzzle scholars have been trying to solve: how much Christianity is in the Bavli? What can we learn about the rabbinic authors of these traditions and their knowledge of, and familiarity with, the Christian world around them? As mentioned in the first chapter I do not believe the stories discussed here represent anything resembling a tannaitic reality. In addressing this issue, Alan Segal reached the following conclusion: Since the method of argument is characteristic of third century rabbis and later, it is likely that even the ascription to Judah the Prince should be distrusted … The incident may never have happened at all but, if not, the creator’s imagination was fired by a real issue in the third century community. The tradition was eventually ascribed both to R. Judah and to R. Gamliel, since it seemed like an argument of sufficient ingenuity for these great teachers. I would follow in Segal’s footsteps in my distrust of named rabbis as a method for dating rabbinic passages, and instead regard this story as evidence of “a real” issue firing the imagination of the author. However, as demonstrated above, I prefer to view that background as later and Babylonian, rather than third century. This conclusion is based on the Christian material at hand rather than internal Talmudic clues. The Talmudic narrative here, and in other stories discussed in this book, does not make our task easy. The minim stories in

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the Talmud are almost always very short, and they are allusive at best. But I believe by now scholars have realized that this task of answering the historical question surrounding the Babylonian Talmud will have to be taken one small step at a time, and that we come closer to the answer with each and every example we study. This book, which analyzes several of these Talmudic minim stories, carries out this conclusion. Through this and the other examples in the book I can show that the minim’s questions are related in one way or another to broader, contemporary Christian biblical debates. Why then use R. Judah the Patriarch, or Rabbi, as the protagonist of this story? I believe the reason might relate to Rabbi’s portrayal in other traditions in rabbinic sources, primarily ones in which he is described as having close relationships with non-Jewish dignitaries such as Antoninos.129 Rabbinic sources preserve a few traditions testifying to the special license his position awarded him and his family, such as the permission to study Greek (y. Shabbat 6:1, 7d); drinking wine carried in Gentile wagons (b. Shabbat 122a); and the use of signature rings with images on them (y. ‘Avodah Zarah 3:1, 42c). Rabbi is portrayed as having contact with non-Jews, as well as liberties awarded due to his position and wealth. I think this sets the stage well for his portrayal as a polemic partner to one heretic, and for dining with another, closer, heretic. The examples in this book, and Ḥullin among them, build upon my own previous attempts to read a number of Talmudic narratives in light of Christian monastic stories. All of these cases, taken together with recent studies by other scholars, suggest that the Talmudic authors had some familiarity with the Christian world around them, as well as knowledge of different Septuagint versions used by Christian communities. This last point is not clearly referenced by the Talmudic story, since the Christ pronouncement is not mentioned explicitly. But I do think it is reasonable to suggest that there was knowledge of the inner Christian “spirit”/“wind” debate, which is so deeply connected to the Christ version in the second half of the story. Even writers such as Athanasius and Ambrose, arguing for understanding pneuma in the verse as “wind,” against the Pneumatomachoi’s “Holy Spirit,” still offer a second explanation in the same verse, with “a more special meaning” due to the passage’s 129 For a survey of Rabbi’s relationship with Antoninus in rabbinic sources see Ofra Meir, Rabbi Judah the Patriarch (Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hame’uḥad, 1999), 263– 299 [Hebrew].

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mention of Christ.130 The two arguments were tightly connected in the Christian discussions. As opposed to my previous work on parallel monastic traditions, in which I sought to demonstrate familiarity and analogous reception of Christian traditions in the Babylonian Talmud, this case deals with a different literary genre. First and foremost, dialogue is construed to display a polemical debate. The rabbinic figure opposes a heretic. I understand the polemical nature of the Talmudic portrayal of these discussions, the offensive name calling and the highrisk atmosphere, as a clear signal to the reader that this is a point of Jewish-Christian friction. In the monastic analogies, there were no explicit indications in the stories themselves of such a point of contact. On the contrary, the Talmudic passages bore no signs of overt literary connection to Christianity. These connections were revealed only following a parallel reading of Jewish and Christian sources. Here, the text calls our attention to the contact. Further, these rabbinic sources, the “monastic” sources in the Babylonian Talmud, showed no overt signs of polemics against the content of the Christian material from which they drew, but rather a type of appropriation of this material. Conversely, in the minim stories, we see a very clear dispute with an intra-Christian argument over the reading of biblical verses. I think that these are two sides of the same coin: the Talmudic authors place arguments with Christianity in broad daylight, while the incorporation of Christian literary motifs and narratives is more subtly interwoven into the rabbinic text. Despite these differences, both Talmudic minim stories and appropriations of monastic material impart to scholars two crucial lessons. First, scholars should be familiar with the external Christian sources in order to fully understand the Talmudic sources and the circulation of Christian materials. Second, the Talmudic material presents a complex picture of familiarity with Christian traditions. If we read our Ḥullin story as an intellectual exercise, in which the rabbis imagined themselves as part of the broader argument within Christianity over the interpretation of Amos 4:13, we must assume that they have enough knowledge of contemporary Christianity to interact with that debate. In this case, this is one of the only verses in the Septuagint in which early Christians saw a clear foreshadowing of the coming of Christ. It was an important verse, as is evident 130 See Smythe, “The Interpretation of Amos 413,” 160; Haykin, The Spirit of God, 65, n. 48.

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from its history of interpretation, and it touches on central dogmatic issues. Regardless of the mode of transmission discussed in the first chapter, apparently Talmudic authors were familiar with this particular Christian tradition, and used it in an exercise in guided imagery in the rabbi-min dialogue thus adding to the boundarymaking discourse with Christian interpretation of scripture.

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4 “REJOICE, O BARREN ONE WHO BORE NO CHILD”: ISAIAH 54:1 AND THE JEWISH-CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT IN B. BERAKHOT 10A

B. Berakhot 10a describes the following short dialogue between a min and Beruriah:1 ‫ "כתי' 'רני עקרה לא ילדה' משום דלא‬3:[‫ ל]ברוריה‬2‫אמ' ליה ההוא מינא‬ ‫ "שוטה שפיל לסופיה דקרא 'כי רבים בני שוממה‬:‫ רני?" אמרה ליה‬4‫ילדה‬ 6 ‫ רני כנסת ישראל שדומה לאשה עקרה שלא ילדה בנים‬5‫' אלא‬.‫מבני בעולה‬ 7 ".‫לגיהנם‬ A certain min said to [Beruriah]: “It is written: ‘Rejoice, O barren one who bore no child’ (Isaiah 54:1). Because she This chapter was co-authored with Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, and is based on two articles we co-published: “ ‘Rejoice, O Barren One Who Bore No Child’: Beruriah and the Jewish-Christian Conversation in the Babylonian Talmud,” in Christine Hayes, Tzvi Novick and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal (eds), The Faces of Torah: Studies in the Texts and Contexts of Ancient Judaism in Honor of Steven Fraade, Supplements to the Journal of Ancient Judaism (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017), 199– 220, and “The Hebrew-Based Traditions in Gal 4:21–31,” Early Christianity 9 (2018), 404–431. This chapter is an adapted and extended combination of the two articles. 1

Based on MS Oxford 366. The printed editions read ‫צדוקי‬. 3 MS Oxford has R. Abbahu conversing with the min instead of Beruriah. However, since the following story in this Talmudic section involves a conversation between R. Abbahu and a min, it is likely a dittography. 4 MS Paris reads: ‫משום דעקרה רני‬. MS Munich 95 reads ‫משום דעקרה ]ולא ילדה[ רני‬, and the words ‫ ולא ילדה‬are added by a different hand above the line. See below for a possible significance to this variation. 5 MS Paris reads ‫אלא אמאי רני עקרה‬, and the first printed edition reads ‫אלא מאי עקרה‬ ‫לא ילדה‬. 6 The Geniza Fragment (T-S NS 329.258) reads: ‫“ בן לגהנם כותיכו‬a child for gehenna like you.” Also, in MS Munich 95 the word ‫“ – בנים‬children” appears in shorthand ’‫ בני‬and is close to the next word. There are signs that these last two letters are a correction written over an erased single long letter, probably another attestation of the ‫ בן‬version. 7 All other manuscripts (the Geniza fragment and MSs Paris, Munich, Florence and also the printed editions) read ‫לגיהנם כותייכו‬, “for gehenna like you.” In the Geniza fragment (Bologna – Archivio di Stato Fr. ebr. 595) the word ‫ כוותייכו‬is an addition. 2

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity did not bear is she to rejoice?” She replied to him: “You fool! Look8 to the end of the verse, [where it is written], ‘For the children of the desolate shall be more than the children of the espoused.’ But rejoice, O community of Israel, who resemble a barren woman, for not having born children for gehenna.”

The dialogue centers on the interpretation of Isaiah 54:1: ‫רני עקרה לא ילדה פצחי רנה וצהלי לא חלה כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה‬ .‫אמר יהוה‬ Rejoice, O barren one who bore no child, burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor. For the children of the desolate are more than the children of the espoused/ the one who has had intercourse (‫ בעולה‬be’ula),9 says the Lord. A min is portrayed as posing a question to Beruriah concerning the meaning of the Isaiah verse. Prima facie the min’s objective in posing his question is to ridicule the biblical verse by pointing to its absurd content: why would a childless woman rejoice? The heretic belittles the biblical wording but does not attempt to use it as a source to support an alternative reading. Beruriah’s answer comprises two parts. The first is a simple reading of the rest of the verse in which the joy is explained by the fact that the barren woman, who in the parallel sentence is described as the desolate woman, now has many children. It is unclear whether the barren woman, in some way, has children in the present, or is prophesied to bear them in the future. The second part of the answer is a direct attack on the heretic. In contrast with the first part, here the methodological premise of the heretic’s question is accepted, and the first part of the verse is interpreted as a self-contained statement: the childless woman indeed rejoices in the lack of children. In this case, Beruriah explains, the reason for the barren woman’s joy is the presumed nature of the unborn children. These children are likened to the heretic himself, and since they are destined to hell, the mother is happy that they were never born.

8

Lit. “look down.” The word in Hebrew is ‫( בעולה‬be’ula), which denotes both of the meanings indicated by the translation in different stages. The Septuagint translation reflects the former. Due to this dual meaning, the untranslated Hebrew term will occasionally be used. 9

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The rather obvious answer to the question posed by the heretic (as Beruriah’s answer makes clear) puts to question the purpose of such a story. Does the story simply purport to mock a min for not being able to read a verse in its entirety, or is the intention to model a reading of the verse in its larger context? If the latter, why was this specific verse chosen? Additionally, the conversation between Beruriah and the min is presented in rather harsh tones. Beruriah calls the heretic “a fool,” and in her second response, according to most manuscripts, she says that the community of Israel is happy in its barrenness because she does not have sons “like you (plural)” who will end up in hell. The harsh response suggests that this apparently innocent conversation about the correct biblical interpretation is in fact a tension-loaded dialogue. This chapter proposes a new reading of this Talmudic passage, against the background of contemporaneous Christian biblical interpretations. The reading is based on a relevant New Testament passage that uses the same Isaiah verse, as well as a careful philological analysis of the Talmudic source and other parallel sources. This chapter, following the general approach of this book, argues that the heretic in this story should be viewed as presenting Christian arguments, and that his brief comment may refer to a Christian interpretive tradition of this verse. Awareness of the broader hermeneutical history of this verse in antiquity, and especially the Christian interpretive tradition, illuminates the charged nature of the Beruriah-heretic dialogue. The structure of this chapter includes (a) a survey of the interpretive history of Isaiah 54:1, focusing on ancient interpretations of the verse, identifying the main hermeneutical dilemmas in each interpretation, and discussing the manner in which these dilemmas shaped each interpretation; (b) a suggested reading of the Talmudic passage as a reaction to an interpretive tradition similar to that of Paul. The chapter concludes with a short discussion of the possible ramifications of the current study.

Isaiah 54:1: A Survey of Ancient Interpretation The goal of the following survey is to introduce the major interpretive challenges evoked by the original verse on the one hand, and to present various hermeneutical strategies used by readers prior to and contemporaneous with the rabbis on the other. Since the history of the interpretation of this verse has been discussed previously

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in biblical scholarship,10 the following discussion will focus on the analysis that might help to better understand the dialogue in the Babylonian Talmudic story. As will become clear from this survey, each interpretation must take the following three methodological considerations into account: (1) The Isaiah verse includes three Hebrew attributions: ‫‘( עקרה‬akarah) – “barren,” ‫( שוממה‬šomemah) – “desolate,” and ‫( בעולה‬beulah). This last term can denote “being owned” (especially in light of the parallel contrast in Isaiah 62:4), but may also denote “married” or “one who has had intercourse” (this distinction will prove relevant for the purpose of this chapter). Additionally, the Isaiah verse includes two negated verbs: ‫לא‬ ‫ ילדה‬and ‫ לא חלה‬both translated as “did not give birth.” An interpretation of this verse would have to define these terms and determine the semantic relationships between them in the context of the verse. Two of the attributes are positioned in opposition in the verse: ‫“ – שוממה‬desolate” and ‫“ – בעולה‬married/ non-virgin” in the following construct: ‫רבים בני שוממה מבני‬ ‫“ – בעולה‬For the children of the desolate woman are/will be more than the children of her that is married/a non-virgin,” and the attribute ‫“ – עקרה‬barren” seems to parallel with ‫– שוממה‬ “desolate.” As explicated below, each interpretation chooses one attribute as the point of reference for explaining the verse, or the focal point of the Isaiah verse. The identification of the other attributes follows from this choice. The difference between the various interpretations, accordingly, is to a great extent the result of the focus-attribute, which is assumed to provide the key for the remainder of the interpretation. Furthermore, as noted, the structure of the verse seems to suggest a parallel between ‫“ – עקרה‬barren” and ‫“ – שוממה‬desolate.” However, neither ‫ עקרה‬nor ‫ שוממה‬is a strict antonym for ‫בעולה‬, and at the same time, the two terms ‫ עקרה‬and ‫ שוממה‬are not part of the same semantic field. Therefore, there is a tendency to select one of the three attributions as the primary focus of the sentence, and to construe the others as perfect antonyms or synonyms of that term. 10 See esp. Mary Callaway, Sing, O Barren One: A Study in Comparative Midrash (Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1986) and more recently Michael Wolter, “Die unfruchtbare Frau und ihre Kinder. Zur Rezeptionsgeschichte von Jes 54,1,” in Paul-Gerhard Klumbies and David S. du Toit (eds), Paulus – Werk und Wirkung: Festschrift für Andreas Lindemann zum 70. Geburtstag (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 103–127.

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(2) Why should the barren woman rejoice? Is there something about her current situation that calls for joy in her state of barrenness, or is the happiness related to a future development, involving children? Will the children of the desolate woman be born in the future or do they already exist at the time of the call to rejoice? And if the latter, how can a “barren woman” have children? (3) Does the verse intend to describe an experience relating to two stages in the progression of one entity, or to compare the situation of two separate entities, one of which is currently an ‫עקרה‬/‫ שוממה‬and the other of which is currently a ‫ ?בעולה‬If the verse relates to one entity, the verse can compare a historical development (past to present or present to future); but if the verse intends to contrast two entities, the comparison probably relates to the synchronic situation of each of the separate entities, or of two entities in different time periods. Biblical Targums The Septuagint and the Peshitta offer a close translation of the Masoretic text and the word ‫ בעולה‬is translated “one who has a man” or in other words: “married” (τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα in Greek; bʽīltā in Syriac). Targum Jonathan offers the following translation: ‫ בועי תשבחא ודוצי כאיתא דלא‬,‫שבחי ירושלם דהות כאתא עקרא דלא ילידת‬ .‫ ארי סגיאין יהון בני ירושלם צדיתא מבני רומי יתיבתא אמר יהוה‬,‫עדיאת‬ Sing O Jerusalem who was like a barren woman that beareth not, rejoice with praise and be glad who was like a woman that conceiveth not: for more shall be the children of Jerusalem that was laid desolate than the sons of the inhabitants of Rome saith the Lord.11 The key to this interpretation lies in the adjective ‫“ – שוממה‬desolate,” in reference to Jerusalem. According to this interpretation, the verse refers to two historic entities: Jerusalem and Rome. Consequently, the attribute in the verse that describes Rome (‫ – בעולה‬beʽulah) is in opposition to the attribute that describes Jerusalem (‫– שוממה‬ šomemah, translated ‫ צדיתא‬i.e. “desolate,” or “ruined,” or “depopulated”) and thus translated ‫ – יתביתא‬inhabited. In light of this

11 Trans. according to The Chaldee Paraphrase on the Prophet Isaiah [by Jonathan b. Uzziel], trans. Christian William H. Pauli (London: London Society’s House, 1871), 185, and n. 1 there.

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interpretation, the call for joy stems from the prophecy for future change, as indicated by the tense of the copula ‫יהון‬, in which the offspring of the currently desolate city (Jerusalem) will outnumber those of the inhabited city (Rome). Philo of Alexandria Philo of Alexandria (On Rewards and Punishments 153– 161) offers two interpretations of this verse. The first is a description of the physical state of the land on sabbatical year, after years of mistreatment and neglect of sabbatical laws: When the cities have been thus consumed by fire and the country made desolate, the land will begin to take breath and raise its head – that land so long roughly handled in the grip of the intolerable violence shown by the inhabitants, who chased the virgin Sevens into banishment both from the country and from their thoughts … For this they themselves will receive the full measure of curses and penalties named above, but the land unstrung by the numberless mishandlings which it has undergone will now be relieved, disburdened of the heavy weight of its impious inhabitants. And when she looks around and sees none of the destroyers of her former pride and high name, sees her market places void of turmoil and war and wrongdoing, but full of tranquillity and peace and justice, she will renew her youth and bloom and take her rest calm and serene during the festal seasons of the sacred Seven, rallying her strength like a wrestler after his first bout. Then like a fond mother she will pity the sons and daughters whom she has lost, who in death and still more when in life were a grief to their parents. Young once more she will be fruitful and bear a blameless generation to redress the one that went before. For she that is desolate, says the prophet will have children many and fine, a saying which also is an allegory of the history of the soul.12 According to Philo, the Land, free of its usual agricultural burdens, free of war and wrongdoing, will rejoice in their absence, recuperate 12 Philo, On the Special Laws, Book 4, On the Virtues; On Rewards and Punishments, trans. Francis H. Colson, Loeb Classical Library 341 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1939), 409–413.

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and bear a new generation without faults. This interpretation refers to a process involving a single entity. Philo’s second interpretation is allegorical: the soul is able to free itself of its exhausting negative qualities and develop new positive ones, so it may rejoice even in its barrenness in anticipation of a better future: For when the soul is “many,” full that is of passions and vices with her children, pleasures, desires, folly, incontinence, injustice, gathered around her, she is feeble and sick and dangerously near to death. But when she has become barren and ceases to produce these children or indeed has cast them out bodily she is transformed into a pure virgin (ἁγνὴ παρθένος). Then receiving the divine seed she moulds it into shape and brings forth new life in forms of precious quality and marvellous loveliness, wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, holiness, piety and the other virtues and good emotions. Not only is it well that these goodly children should be brought to the birth, but good also is the expectation of this birth, the forecast cheering the soul’s weakness with hope. Hope is joy before joy, falling short of the perfection of the other yet superior to its successor in two ways, one that it relaxes with its unction the aridity of our cares, the other that it goes before as a harbinger of the plenitude of good which is to be.13 In both interpretations Philo reads the verse in Isaiah as describing a process for a single entity. In the former, which identifies the woman in the verse as the Land, the key adjective for the interpretation is the word ‫“ – שוממה‬desolate”; the latter is an allegorical interpretation, in which the soul is the referent of the verse, and here the attributive ‫“ – עקרה‬barren” – is viewed as the heart of the verse. Both interpretations have in common the understanding that there must be joy already in the barrenness stage in anticipation of the healing process. Philo discusses this point specifically at the end of his second interpretation, suggesting that “the mere expectation of such a birth is a blessing.” He goes on to explain why joy is present even at the stage of desolation, and how this joy surpasses the actual joy of the future birth. Interestingly, in both interpretations Philo seems to bring a fourth attribute into play: the “virgin” (τὰς παρθένους). The Land reclaims the missed sabbatical cycles that are described as “the virgin periods of seven years.” In this second stage, the Land becomes “young again” and fertile. Similarly, Philo writes about the soul: “but when

13

Philo, On Rewards and Punishments, 413–415.

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it is barren and has no such offspring, or when it has lost them, then it becomes changed in all its parts and becomes a pure virgin.” Here Philo equates the barren soul to a virgin and consequently describes the process of healing as “receiving the divine seed.”14 Both applications of the notion of virginity compare a barren woman to a virgin, and are likely to stem from the second part of the verse, ‫כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה‬, based on the understanding that a ‫בעולה‬ is “a woman who had intercourse” or “a non-virgin.” The next part of the chapter will disrupt the survey of late antique interpretations of the verse in Isaiah in order to explain this use of ‫ בעולה‬in Philo, which will prove useful for understanding the passage in Paul’s Galatians, as well as the Talmudic passage. ‫ בעולה‬in Late Hebrew The root B-ʽ-L is found throughout Semitic languages denoting ownership. It appears in nouns such as bēlum, “lord, owner” in Akkadian,15 or with an additional specification in the Hebrew, bāʽāl,16 and the Arabic, baʽl,17 meaning “husband.” In Akkadian, this root also functions in the verbal realm, with the verbs bȇlum, “to exercise rulership; to be in authority,” or buʼulum, “to make someone a ruler, an owner.”18 Similarly, in Biblical Hebrew, this root in the G-stem means “to be someone’s lord,” as demonstrated in the following verse: .‫יהוה אלהינו בעלונו אדנים זולתך‬ Lord our God, other lords besides you have possessed us. (Isaiah 26:13)

14 Philo’s interpretation here is linked with his allegorical interpretation of the Genesis story of the barren Sarah giving birth to Isaac. In both cases he presented a model of “fruitful virginity”: “[w]hether literally in a woman or allegorically in a soul, barrenness functions as a passive and receptive object for divine initiative and grace” (Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 154). Callaway ignores Philo’s first interpretation of the sabbatical year and the land, and focuses on the soul (as does Matthew S. Harmon, She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians (Berlin; New York: De Gruyter, 2010), 179, n. 175). 15 Leo A. Oppenheim, Erica Reiner and Robert D. Biggs (eds), The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1956), II, 191. 16 Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Mervyn E. J. Richardson (ed. and trans.) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), I, 143. 17 Hans Wehr and J. Milton Cowan, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (London: Harrap, 1976), 67. 18 Assyrian Dictionary, II, 199.

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As is the case with the additional meaning of the noun ‫“( בעל‬husband”), this Hebrew verb also developed the connotation of marriage, and it often describes the act of consummating a marital relationship. Thus, in the case of the marriage of a captive woman, this verb describes the act of a man upon a woman by which she becomes his wife: .‫ואחר כן תבוא אליה ובעלתה והיתה לך לאשה‬ Then you may go to her and perform the act of becoming her husband/her owner, and she shall become your wife. (Deuteronomy 21:13) As noted in some dictionaries, it seems evident that this act of ownership by which a man becomes a husband is sexual intercourse.19 This also seems to be the case in the following verse: …‫כי יקח איש אשה ובעלה והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו כי מצא בה ערות דבר‬ When a man takes a woman and performs the act of ownership, if she becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her … (Deuteronomy 24:1) Throughout the history of Hebrew, this verb underwent a semantic change. In Late Hebrew, the language of the rabbinic corpora, the verb specifically denotes the act of penetration that is part of the sexual act.20 Thus, one can find the following expressions: ‫בעילת זנות‬, “intercourse of [the nature of] prostitution” (m. Yevam. 6:5), and ‫בועלי נידות‬, “those who have sexual intercourse with menstruants” (m. Nid. 4:1), which do not connote the act of marriage. Other roots, such as ‫נש“א‬, N-S-’, originally denoting “to carry,” or ‫קנ“י‬, Q-N-Y, “to purchase,” are used instead in Late Hebrew to indicate the act of marriage.

19 Interestingly, this connotation is mentioned by lexicographers who were modern Hebrew speakers, since it is the meaning of the verb in modern Hebrew. See Menahem Z. Kaddari, A Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew (Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press, 2006), 114 [Hebrew]. Similarly, Avraham Even-Shoshan, The New Dictionary (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1985), I, 183. Cf. Koehler et al., Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, I, 142, who believe the meaning “to have sexual relations with” belongs only to middle Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic dialects. 20 Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew (Jerusalem, 1908–1959), I, 577 [Hebrew]; Gad Ben-Ami Sarfatti, “Studies in the Semantics and Homiletics of Mishnaic Hebrew,” Leshonenu 29 (1965), 241 [Hebrew]; Ezra Z. Melamed, “Taboos in Mishnaic Hebrew,” Leshonenu 47 (1982), 7 [Hebrew].

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In fact, in Mishnaic Hebrew the verb ‫ בעל‬only meant the action of penetration, to such an extent that the rabbis read biblical verses containing this root as if they indicate this particular act. Thus, some passages in rabbinic literature “misread” biblical verses that originally might have described an act of ownership, and assume they are describing an act of penetration. For example, the rabbis read Deuteronomy 24:1, quoted above, as follows: .‫ מל]מד[ שהאשה נק]נית[ בבעילה‬.‫כי יקח איש אשה ובעלה‬ “When a man takes a woman and performs the act of ‫[ – ”בעילה‬this verse] teaches that a woman is purchased [to be a wife] with the act of penetration. (Sifre 265:2) The verb ‫ בעלה‬is read by the rabbis as describing intercourse, rather than as an act of ownership. Similarly, the rabbis read Isaiah 54:5 (which appears shortly after the verse that stands at the heart of our discussion), as follows: .‫כי בעליך עשיך יהוה צבאות שמו‬ For your Maker is your owner; the Lord Almighty is his name. The two attributions ‫בעליך‬, “your owner,” and ‫עשיך‬, “your maker,” stand in opposition, and the rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud interpret them as if both expressions described a similar property: ‫ "אשה גולם היא ואינה כורתת ברית‬:‫אמ' רב שמואל בר איניא משמא דרב‬ "'.‫ שנ' 'כי בעליך עשיך יי'י צב' שמו‬.‫אלא למי שעשאה כלי‬ R. Samuel b. Inya said in the name of Rav: “A woman [before marriage] is a shapeless lump and concludes a covenant only with him who transforms her [into] a [useful] vessel, as it is written: ‘For you maker is ‫ ;בועליך‬the Lord of Hosts is his name.’” (b. Sanhedrin 22b) Transforming a woman from a shapeless lump into a vessel is clearly a (lovely …) description of the act of penetration, and the rabbis in the Babylonian Talmud understand that the woman’s formation as a container or a vessel is completed by the act of penetration, ‫בעילה‬. Returning to the form in Isaiah 54:1, ‫ בעולה‬is the feminine singular passive participle, which in Biblical Hebrew would generally mean “the one [fem.] being owned.” In order to express the legal status of

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a wife, Biblical Hebrew uses a special expression: ‫בעולת בעל‬, “owned by a husband.”21 In Late Hebrew, the terms used to describe a woman’s marital status are ‫מאורשה‬, “engaged,” and ‫נשואה‬, “married.”22 With the shift in the meaning of the root B-ʿ-L to indicate the act of penetration, the passive participle ‫ בעולה‬predictably came to indicate a physical state that contrasts ‫בתולה‬, “virgin.” This contrast underlies the following text in m. Ketubbot 1:6: .‫ משארסתני נאנסתי‬.‫ היא אומרת‬.‫והנושא את ]ה[אשה ולא מצא לה בתולים‬ ‫ לא כי אלא עד שלא אירסתיך והיה מקחי מקח‬.'‫ והוא אומ‬.‫]נסתחפה[ שדך‬ ‫ אינה נאמנת ולא‬.'‫ ור' יהושע או‬.‫ נאמנת‬.'‫ רבן גמליא' ור' אליעזר אומ‬.‫טעות‬ ‫ אלא הרי זו בחזקת בעולה עד שלא תתארס והטעתו עד‬.‫מפיה אנו חיים‬ .‫שתביא ראיה לדבריה‬ One who marries a woman and finds she has no hymen [the sign of virginity]; she says, “I was raped after my inchoate marriage, and his field has been washed away.” And he says “No, but rather [you were raped] before I married you, and my purchase was made in error.” Rabban Gamliel and R. Eliezer say: She is to be believed. And R. Joshua says: We do not live from her mouth, but she is presumed to have had intercourse before her inchoate marriage and to have deceived him, unless she brings evidence for her assertion.23 This passage contrasts a woman with an intact hymen (‫בתולין‬, often considered a sign of virginity in traditional societies) and a ‫בעולה‬, “[a woman] who has had intercourse.” The text clearly demonstrates how ‫ בעולה‬had become the antonym for ‫ בתולה‬by this period. Another example of this contrast is found in the rabbinic interpretation of Exodus 22:15: “If a man seduces a virgin (‫ )בתולה‬who is not pledged to be married (‫ )אשר לא אורסה‬and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.” Mekhilta deRashbi reads: .‫ ולא בעולה‬.‫בתולה‬ “A virgin” – this means a woman who has never had intercourse. 21 See e.g. Gen 20:3 or Deuteronomy 22:22. Cf. Koehler et al., Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon, I, 142. 22 Abba Bendavid, Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1967), 121 [Hebrew]. 23 This is based on Robert Brody’s forthcoming translation of this Mishnah in Hayim Lapin and Shaye Cohen (eds), Oxford Annotated Mishnah (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming).

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Thus, in light of all of the above, a reader familiar with Late Hebrew who is unaware of this historical development, might, and most likely did, read the form ‫ בעולה‬in Isaiah 54:1 in reference to a woman who was not a virgin. They did so in the same way that the rabbis “misread” this Biblical Hebrew root in other places (including in the same chapter of Isaiah) according to its Late Hebrew meaning. Philo’s equation of the barren land and barren soul to a virgin, too can only be understood if one assumes that he is relying on the Late Hebrew understanding of ‫ בעולה‬as “a woman who had intercourse” or “non-virgin,” rather than “one who has a husband.” ‫ שוממה‬in the verse is a contrast to ‫בעולה‬, therefore a ‫ שוממה‬must be a non-‫בעולה‬: a virgin. Since ‫ שוממה‬parallels ‫עקרה‬, this term too must denote “virgin.” If the argument were to be followed through to its logical conclusion based on our lexical knowledge and the data from the verse, the process would be as follows: It is given that, (1) The antonym of ‫ בעולה‬is a woman who did not have intercourse (lexical knowledge, i. e. its meaning in late Hebrew) (2) ‫ שוממה‬is equivalent to ‫( עקרה‬parallelism in the verse) (3) ‫ בעולה‬is the antonym of ‫( שוממה‬contrast in the verse) Conclusion: (1) ‫ בעולה‬is an antonym of ‫ ;עקרה‬hence, (2) if ‫ בעולה‬is read as “non-virgin,” then (3) ‫ עקרה‬means ‫בתולה‬, “virgin,” or at least a woman whose specific conception did not result from sexual intercourse It should be emphasized that this reading by Philo assumes that he understood the word ‫ בעולה‬in the Isaiah verse based on the Late Hebrew meaning, “a woman who has had intercourse,” which differs from the way ‫ בעולה‬was translated in the Septuagint (τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα = “the one who has a man”). While this point is tangential to this chapter, it may prove significant to the ongoing scholarly debate concerning Philo’s knowledge of Hebrew and his direct/indirect access to the biblical verses, or at least his awareness of other traditions of biblical interpretation that differ from those of the Septuagint.24

24 See Daniel Suzanne, “La Halacha de Philon selon le premier livre des ‘Lois Spéciales.’” in Philon d’Alexandrie Lyon, 11– 15 septembre 1966 (Paris: Éditions

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Galatians 4:21–31 In one of his early letters in the New Testament, Paul addresses Gentiles in Galatia in Asia Minor.25 This letter is considered “quintessential Paulism” in its theology, and is often viewed as representing “the living heart of Paul’s gospel.”26 In 4:21–31, Paul argues against opponents who claim that Gentile Christians need the works of the law, and refers to the verses in Genesis 21 that discuss Isaac and Ishmael. He interprets the chapter allegorically as relating to two different covenants: a covenant of slavery given to Israel and parallel to “the present city of Jerusalem,” and a covenant of freedom that parallels “the Jerusalem that is above”: Tell me, you who want to be under the law (ὑπὸ νόμον27), are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.28 His son by the slave woman was born in/according to/by29 the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα); but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise (δι’ ἐπαγγελίας). These things may be taken figuratively (ἀλληγορούμενα), for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia30 and corresponds (συστοιχεῖ) to the present du CNRS, 1967), 221–241; Gad Sarfatti, “Semantics of Mishnaic Hebrew and Interpretation of the Bible by the Tanna’im,” Leshonenu 30 (1965), 29– 40 [Hebrew]; Tessa Rajak, “Philo’s Knowledge of Hebrew: The Meaning of the Etymologies,” in James K. Aitken and James C. Paget (eds), The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (The Nicholas de Lange Festschrift) (Cambridge: CUP, 2014), 173–187. Much appreciation to Aharon Glatzer for the Sarfatti reference. 25 James D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Cambridge; New York: CUP, 1993), 1–17. 26 Dunn, Theology of Galatians, 2. 27 νόμος in this passage can be understood as both Jewish Law and scripture according to Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Church in Galatia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 241. 28 Regarding slavery and freedom under the law in Galatians see: 2:4; 3:26–28; 4:31; 5:1; 5:13. Betz, Galatians, 242. 29 In the Greek of the New Testament the function of the preposition κατὰ followed by a noun in the accusative, can denote either “according to” or “by means of.” See James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek New Testament (Bashville, NY: Abingdon Press, 1980), §2595. James L. Martyn, Galatians (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2010), 435, offered the translation “as a result of the power of,” because “both the flesh and the promise/ Spirit are powers able to produce children.” See below for discussion of this term. 30 This verse is at the heart of Paul’s allegory, and seems to suggests that the word “Hagar” was used as a name for Mount Sinai. For various textual problems see Franz Mussner, “Hagar, Sinai, Jerusalem,” TQ 135 (1955), 56–60. See also Michael G.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free,31 and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman (τῆς ἐρήμου) than of her who has a husband (τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα)” (Isaiah 54:1). Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise (ἐπαγγελίας τέκνα ἐστέ). At that time the son born according to/ by the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα) persecuted the son born according to/ by the Spirit (κατὰ πνεῦμα). It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son” (Genesis 21: 10).32 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

In this (difficult33) passage, Paul uses the verse in Isaiah to support his allegorical interpretation of the Genesis verses.34 The frequent citation of Isaiah in Paul’s writings has been noted in general, and scholars consider this an indication of the formative place Isaiah held Steinhauser, “Gal 4,25a: Evidence of Targumic Tradition in Gal 4, 21– 31?” Biblica 70 (1989), 234– 240; and Peder Borgen, “Some Hebrew and Pagan Features in Philo’s and Paul’s Interpretation of Hagar and Ishmael,” in Peder Borgen and Søren Giversen (eds), The New Testament and Hellenistic Judaism (Aarhus: Aarhus University, 1995), 151– 164. Regarding the location of Mount Sinai see Graham. I. Davies, “Hagar, El-Heğra and the Location of Mount Sinai, with an Additional Note on Reqem,” Vetus Testamentum 22 (1972), 152–163; Martin Hengel, “Paul in Arabia,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 12 (2002), 47–66. Josh Burns graciously supplied these two last references. 31 ἐλευθέρας can be translated both as “free” and more specifically, due to the Greek morphology, as “freewoman.” 32 On the different versions of the verse in Genesis see Christopher D. Stanley, Paul and the Language of Scripture: Citation Technique in the Pauline Epistles and Contemporary Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 1992), 248–251. 33 Harmon, She Must, 173: “On any list of difficult NT passages, Gal 4:21– 5:1 would certainly rank near the top.” See n. 156 for some of the many bibliographical references on this passage. For one of the more interesting contributions to this topic see Steven Di Mattei, “Paul’s Allegory of the Two Covenants (Gal 4.21– 31) in Light of First Century Hellenistic Rhetoric and Jewish Hermeneutics,” NTS 52 (2006), 102–122. 34 Regarding Paul’s use of Isaiah in Galatians see recently Harmon, She Must. The heavy use of Abraham traditions in chapters 3 and 4 in Galatians suggests that Paul’s opponents might have been using these verses as well in some way (see Harmon, She Must, 124, and references in n. 3). Especially interesting is the observation that the Isaiah verse is actually found in the Palestinian triennial Haftara cycle of these very Genesis verses, making Paul’s allegory a Torah/haftara midrash of sorts. If so, this passage supplies additional proof of the liturgical Torah/haftara reading practice as early as the first century CE (Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 173– 174; Di Mattei, “Paul’s Allegory,” 114, and n. 44).

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in the apostle’s theological framework.35 In this case, Paul wishes to draw an analogy between the two covenants on the one hand (one that in his view relates to freedom, and the other to slavery), and the two biblical characters on the other (Isaac, the son of the free woman, Sarah, and Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, Hagar).36 By doing so, he aims to explain the contemporary political situation of the community to which he speaks, and denies the need to observe the laws in the era following the coming of Christ.37 Paul not only compares the status of Isaac and Ishmael, he also notes a difference between them: the former was born according to/ by the spirit/promise (κατὰ πνεῦμα/ἐπαγγελίας) and the latter according to/by the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα). Paul establishes the contrasts shown in the table.38 Slaves: those who are under the law

The free people

Present city of Jerusalem

The Jerusalem that is above

The son of the slave woman, Son of the free woman, Sarah (“the Hagar, who was born in the barren woman”), who was born ordinary way (κατὰ σάρκα) as the result of a promise (δι’ ἐπαγγελίας)/born by the power of the Spirit (κατὰ πνεῦμα) According to the biblical story, Isaac was conceived by a barren Sarah only after a heavenly promise to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18). His use of the verse from Isaiah is meant to support his reading that Sarah conceived Isaac according to/by the spirit in contrast with Ishmael’s birth by flesh. Scholars have pointed out that in Paul’s allegory Hagar is identified as the one who has a husband, as opposed to Sarah, while in the biblical story Sarah is Abraham’s wife and Hagar is her servant.39 35

Harmon, She Must, 11. The traditional identification of the non-Sinaitic covenant with that of Christ has been challenged, and the Abrahamic covenant, or Abrahamic covenant understood christologically, has been proposed instead. See Harmon, She Must, 174, n. 159. 37 In contrast with commentators who seek a difference between Jews and Gentiles in this text, recent scholarship is in agreement that the discussion in Paul relates to the historical circumstances of his Galatians audience. 38 For a more elaborate table see Harmon, She Must, 176. 39 See Harmon, She Must, 177, and n. 168 there for further bibliographical references. Harmon notes the sexual meaning in the Greek wording, but goes on to interpret Paul’s words as referring to the denotation “married” of ‫בעולה‬. 36

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However, Paul’s interpretation seems to assume an understanding of the verse in Isaiah that is similar to Philo’s reading, according to which the word ‫ עקרה‬is a contrast to the word ‫בעולה‬. If be‘ulah is understood not to be a married woman but rather a woman who has had intercourse (as Hagar has) then the ‫( עקרה‬ʽaqarah, barren woman) is simply a woman who has not had intercourse, and the problem is resolved. Paul refers to Hagar as “the one who had intercourse” (instead of “a married woman”) and Sarah, in contrast, is “the one who did not have intercourse.” The natural next step is to call Isaac’s conception κατὰ πνεῦμα. In other words, Paul relies on the fact that Sarah is described as barren in Genesis 11:30, and consequently understands her to be the barren woman in Isaiah, who is also a non-‫בעולה‬, a woman who did not have intercourse.40 This virginity suggests both options of stage-level (true of the subject at a particular point in time) and individual-level (true throughout the existence of the subject) predicates, since in the case of Sarah, it would obviously be difficult to claim that she is a virgin in the sense of a woman who has never had intercourse. Rather, this description in reference to Sarah must indicate a woman who conceives without the sexual act. In Philo as well, being a “virgin” is a stage-level predicate, as the Land becomes “young again” and fertile. Similarly, Philo writes about the soul: “but when it is barren and has no such offspring, or when it has lost them, then it becomes changed in all its parts and becomes a pure virgin.” According to this, virginity can actually be regained. Callaway called this a model of “fruitful virginity”: “[W]hether literally in a woman or allegorically in a soul, barrenness functions as a passive and receptive object for divine initiative and grace.”41 Thus, Paul reads the verse in Isaiah not as a description of two stages experienced by one individual, but rather as a synchronic description of the two entities (Sarah and Hagar): one of whom is a barren woman with multiple descendants, while still remaining a non-‫בעולה‬. This can happen only if she is barren in the sense that she

40 Scholars have suggested that the connection between the verses about Sarah and those in Isaiah was noted earlier, perhaps as early as the Hannah narrative in 1 Sam 1. See second chapter in Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, and Di Mattei, “Paul’s Allegory,” 116, n. 48. Callaway brings into the interpretive history the traditions in Baruch and IV Ezra, in which Jerusalem is named “the mother of us all.” 41 Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 154.

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is a “non-‫ ”בעולה‬according to the flesh but blessed with children by the spirit. The following scheme exhibits the information from Isaiah 54:1 to its conclusion: Given that, (1) The antonym of ‫ בעולה‬is a woman who did not have intercourse (in Late Hebrew) (2) ‫ שוממה‬is the equivalent of ‫( עקרה‬parallelism in the verse) (3) ‫ בעולה‬is the antonym of ‫( שוממה‬contrast in the verse) Conclusions: ‫ עקרה‬means ‫בתולה‬, “virgin,” or at least a woman whose specific conception did not result from sexual intercourse. A point of clarification is required in order to support this proposed reading of Paul as depicting a non-sexual conception. Non-Sexual Conception According to the proposal outlined above, κατὰ σάρκα translates “by means of the flesh,” and κατὰ πνεῦμα “by means of the spirit.” The implication is that one son was conceived via sexual intercourse, while the other was conceived non-sexually, by the spirit. Various scholars suggested a similar reading in Paul according to which this passage assumes conception without intercourse. For example, Hans J. Schoeps finds the roots of Paul’s description of Isaac’s divine birth in Hellenistic writings;42 Daniel Boyarin goes back to the Genesis omission of Abraham’s knowing of his wife Sarah;43 and Matthew Thiessen found this reading in later medieval and nineteenth-century rabbis.44 However, these authors did not offer a linguistic and semantic basis for Paul’s reading of the verses in Isaiah, like the one offered above. The idea that Paul is proposing a non-sexual or virginal conception for Isaac has also been suggested by earlier interpreters of Galatians. Christian writers, eager to see Sarah as prefiguring Mary 42 Hans J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (Philadelphia: Westminster Press 1974), 156–157. 43 Daniel Boyarin, A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994), 269, n. 44. 44 Matthew Thiessen, Paul and the Gentile Problem (Oxford: OUP, 2018), 103–104.

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and Isaac as a figure of Christ, read Paul’s words, “by the spirit,” as pointing to such a conception. For example, the fourth-century Latin writer Marius Victorinus wrote: From this one can understand that Abraham had a son, not from their taking up bodily activity (non ex adsumptione inter se corporum), but based on the promise of God – if indeed the son of the free woman was born of a barren woman and conceived by a certain spirit, rather than by copulation.45 Modern scholars generally shy away from reading the notion of virgin birth into Paul’s writings,46 in part, because these interpretations attempt to align Paul with Jesus traditions. They bear signs of holistic interpretation, reading the Gospels into Paul. Scholars such as Frederick F. Bruce, stress that Paul does not explicitly mention Jesus and his virginal conception here in Galatians 4:21–31.47 Irrespective of any possible connection to the traditions of Jesus’ virginal birth,48 there is a strong case to be made that interpretive traditions found in this passage read the miraculous birth of Isaac in Genesis as an instance of non-sexual conception. 45 Stephen A. Cooper (ed. and trans.), Marius Victorinus’ Commentary on Galatians (Oxford: OUP, 2005), 324. 46 Although not all. See e.g. David Wenham, “The Story of Jesus Known to Paul,” in Joel B. Green and Max Turner (eds), Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans 1994), 298–300; Charles E. B. Cranfield, “Some Reflections on the Subject of the Virgin Birth,” Scottish Journal of Theology 41 (1988), 177–190; John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament (New York: Doubleday 1975), 274–277; Anthony T. Hanson, Studies in Paul’s Theology and Technique (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1974), 86–103; William C. Robinson, “A Re-Study of the Virgin Birth of Christ,” EvQ 37 (1965), 198– 212. See also Callaway’s proposal (Sing, O Barren One, 113), which references Philo’s interpretation, in which the woman allegorically represents the human soul, while the offspring of the virgin soul – the new and improved qualities it bears – are described as the byproduct of its having “received the divine seed.” Callaway suggests that Paul’s allegorical traditions about the barren one (the soul/ Sarah) bearing children (the qualities/ Isaac) through the divine seed/ by the spirit, are likely to have stood in the background of the creation of the virginal conception traditions in Luke’s infancy story of Jesus. Others, however, such as Frederick J. Murphy, “Review of Mary Callaway, Sing O Barren One: A Study in Comparative Midrash,” Journal of Religion 68 (1988), 453, labeled this statement as going “beyond the evidence,” arguing that, “[t]here is no real reason to posit a dependence of Luke on Paul here.” 47 Frederick F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: a Commentary on the Greek Text, New international Greek Testament commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982), 217. 48 Some scholars read this passage as an intermediary stage in the development of the Matthean and Lukan narrative of Jesus’ virginal conception. See the discussion in Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and John Reumann (eds), Mary in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press 1978), 45–49.

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Martin Dibelius,49 for example, suggests that Paul’s tradition regarding Isaac’s birth fits in with other, contemporary traditions. Dibelius finds later rabbinic traditions that preserve interpretations in which God facilitates human conception, for example, by supplying Sarah with reproductive organs.50 Dibelius also argues that in the allegorical writings of Philo of Alexandria (On the Cherubim 13.45), Isaac is described as being born through God’s spirit alone.51 In other words, Paul’s depiction of Isaac’s nonsexual conception is well-situated within contemporary biblical exegesis. Therefore, this exegesis in Paul stands on its own, regardless of the Jesus virginal conception narratives. Dibelius himself makes a point of denying any connection between Paul’s treatment of Isaac and Jesus’ virginal conception: Paul nowhere speaks of the miraculous birth of Jesus and clearly manifests the diametrically opposed direction of this interest: He lays decisive stress on the fact that Christ began his earthly existence like that of any other human being, through a natural birth.52 49 Martin Dibelius, Jungfrauensohn und Krippenkind: Untersuchungen zur Geburtsgeschichte Jesu im Lukas-Evangelium (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1932), 1–78. 50 Genesis Rabbah 47:2 (ed. Theodor-Albeck, 472): “God fashioned for Sarah ‫עיקר‬ ‫מיטרין‬.” Dibelius translates this term as “ovary,” while Albeck translates it as “uterus.” These are clearly significantly later traditions (recorded in a rabbinic midrash redacted in the fifth century CE), although they may represent earlier traditions, as is often the case. Another source that might be relevant is a Talmudic passage that portrays the shape of the “coin of Abraham” as though indicating that he was a ruler (b. B. Qam. 97b (MS Hamburg 165), cf. Genesis Rabbah 39: 11, Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 31:2):

‫ ואיזו‬.‫ דוד ושלמה מצד אחד וירושלם עיר הקדש מצד אחר‬.‫זהו מטבע של ירושלם‬-‫ אי‬.‫תנו רבנן‬ .‫ זקן וזקנה מצד אחד בחור ובתולה מצד אחר‬.‫היא מטבע של אברהם‬ What was the coin of Abraham our Patriarch? – An old man and an old woman on the one side, and a young man (‫ )בחור‬and a virgin (‫ )בתולה‬on the other One might speculate that this is a depiction of Abraham and Sarah, and that the contrast refers to the crucial moment of the birth of Isaac. Notably Sarah is depicted as a “virgin” and not as a “young woman.” However, admittedly the coupling of the attributions ‫ בחור‬and ‫ בתולה‬might be a simple integration of Ezek 9:6. 51 This interpretation by Philo was criticized by Pierre Grelot, “La naissance d’Isaac et celle de Jésus: Sur une interprétation ‘mythologique’ de la conception virginale,” Nouvelle Revue Théologique 94:6 (1972), 561– 585. However, it is defended by Reginald H. Fuller, “Review of The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 40:1 (1978), 119–120. See Mary in the New Testament, 48. Bruce, Galatians, 217, independently of Dibelius, refers to yet another Philo passage that strengthens Dibelius’ suggestion (Philo, De Fuga et Inventione 167). 52 Dibelius, Jungfrauensohn und Krippenkind, 29 (trans. from Brown et al., Mary in the New Testament, 47, n. 81).

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The suggestion brought here, in this chapter, is part of this scholarly trend, attempting to unveil the interpretational background to the creation of Paul’s Hagar-Sarah allegory, independent of the Jesus traditions. Paul’s exegesis, most crucially the connection of the Genesis narrative to Isaiah 54:1, is rooted in the notion that Isaac’s birth was “by the spirit,” i.e. the result of a non-sexual act. As other scholars have pointed out, “the use of Isaiah 54:1 in the allegory is otherwise quite intelligible without the exploitation of the description of Sarah as ‘desolate’ in the sense that Dibelius understands it.”53 The contribution of this chapter lies in the suggestion that this passage is best understood by assuming a Late Hebrew background for the word ‫בעולה‬. This reading is bolstered by the fact that the interpretation of the contrast between κατὰ σάρκα and κατὰ πνεῦμα provides a clearer understanding of Paul’s use of Isaiah 54:1, and is supported by a similar interpretation found in Philo. As noted above, according to this reading the preposition κατὰ should be translated “by means of.”54 Some readers rely on other Pauline letters that also contrast κατὰ σάρκα and κατὰ πνεῦμα, most notably Romans 8. They suggest that this contrast merely indicates “natural” and “unnatural/ supernatural” birth, as can be inferred from Romans 8:13.55 According to this reading, Isaac’s birth is unnatural only due to Sarah’s age and the fact that Sarah’s womb was already “without life” (as in Romans 4:19). However, one can easily read the contrast between “flesh” and “spirit” in both Romans and Galatians in a general literary sense, contrasting a bodily phenomenon with one involving the spirit (as is clear from Romans 8:4–5). Finally, it must be emphasized that this reading in Galatians, which draws a contrast between sexual and non-sexual conception rather than the general sense of natural and unnatural, satisfactorily explains the function of Isaiah 54:1 in Paul’s allegory. Paul indicates that this verse provides support to his reading in Genesis (γέγραπται γάρ, “it has indeed been written”), and according to this proposal, his support is for the understanding of “divine conception.” If there

53 Brown et al., Mary in the New Testament, 49, n. 88. See pp. 48–49, where Romans 4:19 is offered as a Pauline tradition in which Abraham’s paternity is apparently assumed. In theory, this poses a problem for Dibelius’ suggestion here, assuming that Paul’s views on Isaac’s conception are consistent throughout his writings. 54 See n. 29 of this chapter. 55 See Charles J. Ellicott, A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, with a Revised Translation (Boston: W. H. Halliday & Co., 1854), 79.

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is no claim for such a conception, it is unclear what function the verse serves, and how it supports Paul’s reading. The Late Hebrew Understanding of the Verse Assumed by Paul’s Reading Similarly to Philo above, one might object to this proposed reading of Galatians on the grounds that it assumes Paul’s knowledge of an interpretive tradition which relies on the Hebrew text of Isaiah 54:1 and its Late Hebrew meaning, whereas he quotes the Septuagint version of this verse in the Epistle.56 Scholarly positions on the extent of Paul’s knowledge of Hebrew vary, and researchers offer diverging assessments of similar cases, where citations from a Septuagint-like version of the biblical text depend on readings of the original Hebrew. Dwight M. Smith, for example, writes:57 The increasing appreciation of Paul’s Jewishness in scholarship since the Second World War bespeaks the likelihood that he knew Hebrew, as does the fact that his biblical exegesis has closer affinities with Qumran monastics and rabbis, who knew Hebrew, than with Philo, who did not.58 However that may be, Paul draws upon the LXX, or at least the tradition of Greek translation, when he cites Scripture. That he wrote and spoke primarily to people who knew only Greek, and no Hebrew, seems to be a sufficient explanation of this fact. Such usage would also be commensurate with Paul’s own experience and background as a native of Tarsus. David Lincicum offers: “There is no compelling evidence to doubt Paul’s knowledge of Hebrew and/or Aramaic.”59 Nevertheless, he suggests that Paul’s “almost exclusive proximity to the Septuagint” in some instances, alongside other cases where he quotes texts in a 56 Paul’s exact quote of the Greek version of Isaiah 54:1 has prompted scholars to categorize Galatians 4 as a Septuagint-based passage. For example, Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2016), 306: “It is the Greek text of Isaiah, not the Hebrew text, that shapes the intertextual space under consideration.” See also Martyn, Galatians, 441, n. 149: “Paul follows a Greek text firmly in the Septuagintal tradition”; Betz, Galatians, 248; and Martinus C. De Boer, “Paul’s Quotation of Isaiah 54.1 in Galatians 4.27,” New Testament Studies 50:3 (2004), 370–389 (esp. p. 370, n. 1). 57 Moody Smith, “Pauline Literature,” 273. 58 On Philo’s knowledge of Hebrew, see n. 24 of this chapter. 59 David Lincicum, Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 53.

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version closer to the original Hebrew, may stem from a “Hebraizing revision of the Greek text.”60 Lincicum concludes: That Paul’s citations for the most part evince a reliance on a Septuagintal text that has been partially revised toward the Hebrew, and that Paul has exercised some limited freedom in his reproduction of his Vorlage, are now well-established positions.61 Regardless of the question of Paul’s direct/indirect access to the biblical verses or his knowledge of Hebrew, it seems clear that one can make a solid case for Paul’s awareness of traditions of biblical interpretation that depend on some knowledge of Hebrew and that differ from those preserved in the Septuagint. Galatians 4:21–31 is especially interesting in this regard, as the passage alludes to several additional ideas rooted in earlier, Jewish interpretive traditions. Consider, for example, the assumption that Ishmael persecuted Isaac: “At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born according to the spirit.” As scholars have noted, this is a midrashic tradition that does not explicitly derive from the biblical verses themselves.62 It is based upon Genesis 21:9: “But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking (‫)מצחק‬.” The rabbis read this word (meaning “mocked,” “jested” or “teased”) midrashically as an indication of persecution.63 Another element of this passage, Paul’s use of the motif of “the Jerusalem that is above,” also has roots in earlier Jewish traditions.64 It is not a great leap, therefore, to suggest that Paul reads Isaiah 54:1 in accordance with a Late Hebrew understanding of the word ‫בעולה‬.65 60 See also Timothy H. Lim, Holy Scripture in the Qumran Commentaries and Pauline Letters (Oxford: OUP, 1997), 163–164. 61 David Lincicum, “Intertextuality, Effective History, and Memory: Conceptualizing Paul’s Use of Scripture,” in Florian Wilk and Markus Öhler (eds), Paulinische Schriftrezeption. Grundlagen – Ausprägungen – Wirkungen – Wertungen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017), 9–21, there p. 10. 62 Roger Le Déaut, “Traditions Targumiques dans le Corpus Paulinien? (Hebr. XI, 4 et XII, 24; Gal. IV, 29– 30; II Cor. III, 16),” Biblica: Commentarii Periodici Pontificii Instituti Biblici 42 (1961), 37–43. Shaye J. D. Cohen, “The Letter of Paul to the Galatians,” in Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (eds), The Jewish Annotated New Testament: New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation (Oxford; New York: OUP, 2011), 341; Betz, Galatians, 249–250; Martyn, Galatians, 444–445. 63 Inter alia, t. Sotah 6:6. 64 See survey in Martyn, Galatians, 440, and Pilchan Lee, The New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation: A Study of Revelations 21–22 in the Light of its Background in Jewish Tradition (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001), 53–229. 65 For additional studies demonstrating Pauline’s knowledge of traditions found in rabbinic sources see e.g. Benjamin D. Gordon, “On the Sanctity of Mixtures and

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In summary, this solution resolves the two major problems surveyed related to the joining of the Genesis narrative and Isaiah 54:1: (1) The depiction of Hagar as Abraham’s wife: This problem only arises if ‫ בעולה‬is read according to the Septuagint version as, “the one who has a husband.” According to the proposed reading, Paul understood the verse to refer to “the one who had intercourse,” which is an accurate description of Hagar. (2) The fact that Sarah is called ‫עקרה‬, “barren,” even after the birth of Isaac, and the absence of substantive engagement with the theme of barrenness in Paul’s other writings. According to this proposal, ‫ עקרה‬here does not mean “barren” but is simply the opposite of ‫בעולה‬. In this context the term denotes “virgin” or “a woman who has conceived without sexual intercourse.” Sarah fits this description, according to Paul, because she conceived Isaac “by the spirit.” Let us return now to other late antique readings of the verse in Isaiah, as part of the broad survey offered in this chapter. This survey will prove instrumental for our understanding of the Beruriah Talmudic passage. 2 Clement 2.1–3 2 Clement, the second-century epistle,66 interprets the verse in Isaiah as referring to the Christians: “Rejoice, you barren one who bears no children; break forth and cry out, you who endure no labour pains; for the woman who is deserted has more children than the one who has a husband.” When it said, “Rejoice, you barren one who bears no children,” it meant us, for our church was barren before children were given to it. When it said, “cry out, you who endure no labour pains,” it means this, that we should offer up our prayers to God sincerely, and not grow weary as women in labour. And when it said, “for the woman who is deserted has more children than the one who has a husband,” it meant that our people seemed to have been Branches: Two Halakic Sayings in Romans 11:16– 24,” Journal of Biblical Literature 135:2 (2016), 355–368, and Nathan Eubank, “Justice Endures Forever: Paul’s Grammar of Generosity,” Journal for the Study of Paul and his Letters 5:2 (2015), 169–187. 66 Christopher M. Tuckett, 2 Clement: Introduction, Text, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2012), 62–64. On p. 64 he carefully supports an early-middle second-century date.

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Like Targum Jonathan, this interpretation views the verse as referring to two different entities that are comparable in their historical circumstance. The barren woman is the church at its inception, but now she rejoices since she is more numerous than the other woman. However, we know the identity of only one group, “our church,” and not of the other. The author of this text does not seem to have been familiar with the writings of Paul,68 but some scholars have identified the other group, here as well, as Jews, similar to the two entities in Galatians.69 Pesiqta deRav Kahana (PDK) 20:5 The fifth century midrash Pesiqta deRav Kahana70 quotes two rabbinic views on the Isaiah verse: ‫ בחורבנה‬.‫ כגון אחז מנשה אמון‬.'‫ "ב]ב[ניינה העמידה לי רשעי‬:‫א'ר לוי‬ ".‫ עזרא וחבורתו‬.‫ מרדכי וחבורתו‬.‫ כגון דניאל וחבורתו‬.‫העמידה לי צדיקים‬ ‫ "הרבה צדיקים העמידה לי בחורבנה יותר מצדיקים‬:‫ר' אחא בשם ר' יוחנן‬ ".‫שהעמידה בביניינה‬ R. Levi said, [God said:] “When the Temple was standing, it brought to the fore wicked men, such as Aḥaz, Manasseh, and Amon. But when the Temple was in ruins, it brought to the fore righteous men, such as Daniel and his company, Mordechai and his company, Ezra and his company.” R. Aḥa, citing R. Yoḥanan, declared: [God said:] “When the Temple was desolate, it brought to the fore for Me more righteous men than it did when it was intact.”71 67

Text according to Tuckett’s edition, p. 87. See Wolter, “Die unfruchtbare Frau,” 117–118. Two other early Christian interpretations that did not rely on Paul’s epistle are Justin Martyr 1 Apology 53:5 and Epistula Apostolorum 33; see Wolter, “Die unfruchtbare Frau,” 120–121. Justin Martyr uses the Isaiah verse to discuss two groups as well, but he uses it to show the “numerical superiority of Gentile Christians over against Jewish Christians” (see Tuckett, 2 Clement, 141). 69 Lightfoot, Donfried and Wengst among others. See references in Tuckett, 2 Clement, 143, n. 22. Tuckett disagrees with this identification and determines that “[c]ertainly any polemic against non-Christian Jews seems remote from the author’s viewpoint here” (p. 141). He refuses to identify the other group: “A search for a real group (of those who ‘seem to have God’) in the author’s own context may therefore be unnecessary and inappropriate” (p. 144). 70 Strack and Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, 291–296. 71 Hebrew according to MS Oxford 151, Modified translation based on Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, English, translated from Hebrew and Aramaic by William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein (Philadephia: Jewish Publication Society, 2002), 447. 68

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This midrash reads the verse in Isaiah as praising the benefits of the destruction of the Temple. The barren woman (i.e. the temple) rejoices because now that she is in ruins she produces righteous, instead of evil sons (according to the opinion of R. Levi), or more righteous sons than previously, when she (the Temple) stood intact (according to R. Aḥa). The key to this interpretation seems to be the word ‫שוממה‬, “desolate,” and the entire verse is understood as describing one entity in a two-stage process: in the time of the temple and in the current time of its destruction, without considering any future development. It is possible that according to this interpretation the word ‫עקרה‬ is analogous to the word ‫שוממה‬, with the additional assumption of the midrashic move mentioned a few lines earlier in the Pesiqta 20:2: .‫ אומה שעקרוה אומות העולם‬.‫" עקורה‬.‫ "עקרה‬.‫א' ר מאיר‬ R. Meir, [reads the word] ‘akarah, [=“barren”] as [though spelled] ‘akurah, [=“uprooted”], A nation, whom the nations of the earth uprooted.72 R. Aḥa reads the verse’s promise of more children to the desolate woman ‫רבים בני שוממה‬, as the production of more righteous children after the destruction than those produced at the time when the Temple was intact (‫)הרבה צדיקים העמידה לי בחורבנה‬. The word ‫ בעולה‬here is not interpreted in its own right, but rather as the opposite of ‫שוממה‬. However, it is more difficult to connect R. Levi’s opinion with the phrasing of the second half of the verse, since it appears to discuss not the quantity of children but rather their quality. Thus, R. Levi’s reading can be understood as based on a rabbinic midrashic move, known from other rabbinic interpretations as well, that understands the word ‫ רבים‬not in the (more common) sense of “many” but rather in the (less frequent) sense of “great.”73 Thus, R. Levi reads the verse as follows: the one who is in ruins should rejoice, since the sons of the desolate are better, greater (‫)רבים‬, than the sons of the non-desolate: she bears children who are more righteous than those produced before the destruction.

72

Braude trans., 445. A meaning that can be identified as early as the Bible itself (e.g. in Num 22:15; Deuteronomy 33:7; Isaiah 19:20). See Ben Yehuda Dictionary, ‫רב‬, XIII, 6343, and Menachem Kahana, “The Biblical Version in Codex Vatican 32 of the Sifre on Numbers and Deuteronomy,” in Yaakov Sussmann and David Rosenthal (eds), Mehqarei Talmud, I (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1990), 5–7, esp. n. 20 [Hebrew]. 73

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Armed with the insights into the methodological and hermeneutical considerations involved in the interpretation of Isaiah 54:1, we may now return to the Talmudic passage in tractate b. Berakhot that is the focal point of this discussion. Specifically, the suggestion that the min’s words in the passage, as well as Beruriah’s response, are better understood in light of these earlier interpretations – especially Paul’s epistle. As mentioned earlier, at first glance the passage seems to ridicule the heretic’s question. It appears easily refutable and it is not clear what stands behind its phrasing. The proposed reading of the passage suggested here treats the heretic’s words not as a simple debate over the interpretation of this verse. The min does not intend to introduce a pseudo paradox in the biblical wording but rather to assert a polemical theological claim based on Isaiah’s language. This reading relies on a textual variation of the Talmudic passage as found in MSS Paris and Munich, and informs the interpretations of the verse by Philo and Paul and the PDK. The text according to MS Paris (as well as MS Munich 95 body of the text) reads: ".‫' משום דעקרה רני‬,‫ 'רני עקרה לא ילדה‬-'‫ "כתי‬:‫א"ל ההוא מינא לברורייה‬ ;'‫ "שטייא שפיל לסופיה דקרא – 'כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה‬:‫אמרה ליה‬ ‫' רני כנסת ישראל שהיא כאשה עקרה שלא ילדה בנים‬,‫אלא אמאי 'רני עקרה‬ ".‫לגיהנם כוותייכו‬ A certain heretic said to Beruriah: “It is written: ‘Rejoice, O barren one who bore no child.’ Because she is barren she is to rejoice.” She replied to him: “You fool! Look at the end of the verse, where it is written, ‘For the children of the desolate are more than the children of the espoused.’ But what then is the meaning of ‘Rejoice O barren one’? Rejoice, O congregation of Israel, who resemblest a barren woman, for not having borne children like you for gehenna.” In this text, the min does not ask ‫“ משום דלא ילדה רני‬Because she did not bear is she to rejoice[?!]” as in the other MSs, but rather affirms ‫“ משום דעקרה רני‬Because she is barren she is to rejoice!” The heretic’s words should be read not as a rhetorical question but rather as a declarative statement, and this statement provokes Beruriah’s harsh response. This response could be understood if the min’s words were created by the Talmudic author to echo a Christian tradition that uses this verse in a context of Jewish-Christian polemics.

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135

As in other stories discussed in this book, the heretic’s words do not spell out the full Christian argument. The short reference to Christian traditions assumes broader knowledge than is actually presented in the rabbinic source itself. In this case, Paul’s epistle provides important assistance in deciphering this background. In this attempt to reconstruct the background to the min’s words, we must remember that Paul’s message in Galatians had a great impact on early Christian interpretations of Isaiah 54:1. It had such an impact that almost all future interpretations of this verse relied on Paul’s reading. According to Wolter the only three early Christian interpretations that did not rely on Paul’s epistle are 2 Clement 2.1–3; Justin Martyr, First Apology 53.5 and Epistula Apostolorum 33.74 Scholars today are generally in agreement that Paul was not referring to Jews and Gentiles, but rather to groups arguing about law observance in his local Galatians audience.75 However, later readers of Paul, starting with Tertullian76 already assumed that he was referring to Jews and Christians. In light of Paul’s allegorical tradition, the min’s statement can be read as a Talmudic literary creation, a summary of the view according to which there is a cause for rejoicing in barrenness. As we saw in Philo’s reading, as well as Paul’s, the barren one is understood to be a non-‫בעולה‬, i.e. one who has not had intercourse. The heretic’s reading affirms the superiority of the non-‫ בעולה‬state. The virgin in the min’s reading can refer to the entire Christian community, as Paul’s Letter to the Galatians was interpreted. It might even refer to the virgin birth of Jesus himself, since early writers, intent on viewing Sarah as prefiguring Mary, and Isaac as a type of Christ, read Paul’s words “by the spirit” as indicating such conception. Regardless, the min’s statement affirms the use of the Isaiah verse to express its validity

74

Wolter, “Die unfruchtbare Frau,” 120–121. Cohen, “Galatians,” 382. E.g. Di Mattei (“Paul’s Allegory,” 120–121) emphasizes that Paul is not claiming that the Jews are now the sons of Hagar and the Gentiles the true sons of Sarah, but rather discusses the two covenants and asks his audience to choose the free one. While this reading addresses the anti-Jewish sentiment, it poses a problem to Paul’s description of a persecution of one group by the other; see Martyn, Galatians, 445. For bibliographical references concerning the identity of the entity to which Paul is referring, whether it is Judaism which requires Torah-observance, or the Jerusalem church that asks Christian Gentiles to become Law-observant, see Harmon, She Must, 175, n. 161. 76 Adversus Marcionem 5.4, 8. See Irene Pabst, “The Interpretation of the SarahHagar-Stories in Rabbinic and Patristic Literature. Sarah and Hagar as Female Representations of Identity and Difference,” Lectio Difficilior 1 (2003), online at www.lectio.unibe.ch/03_1/pabst.htm. 75

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and superiority. If we assume that the min’s argument is similar to Paul’s, then his interpretation includes two components: (1) Joy about the present situation; (2) The barren one should be understood as a non-‫בעולה‬, who nonetheless has many children. This interpretation relies on the understanding that the barren woman is a contrast to the ‫“ – בעולה‬the one who has had intercourse.” It is clear from the heretic’s few words that the crux of the argument is the reason for the joy. Why should one rejoice? The min’s answer: because she is a non-‫( בעולה‬according to MS Paris and Munich). Paul’s tradition helps us understand the reason for the non-‫’בעולה‬s joy: the verse in its entirety refers to a non-‫בעולה‬, and yet she has multiple children and thus has reason to rejoice. The Babylonian Talmud’s heretic is therefore posing this challenge to Beruriah: the verse proves the joy of the non-‫בעולה‬, i.e. the current Christians who are children of the covenant according to the spirit and not the flesh, i.e. Sarah who conceived Isaac without intercourse, and not Hagar the wife who has had intercourse. In this context Beruriah’s response is appropriately harsh. She begins by challenging the min’s equation of the barren one with the non-‫בעולה‬. This equation relies on the parallel created by the verse between ‫ עקרה‬and ‫שוממה‬, and the contrast of ‫ שוממה‬and ‫בעולה‬. The meaning of ‫“ – שוממה‬desolate”– is ignored in this equation. Beruriah accordingly calls attention to the contrast between ‫ שוממה‬and ‫בעולה‬ at the end of the verse. Based on this contrast, and on the equation of ‫ שוממה‬and ‫עקרה‬, the term ‫ עקרה‬must denote “having no children” rather than “not having had intercourse.” Beruriah continues her explanation by paraphrasing Isaiah 54:1. Beruriah’s words, like R. Levi’s statement in PDK, should be understood as interpreting the word ‫ רבים‬as an attribute describing the superior quality of one group of sons over the other. But unlike PDK that reads the verse in reference to a single entity before and after the destruction of the Temple, Beruriah reads the verse as comparing two communities– Jews and Christians, similar to later interpretations of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. Thus, Beruriah responds to the min as follows: ‫שטייא שפיל לסופיה‬ ‫“ –”כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה“ דקרא‬you fool, read to the end of the verse and see that it does not discuss the non-sexuality of the woman, but rather, the focus is on the outcome: the quality of the sons, ‫כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה‬, for the sons of the ‫( שוממה‬who is also the ‫ )עקרה‬are superior to those of the ‫בעולה‬.” She then clarifies the meaning of the word ‫ עקרה‬by paraphrasing the verse: ‫“ – רני כנסת ישראל שדומה לאשה עקרה שלא ילדה בנים לגיהנם‬Rejoice,

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137

O community of Israel, who resemble a barren woman, for not having borne children for gehenna.” The ‫ עקרה‬in the verse is the one who ‫“ – לא ילדה‬did not bear children”; however, this term does not denote the absence of all children, but rather the absence of specific children, namely, evil ones. The phrase “not bearing children” should be read “not having borne [children for gehenna].” The ‫ עקרה‬with no evil children should rejoice, since in the end she is destined to have superior children. Note that Beruriah uses the term ‫“ – כנסת ישראל‬Congregation of Israel” – in her reply to the min. It has been suggested that this term was coined as a reaction to Pauline ecclesia, in reference to the entire community as a theological entity.77 Additionally, it is notable that this term often appears in passages that are assumed to have Jewish-Christian tensions in their background.78 To encounter this term in a Talmudic literary creation in which a heated conversation with a heretic takes place, such as Beruriah’s dialogue with the min, is therefore not surprising. While Robert T. Herford did not suggest the Christian background explored in this chapter, he did note that Beruriah seems to react to Christian claims about the exclusion of Jews from heaven and their fate in gehenna: And while it is exceedingly doubtful whether the contents of the Gospel were known to the Rabbis, except very imperfectly through hearing them referred to or quoted by Christians, nevertheless it is not unlikely that Christians should occasionally address Jews in the terms of that terrible denunciation in Matt, xxiii. And in any case Christians could not complain if the terms of the Gospel were cast 77 Samuel Krauss, Synagogale Altertümer (Berlin: B. Harz, 1922), 13–14 (cf. Yitzhak. F Baer, “The Origins of the Organisation of the Jewish Community of the Middle Ages,” Zion 15 (1950), 1–41 (esp. n. 30) [Hebrew]. 78 E.g. Ephraim E. Urbach, “Rabbinic Exegesis and Origenes’ Commentaries on the Song of Songs and Jewish-Christian Polemics,” Tarbiz 30 (1960), 148–170 [Hebrew], claims that the rabbinic exegesis on the Song of Songs reflects Jewish-Christian polemics. More specifically, it reflects a debate with the arguments raised in Origen’s commentaries on this biblical book. The term ‫ כנסת ישראל‬appears very often in the rabbinic corpus. Recently Shaye J. D. Cohen (“Antipodal Texts: B. ‘Eruvin 21b– 22a and Mark 7:1– 23 on the Tradition of the Elders and the Commandment of God,” in Ra’anan S. Boustan, Klaus Herrmann, Reimund Leicht, Annette Yoshiko Reed and Giuseppe Veltri (eds), Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, II (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 965–983, argued that the text in b. ‘Eruvin 21b– 22a reflects a specific Jewish-Christian debate, and here too the term ‫ כנסת ישראל‬appears in this context (see n. 83). Moshe Idel kindly discussed this point with the authors.

138

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity back at them, being as much, or as little, deserved on the one side as on the other. Beruria probably had never seen the passage in Matthew’s Gospel, but she may well have heard language not unlike it from Christians.79

Regardless of Herford’s assessment of Beruriah’s actual historical awareness of New Testament traditions (a premise clearly not shared by this analysis), he correctly points to the use of gehenna as a counterChristian claim. Arguments about the correct religious ticket through the gates of heaven, and on the other hand, the ways to earn entrance to hell, have been prevalent in late antique Jewish-Christian arguments. The text mentioned by Herford, in Matthew 23:13–15, reads: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. While the New Testament passages accuse the Pharisees of sending people to hell, the Talmudic Beruriah, according to most textual witnesses, notes that the fate of the min, like that of the evil children, is gehenna. Interestingly one Geniza Fragment (T-S NS 329.258) and possibly MS Munich80 reads here, ‫“ בן לגהנם כותיכו‬a son for gehenna like you,” in singular, instead of ‫“ בנים לגהנום‬children (pl.) for gehenna.” This version might echo other Talmudic traditions about Jesus, and his eternal punishment in hell, submerged in boiling excrement (b. Giṭṭin 56b–57a):81 :‫ "מאן חשיב בההוא עלמ'?" א'ל‬:‫ א'ל‬.‫אזל אסקיה לישו הנוצרי בנגידא‬ .‫ "טובתם דרוש רעתם לא תדרוש‬:‫ "מהו לאידבוקי בהו?" א'ל‬:‫" א'ל‬.'‫"ישר‬ :‫ "דיני' דההוא גברא במאי?" א'ל‬:‫" א'ל‬.‫כי כל הנוגע בהם כנוגע בבבת עינו‬ ".‫ שכל המלעיג על דברי חכמ' נידון בצואה רותחת‬.‫"בצואה רותחת‬ He [=Onkelos son of Kolonikos] then went and raised by incantations Jesus the Nazarene out of his grave by necromancy. He asked him: “Who is important in that world?” He replied: “Israel.” “What about joining them?” He 79

Herford, Christianity, 239. See comments on the textual variants above. 81 On this story see Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 82– 94. On the parallel to this tradition in b. ‘Eruvin 21b see Cohen, “Antipodal Texts.” 80

139

“Rejoice, O Barren One”: On b. Berakhot 10a

139

replied: “Seek their welfare, seek not their harm. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:12).” He said: “What is your punishment?” He replied: “With boiling excrement,” since a Master has said: “Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling excrement.” Beruriah’s vehement response against the heretic, and her assertion that Israel should rejoice for not having borne children for gehenna, should be read in light of similar assertions being made against Jews, and in light of parallel transition in the Babylonian Talmud about Jesus’ fate in Gehenna. Condemning others to hell is yet again a boundarymaking strategy, shared by New Testament Jesus in Matthew as well as Beruriah and Jesus passages in the Babylonian Talmud. It should be emphasized that this is not a claim for a direct contact between Paul’s tradition and the Talmudic one. Instead, Paul’s words in the Epistle to the Galatians, and its later interpretations, are an example of an allegorical reading of Isaiah 54:1 in late antique Jewish-Christian polemics. One need not imagine a joint ḥavruta session in which the rabbis studied Paul’s epistle and then formulated a polemical response. Such a scenario assumes first-hand knowledge of the actual epistle and its reading in late antiquity, as well as other historical assumptions that one need not, and cannot, make. Rather, this chapter suggests knowledge of a tradition similar to the one that appears in Paul’s epistle, which is interpreted in reference to Jews and Christians. This knowledge is revealed in the creation of literary stories about rabbinic figures such as Beruriah and the min. As in the other Christian traditions discussed in this book, this widely known Pauline interpretive tradition might have reached the author of the Talmudic tradition in oral form or in a paraphrase that did not necessarily derive directly from Paul’s formulation. What this chapter suggests is that the content of a Christian interpretation of Isaiah 54:1 was familiar to the author of this Talmudic passage. This assertion is reinforced by the fact that Paul’s reading of Isaiah 54:1 was so widely known that, from the second century onward, it became the prevailing tradition for other Christian readers of this verse. The reading was well-known to the extent that it is reasonable to assume some familiarity with its circulation, in reference to Jews and Christians, in the circles of the Talmudic author. If this reading is correct, this is yet another example of a late Babylonian literary tradition created as a story about early tannaitic figures and their interactions with minim. Perhaps the choice of the early rabbinic figure is not coincidental: Beruriah is a rare rabbinic

140

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity

female figure depicted in several rabbinic texts as possessing scholarly knowledge and as the wife of second-century tanna R. Meir.82 Not surprisingly, the min story in which she is depicted discusses a verse employing a biblical metaphor involving a woman, barrenness and childbearing. This might explain the choice of Beruriah as the protagonist of this story. She represents the strong learned (and rare!) female character in rabbinic literature. One might even speculate that the later traditions regarding the death of both of Beruriah’s sons in Midrash Mishle (Buber 31), which some scholars attribute to the time close to the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud,83 might have already been in circulation at the time of the composition of the Talmudic tradition in b. Berakhot. This tradition might have contributed to the choice of this particular rabbinic figure to represent a childless mother. Concluding Remarks A summary of the various interpretations of Isaiah 54:1 discussed in this chapter, and their correspondence to the three questions articulated above, is contained in the table. One or Two Entities?

Targum

Joy in the Current Situation, or Process toward the Future?

The Biblical Attribute that Provides the Key for Interpretation?

Two: Joy about the future ‫“ –שוממה‬desolate” Jerusalem and Rome

82 The Beruriah stories have been discussed extensively in scholarly literature. Among many others, see David Goodblatt, “The Beruryah Traditions,” in William S. Green (ed.), Persons and Institutions in Early Rabbinic Judaism (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for Brown University, 1977), 207–229; Daniel Boyarin, “Reading Androcentrism against the Grain: Women, Sex, and Torah-Study,” Poetics Today 12:1 (1991), 29– 53; Tal Ilan, “The Quest for the Historical Beruriah, Rachel, and Imma Shalom,” AJS Review 22:1 (1997), 1– 17; Shana Strauch Schick, “A Re-examination of the Bavli’s Beruriah Narratives in Light of Middle Persian Literature,” Zion 79:3 (2014), 409– 424 [Hebrew]. For the later development of the Beruriah narrative see e.g. Itamar Drori, “The Bruria Incident,” in Yoav Elstein, Avidov Lipsker and Rella Kushelevsky (eds), Entsiḳlopedyah shel ha-sipur ha-Yehudi, III, Sipur ʻoḳev sipur (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2004), 115–153 [Hebrew]. 83 See summary of their views in Strack and Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, 324.

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“Rejoice, O Barren One”: On b. Berakhot 10a

141

Philo 1

One: The Land

Joy in the present, but due to future prospects

‫– שוממה‬ “desolate” and ‫– בעולה‬ “non-virgin”

Philo 2

Two: The soul (in a two-part process)

Joy in the present, but due to future prospects

‫– בעולה‬ “non-virgin”

Paul

Two: The free and enslaved children

Joy about the current situation

‫– בעולה‬ “non-virgin”

2 Clement

Two: The church and another undefined community

From the perspective of the time of the prophecy: joy due to future prospects (the prophecy has already been fulfilled)

‫– עקרה‬ “barren” (who has no children)

PDK

One: Israel

Joy about the current situation

‫“ – שוממה‬desolate”

Beruriah in the Babylonian Talmud

Two: Joy about the The current situation congregation of Israel and the Christians

‫“ – לא ילדה‬did not give birth”

The table provides a fascinating example of an interpretive matrix. Various factors involved in understanding the biblical verses are combined and used in different ways by each text. Regardless of the theological agendas of the authors, all of the texts grapple with similar interpretative and hermeneutical dilemmas, but each source has its own unique way of establishing its interpretive agenda. It is likely that some of these interpretations are based on an awareness of the others, perhaps even responding to one another. Familiarity with this history of interpretation has the potential to

142

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shed light on the content and context of any given interpretation. This chapter focused on the biblical interpretation of Isaiah 54:1 that stands at the heart of a literary passage depicting a polemical debate between a rabbinic figure, Beruriah, and a heretic. Knowing the nonrabbinic material, especially as Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was read, illuminates the nature of this polemic and explains its content. In the final analysis, both Beruriah and the min use the Isaiah verse to argue for the superiority of their religious group. In reading: “For the children of the desolate shall be more/ better than the children of the espoused” the min intends to say: we are better because we are the sons of the spirit and are not bound by the commandments. Beruriah responds: we are better precisely because we do keep the commandments and do not end up in gehenna. The min claims: the woman’s desolation is her virginity, which refers to having children of the spirit, while Beruriah argues: no, the woman’s desolation is her childlessness, which consists of being bereft of children like you. In both readings the desolation is a cause for joy. This example, among the other stories of this genre involving minim in the Babylonian Talmud discussed in this book, contributes to our ability to better understand this literary genre, and might in turn enable a better understanding of the historical circumstances of its formation. The nature of Jewish-Christian interactions in the Persian Empire at the time of the composition of these literary traditions, the rabbis’ acquaintance with Christian interpretive traditions, and their objectives in creating and preserving these traditions in the Talmud, are some of the fascinating questions explored.

143

5 “THE BEST OF THEM IS LIKE A BRIER”: MICAH 7:4 AND THE JEWISH-CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT IN B. ‘ERUVIN 101A

The following story appears in b. ‘Eruvin 101a:1 '‫ דכת' בהו 'טובם כחדק‬4.‫ "חידקא‬:‫ לר' יהושע בר' חנניה‬3‫ ההוא מינא‬2‫אמ' ליה‬ ‫' אלא‬.‫ שפיל לסיפיה דקרא 'וישר ממסוכה‬6.‫ "שטיא‬:‫ אמ' ליה‬5".(‫ד‬,‫)מיכה ז‬ ‫ כך טובים‬9‫ על פירצה שבפרדס‬8‫ הללו מגינין‬7‫מאי 'טובם כחדק?' כשם שחדקין‬ ‫ אומות‬14‫ את‬13‫ שמהדקין‬12".‫ "טובם כחדק‬11.'‫" דב' אח‬.‫ עלינו‬10‫שבנו מגינין‬ ‫ כי קרנך אשים ברזל ופרסותייך‬16‫ שנ' "קומי ודושי בת ציון‬.‫ בגיהנם‬15‫העולם‬ ‫אשים נחשת והדיקות עמים רבים והחרמתי לייי בצעם וחילם לאדון כל‬ (‫יג‬,‫" )מיכה ד‬.‫הארץ‬

1 According to MS Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica ebr., 109, as reproduced in Ma’agarim: The Historical Dictionary Project of the Academy of the Hebrew Language: https://maagarim.hebrew-academy.org.il. MS variants were taken from the Friedberg Project for Talmud Bavli Variants: https://fjms.genizah.org/, and “The Sol and Evelyn Henkind Talmud Text Databank,” Saul Lieberman Institute for Talmudic Research: www.lieberman-institute.com. 2 In MS Vatican there is a deleted ‫ להו‬here. 3 The Vilna edition: ‫צדוקי‬. 4 MS Oxford Opp. Add. fol. 23: ‫הדקאה‬. 5 Instead of: “‫ דכת’ בהו ”טובם כחדק‬.‫“( חידקא‬You are a brier, since it is written of you, ‘The best of them is like a brier’ ”), MS Munich 95 reads: ‫“( מאי דכתי’ טובם כחדק‬Why does it say, ‘The best of them is like a brier’?”). 6 MS Munich 95: ‫ ;שיא‬MS Oxford is missing this word altogether. 7 MS Oxford: ‫ ;שהדקין‬MS Munich: ‫שחדק‬. 8 MS Munich: ‫מגינים‬. 9 This word is missing in the Pesaro, Venice and Vilna printed editions. 10 MS Munich and the printed editions: ‫מגינים‬. 11 MS Oxford: ’‫“( ר’ אמ‬Rabbi said”); Pesaro edition: ’‫דכתיב אח‬. 12 Both words are missing in MS Munich. 13 Per MSS Munich and Vatican and Vilna edition; MS Oxford and Pesaro and Venice editions: ‫שמחדקין‬. 14 This word is missing in MS Munich. 15 The Vilna edition replaces ‫“( אומות העולם‬the nations of the world”) with ‫הרשעים‬ (“the evil ones”). 16 The biblical quotation ends here in MS Munich, while all other variants have a longer quotation.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity A min said to R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah: “You are a brier, since it is written of you, ‘The best of them is like a brier’ ” (Micah 7:4). He said to him: “Fool, look to the end of the verse, where it is written, ‘The most upright [is worse] than a thorn hedge.’ What then was meant by, ‘The best of them is like a brier’? Just as briers protect a gap in a grove, so do the best among us protect us. Another interpretation:17 ‘The best of them is like a brier’ – they crush [from the Hebrew, ‫ ]הדק‬the nations of the world in gehenna. As it is said, ‘Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves brass; and you shall crush many peoples, and you shall dedicate their riches to the Lord and their wealth to the Master of all the earth.’ ” (Micah 4:13)

In this story, a min approaches R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah, a tanna who appears in several Talmudic traditions in conversation with both minim and Roman figures. Famously, in b. Ḥagigah 5b, as R. Joshua is about to die, his fellow sages go so far as to worry, “What will now become of us [i.e. once you are dead], [because] of these heretics?” In the quoted passage, according to most manuscripts, the min calls R. Joshua a brier, citing Micah 7:4, in which the prophet criticizes Israel’s leadership. The word for brier here is ‫חדק‬, a biblical term for a thorny plant used in hedges.18 The Hebrew phrase quoted from Micah is: ‫טובם כחדק‬, which can be translated either as “The good in them is like a brier,”19 or, “The best of them is like a brier.”20 In its biblical context, the sentiment is negative: the best aspect of Israel’s leadership or the best men among those leaders is equated to a kind of a thorn. The verse continues: ‫וישר ממסוכה‬, the meaning of which is not entirely clear, according to the scholarly consensus. It might mean, “[Israel’s] most upright one [acts as] a hedge,”21 or “the most upright is worse than

17 I am not sure who the speaker of this second saying is, and if this a later editorial addition to the story. That will affect the placement of the quotation marks. 18 See Yehuda Feliks, Plant World of the Bible (Ramat Gan: Masadah, 1968), 230 [Hebrew]. 19 E.g. Sifre ha-Miḳra: Commentary by Eliyahu S. Hartom, Umberto Cassuto (ed.) (Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1956–61), X. 20 E.g. Targum Jonathan, s.v. ‫טבא דבהו‬. See also Shmuel Vargon, The Book of Micah: A Study and Commentary (Ramat- Gan: Bar Ilan University, 1994), 205– 206 [Hebrew]. 21 BDB, 692.

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a hedge.”22 In any case, the general sense seems to be that even the good in (or among) Israel is like a thorny obstacle (or worse).23 In the Talmudic story, the heretic directs this biblical insult toward R. Joshua: you are like a brier. In MS Munich the text reads: ‫“( מאי דכתי’ טובם כחדק‬What does scripture mean by ‘the good in them is like a brier’?”). In this variant, the min’s words are not an insult but rather a question. R. Joshua responds by calling the heretic a fool and directing him to read the rest of the verse in order to understand Micah’s meaning. “The best of them is like a brier” should be read in a positive sense: “Just as briers protect a gap in a grove, so do the best among us protect us.” R. Joshua also offers an additional explanation: “ ‘The best of them is like a brier’ – they crush the nations of the world in gehenna.” Notice, that this second reading can be an editorial addition to the now completed story, presented as ‫“ דבר אחר‬another interpretation.” But for my purposes it does not really matter in what name the second saying is presented, but rather that it is brought as a second reaction to the heretic’s question, and is very different from the first. This second reading is based on the similarity between Micah’s ‫חדק‬ and the verb ‫להדק‬, from the root ‫דקק‬, “to crush, pulverize, thresh,” which appears in Micah 4:13.24 There is an obvious wordplay here, based on the common interchange25 between the guttural ‫ ה‬and the pharyngeal ‫ח‬: ‫חדק‬, “brier,” turns into ‫הדק‬, “to crush.” R. Joshua’s first response seems like a reasonable scholastic interpretation, which reads the specific phrase in the context of the verse as a whole. His second reading raises the stakes significantly, introducing gehenna and existential conflict between Jews and Gentiles. Furthermore, by citing a separate verse (Micah 4:13) and drawing on the interchange between ‫ה‬/‫ח‬, this interpretation employs a more complex midrashic technique, which is a step further removed from the plain meaning of the verse. A careful reading of the story, however short and lacking in additional details, shows an added step in R. Joshua’s response. Notice 22 Where the ‫ מ‬is used for a superlative. See Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil Kautzsch and Arthur E. Cowley, Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), 431 (§133e3). 23 See Vargon, Book of Micah, 206, and the reference in nn. 44–45. 24 See BDB, 200, s.v. ‫דקק‬. 25 See Shimon Sharviṭ, “The Gutturals,” in Studies in Mishnaic Hebrew (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2008), 91–112 (Hebrew). I thank Moshe Bar Asher for this reference.

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that when the min says, “You are a brier,” R. Joshua responds, “Look to the end of the verse, where it is written, ‘The most upright [is worse] than a thorn hedge.’ ” Upon closer inspection, R. Joshua’s initial response to the min does not make a great deal of sense. In other Talmudic stories examined in this book that employ the phrase, “Look to the end of the verse,” a contextual reading changes the meaning of the word or phrase that the interlocutor has identified as a challenge to the rabbinic figure. Thus, in b. Ḥullin 87a, the end of Amos 4:13, “The Lord of hosts is His name,” stresses the unity of the process of creation, which the heretic challenges by means of the verse’s opening phrase: “For, lo, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind.” In b. Berakhot 10a, Beruriah explains that the “barren one” in Isaiah 54:1 should rejoice not because she bore no child, as the min challenges, but rather, as the rest of the verse makes clear, because “the children of the desolate shall be more than the children of the espoused.” Unlike these examples, however, reading Micah 7:4 in its full context does not actually change its meaning. Rather than challenging the min’s contention that Israel, or Israel’s leadership, is likened to a brier, R. Joshua’s simply rereads Micah’s negative words, reinterpreting what it means to be called a brier. The words of the second half of the verse do not actually add any new information supporting this interpretation, they are simply a parallel to the first half: “The best” is parallel to “the most upright,” and “brier” is parallel to “a thorn hedge.” Reading the verse in its entirety only serves to stress the basic meaning of the words, while their positive or negative valence is the crux of the argument. In fact, the story could have omitted R. Joshua’s rebuttal (“Fool, look to the end of the verse”) altogether without changing the meaning of his reply. To the min’s insult, “You are a brier,” the rabbi could have simply responded by challenging the implication of this comparison and suggesting that a thorn either defends a gap or implies the crushing of the nations in the next world. Both this logical difficulty presented by R. Joshua’s initial response and the harsh language of his second interpretation suggest that something else may be going on here. As I show elsewhere in this book in the case of other Talmudic min stories which share this structure and the formula, “Fool, look to the end of the verse,” the key to understanding this passage lies in non- rabbinic sources. Here, too, I will offer a reinterpretation of b. ‘Eruvin 101a based on Christian readings of Micah 7:4 and other, related verses that use the same imagery.

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Micah 7:4 In our story, the min challenges R. Joshua with a quote from Micah 7:4. While the quotation matches the masoretic version of this verse, the Septuagint reflects a significantly different underlying text (see table). Micah 7:4 (LXX)

Micah 7:4 (MT)

ὡς σὴς ἐκτρώγων καὶ βαδίζων ἐπὶ ‫טובם כחדק ישר ממסוכה יום מצפיך‬ κανόνος ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σκοπιᾶς. οὐαὶ ‫פקדתך באה עתה תהיה מבוכתם‬ οὐαί, αἱ ἐκδικήσεις σου ἥκασιν, νῦν ἔσονται κλαυθμοὶ αὐτῶν Like a moth larva devouring and The best of them is like a brier; crawling upon a weaver’s rod in the most upright [is worse] than a thorn hedge. The day the day of your keeping watch. God visits you has come; the Woe! Woe! Your punishment day your watchmen sound has come; now shall be their the alarm. Now is the time of lamentations.26 your confusion. Most scholars agree that the Septuagint’s translation of the Twelve Prophets is the work of one translator who worked in the middle of the second century BCE.27 As is evident, the translation of this verse diverges significantly from the (admittedly difficult) Masoretic text, mainly through the addition of the depiction of the moth larva (σής). W. Edward Glenny suggests that the Hebrew ‫ חדק‬was read as the Aramaic ‫חרק‬, meaning “to cut or gnash,”28 which led to the addition of the moth larva as the subject and the verb ἐκτρώγω (“devouring”).29 He also proposes that “the mention of caterpillars, locusts, and locust larvae in Joel 1, which immediately follows this chapter in the LXX, influenced the translator to include the noun σής.”30 Micah in Christian Writings Whatever the origin of the Septuagint’s version of this specific verse, the entire passage from Micah was read by Christian writers of late 26 Trans. follows W. Edward Glenny, Micah: A Commentary, Based on Micah in Codex Vaticanus (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 33. 27 Glenny, Micah, 14 (and references there). 28 See Jastrow, 506, s.v. ‫חרק‬. 29 Glenny, Micah, 191. 30 Glenny, Micah, 191.

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antiquity, such as Cyril of Jerusalem,31 to refer to the downfall of church leadership. Likewise, Origen32 and Ambrose33 read this section of Micah in reference to negative influences on their churches, and Ambrose draws on Micah in a call against the Novatian heretics to “correct our backslidings and amend our faults.”34 It should come as no surprise that Micah 7:4 also figured in Jewish-Christian polemics. Early Christian writers drew on this verse to discuss Israel’s transgressions and punishment by God. Jerome acknowledged the Hebrew version as different from the Septuagint and interpreted Micah’s brier as “the princes” who remain after all the righteous are gone: “whoever is great and, as it were, the most learned in the law; not God’s, but his own.”35 According to Jerome, they call “what is bad, good.” Interestingly, Jerome, like R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah, talks about the brier’s painful qualities, hurting those who come to aid them: […] by holding back he wounds the one approaching it and seizes with hooked tooth. And the one who is found upright is like a thorn from the hedge, that sorrow may be found where aid was counted on. In other words, the two exegetes both see the image of the brier as more than just a lesser, prickly shrub. They read into the verse the qualities the brier represents: it hooks and injures the person attempting to approach it. However, while Jerome reads these qualities as negative – they harm whoever tries to help them due to their misguided nature, the rabbinic text reads it positively – the thorns defend the grove by stopping those who would approach. Since the verse’s original intent is obviously negative, one could easily understand the rabbinic interpretation as a subversive response to a reading like the one found in Jerome, which directs the prophet’s words against Israel. Jerome also addresses the Septuagint version of the verse, which he reads as a “prophetic or apostolic discourse … lamenting humankind in general, which sows the seeds of doctrines in vain.” In this case, Micah’s words are directed at all of humankind, not Israel in particular. 31

Oration II, 58. Homilies on Jeremiah 1, 15.3.2. 33 The Prayer of Job and David, 2.5.18. 34 Selected Works and Letters, 7.52. 35 Jerome, Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets, I, Thomas P. Scheck (ed.) (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; Boston: Credo Reference, 2016), 99–101. 32

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Interestingly, Cyril of Alexandria, who would have known about the Hebrew text from Jerome’s commentary, focuses on the Septuagint version instead, which better served his purposes.36 He draws on this verse to describe the historical fate of biblical Israel, when God will: consume all these good things of theirs like a moth, that is, the things that they probably enjoyed greatly and that were the basis of their deep satisfaction. The fact that they were destined to be struck, wiped out, and banished, as it were, by themselves – that is, perishing with one another – and miserably dismissed from their own homes and cities, he makes clear by saying, “Advancing along a beam on the day of scrutiny I shall do away with their good things.” Here, Cyril presents a contextual reading of the verses in Micah to reach a supersessionist conclusion about the punishment of Israel. Subsequently, he goes even further, reading the passage from Micah not only in reference to Israel’s downfall, but applying it as a cautionary tale for his own community. As Hauna Ondrey has recently written, for Cyril, “[t]he lived history of Israel, to which the prophetic texts bear witness, provides the Christian reader examples and anti-examples of how to please God and avoid displeasing God.”37 Cyril begins his analysis by saying that these biblical events should be read typologically in reference to his own time and his own community, “so that we should ever avoid being caught up in similar sins and continue to enjoy good fortune by keeping the God of all as a benevolent and loving protector.” But, he then goes on to reference his opponents, as well: “those who distort what is right and undermine the faith of simple people.” Thus, Cyril reads the Septuagint’s version of Micah 7:4 historically as a description of God’s vengeance on, and desertion of, biblical Israel, and also as a contemporary reference to the punishment to be expected for those opposing correct Christian doctrine. 36 See the comment in Hill, Cyril of Alexandria, 260, n. 7. Theodore of Mopsuestia similarly ignores the Hebrew here, though it was certainly available to him. 37 Hauna T. Ondrey, The Minor Prophets as Christian Scripture in the Commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria (Oxford: OUP, 2018), 203. See also p. 204: “Cyril draws moral lessons from the texts of the Minor Prophets … having drawn this lesson, Cyril then applies it directly to his Christian audience. Such direct application is enabled by his presuming a consistent foundation between the two Testaments regarding the nature of sin, repentance, and virtue and God’s response to each. Cyril finds moral lessons afforded chiefly by anti-example: ‘The crimes of others will therefore be of benefit to us, and we shall become better from sins committed by others if we avoid theirs.’ ”

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The fourth-century Christian writer Theodore of Mopsuestia reads Micah 7:4 in a similarly supersessionist manner: For this I shall completely reduce you [Israel] to a state of need, like a moth, by means of the enemy doing away with all that is of value to you: just as a moth on a wooden rod making its way along eats and wastes it all by gradual destruction, so shall I gradually destroy all your good things More broadly, in Theodore’s reading of Micah, he affirms that the destruction of the Second Temple is God’s punishment of Israel for their resistance to Christ.38 Both Cyril and Theodore use the Minor Prophets and specifically these verses in Micah to assert the rejection of Israel and the superiority of the church.39 In what follows, I will survey the moth imagery associated with this verse in Christian writings. This will serve as background for my claim that since the moth metaphor is used to encourage Christians to accumulate deeds so that will be safe from moths in the world to come, R. Joshua’s answer is a fitting polemical response. Moth in Early Christian Writings The motif of destruction caused by the moth, as found in the Septuagint version of the verse, is also widely known in Hellenistic literature. So, for example, the Greek poet Pindar writes: “Gold is the child of Zeus: neither moth nor rust can consume it.”40 The general image of moths as a symbol of decay, particularly moral degradation, is known from early Christian authors. The Shepherd of Hermas uses moth- eaten willow branches as part of a parable to describe “apostates and traitors to the church.”41 And the book of James describes men of riches, whose “corruption has fallen on your riches; all the fine clothes are left moth- eaten.”42 Ephrem uses the metaphor of the devouring moth to talk about the damage that logical disputation might inflict upon the mystery of faith.43 More importantly, the image of the moth larva devouring cloth as a symbol of utter destruction of one’s enemies is known from other biblical verses, for example, Isaiah 50:9: 38

See his commentary on Micah 4:7. See Ondrey, Minor Prophets, 198. 40 Pindar, Fgm. 209 [OxfT=222 Sch./ M.], BDAG σής; and see there for other references. 41 Shepherd of Hermas 8.6, Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Press, 2008), 609. 42 Jas 5:2. 43 The Pearl, Hymn 7. 39

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.‫ עש יאכלם‬,‫הן כלם כבגד יבלו‬ They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. Or Isaiah 51:8: -‫ ומגדפתם אל‬,‫ תיראו חרפת אנוש‬-‫ אל‬.‫ עם תורתי בלבם‬,‫שמעו אלי ידעי צדק‬ ‫ וישועתי‬,‫ וצדקתי לעולם תהיה‬.‫ וכצמר יאכלם סס‬,‫ כי כבגד יאכלם עש‬.‫תחתו‬ .‫לדור דורים‬ Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations. In these biblical examples, the moth is specifically used as a symbol for the destruction brought on one’s enemies. The devouring moth also appears in two prominent New Testament passages, which deal, not with the destruction of enemies, but rather with the possible destruction of treasures collected by humans. The first instance is Matthew 6:19–21:44 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust ruin [them] and where thieves break in and steal [them]. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust ruin [them] and where thieves neither break in nor steal [them]. For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also. In Matthew, the reader is called upon to store only heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones, which can be destroyed by moths or stolen by thieves. Similar to the moth eating symbol of destruction, thieves are also presented, naturally, in ancient sources to break through walls in order to steal things hidden in various places.45 This passage follows immediately after Matthew’s rejection of excessive public displays of asceticism (6:16–18), and materialism is underscored as a major concern.46 As Hans Dieter Betz notes, these verses 44

Trans. according to Betz, The Sermon on the Mount, 428. See references in BDAG for διορύσσω. 46 But see François Bovon on Luke here: “Luke does not set up a communist program, however.” François Bovon, Luke 2: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 9:51– 19:27, trans. Donald S. Deer (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013), 222. 45

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are carefully structured: “Verses 19–20 form an antithetical isocolon (parallel lines) in symmetrical juxtaposition,” and verse 21 is “a sententia, stated as an isocolon (parallel lines) using antapodosis (parallel in comparisons) and the form ‘where … there.’”47 The criticism of material wealth was not, of course, a new concept in antiquity, and ancient writers, from the pre- Socratics, Socrates and Plato through contemporary writers such as Psalms of Solomon and Philo, stressed that true wealth did not depend upon material possessions.48 A comparison of Matthew 6:19–21 to the parallel passage in Luke 12:32–34 reveals an added theological element in Luke’s version: Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In Luke, not only are earthly treasures not to be stored, but they are to be given away to the poor. This differs from the Matthean passage, which focuses on the importance of storing heavenly treasures, rather than on the proper use of earthly ones.49 Another difference is the sequence of thieves and moths, as well as the singular “treasure” in Luke compared to the plural “treasures” in Matthew. Scholars debate the exact relationship between the two versions and their relationship to the Q tradition.50 Some scholars have pointed out that Matthew differs from Luke (and other passage in Mark) in his apparent suggestion that one can enjoy the fruits of the heavenly treasures only after the return of the Son of Man and the “settling of accounts,” while passages in the other writers state that one can benefit from heavenly treasures during this life.51 In a tradition related to both of these New Testament texts (and their possible Q origin), Gospel of Thomas 76 states: Jesus said, “The kingdom of the father is like a merchant who had a consignment of merchandise and who discovered

47

Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 428. See discussion and references in Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 429–431. 49 Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 431–432, assumes that this unstated theological precept, though not spelled out in Matthew, is nonetheless implied. 50 Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 432–433. Cf. Bovon, Luke 2, 210–212. 51 Nathan Eubank, “Storing Up Treasure with God in the Heavens: Celestial Investments in Matthew 6:1–21,” CBQ 76 (2014), 77–92 (87–88). 48

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a pearl. That merchant was shrewd. He sold the merchandise and bought the pearl alone for himself. You too, seek his unfailing and enduring treasure where no moth comes near to devour and no worm destroys.”52 Here too the heavenly treasure is protected specifically from moth and worm. Moths and Thieves Interestingly, the two elements singled out as causes for the destruction of earthly treasures, moths and thieves, are closely related in rabbinic literature as well.53 In b. Berakhot 18b, we find a story of Samuel looking for money that his father had hidden before he died, which was meant to be given to orphans: ‫ כי נח נפשיה לא הוו‬.‫ דאבוה דשמואל הוו מפקידי גביה זוזי דיתמי‬.‫תא שמע‬ …‫" אזל אבתריה לחצר מות‬.‫ "בר אכיל זוזי דיתמי‬.‫ הוו קרו ליה‬.‫גבי שמואל‬ ‫" "באמת דהיא עילאי דידן ותחתאי דידן‬.‫ "זוזא דיתמי היכא יתבי‬:‫אמ' ליה‬ 54 ".‫ ואי אכלה ארעא תיכול מדידן‬.‫ אי גנבי גנבי ליגנבו מדידן‬.‫ואמצעי דיתמי‬ Come and hear: The father of Samuel had some money belonging to orphans deposited with him. When he died, Samuel was not with him, and they called him “the son who consumes the money of orphans.” So he went after his father to the cemetery … He then said to him: “Where is the money of the orphans?” [He replied]: “In the case of the millstones. The money at the top and bottom is mine; that in the middle belongs to the orphans. [I arranged it this way] so that if thieves came, they would take mine, and if the earth destroyed any, it would destroy mine.”55 By placing the orphans’ money between his own, Samuel’s father was protecting it from thieves and from the perils of the earth (rust and moths). These New Testament and rabbinic passages testify to common fears in late antiquity about the factors responsible for the destruction of property. Rather than fire or water damage, the 52 Translation taken from Thomas O. Lambdin’s on the Nag Hammadi Library website. On this passage see Bovon, Luke 2, 214. 53 Bovon, Luke 2, 223, suggests that the thieves in Luke and Matthew stand for “harmful animals.” 54 MS Oxford 366. 55 On this story and an interesting parallel (talking to the dead to discover hidden deposits, in order to help orphans) in the Apophthegmata Patrum, Macarius the Great

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two that are singled out are earth related (such as moth and rust) and thieves, most likely since the images of decay and criminality feel more symbolically appropriate in the context of a discussion of moral degradation. “Heavenly Treasures” in Second Temple Literature While the concept of storing earthly gains in heaven, such as in Matthew and Luke, might seem odd to modern readers, it did not to late antique Christians and Jews. As Peter Brown remarks: To join the language of one sphere – that of commerce and treasure – with the sphere of religion now strikes us as a joining of incompatibles so inappropriate as to seem almost an off-color joke. Plainly Roman Christians did not share this modern inhibition. They did not consider themselves to be dealing with two distinct spheres – commerce and religion – in which the ethos of one sphere was considered deeply inappropriate to that of the other. Rather, they thought in terms of two different orbits of exchange … Earth and heaven were brought together by the Christian gift. And this was done through the daring extension of the earthly language of exchange, commerce, and treasure … to the unimaginable world of heaven. It has been correctly remarked that seldom in any literature have money and images borrowed from commerce bulked so large as in the literature of late Roman Christianity.56 If we turn back to the New Testament, the theological notion of “treasures stored in heaven” seems to be drawing from a known concept in contemporary Jewish wisdom literature.57 In fact, the idea

7 (PG 65:265), see Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, Early Christian Monastic Literature and the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge: CUP, 2013), 110–112. 56 Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350– 550 AD (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), 84–85. I thank Gary Anderson for this reference. 57 See the many references in Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 433– 434, n. 87; Arthur Marmorstein, “The Treasures in Heaven and upon Earth,” London Quarterly Review 132 (1919), 216–228; Marmorstein, The Doctrine of Merits in Old Rabbinic Literature (London: Jew’s College, 1920), 20–24; Ephraim E. Urbach, “Treasure Above,” in Gerard Nahon and Charles Touati (eds), Hommage à Georges Vajda: études d’histoire et de pensée juives (Leuven: Peeters, 1980), 117–124; Bradley C. Gregory, Like an Everlasting Signet Ring: Generosity in the Book of Sirach (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010), 204–213; and Eubank, “Storing Up Treasure with God.”

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of heavenly treasures is a logical conclusion for those seeking ethical distribution of punishment and rewards for deeds committed on earth. As Betz puts it, “perishability” of good and bad deeds is not ethical: “Without this assumption [=of a storage in the next world], no accountability or responsibility would exist.”58 So we find, for example, the following sentiment in Tobit 4:8–9: If you have many possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have. So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity. Similarly, Philo states: For those who possess stored up in Heaven the true wealth whose adornment is wisdom and godliness have also wealth of earthly riches in abundance. For under the providence and good care of God their storehouses are ever filled.59 Like Matthew 6, these Second Temple passages all reference the concept of a future heavenly treasure that will repay earthly good deeds, and like Luke 12, they often specify almsgiving. Gary Anderson has suggested that the development of this concept occurred in stages, beginning as a financial image of storing charitable deeds as opposed to earthly goods, and then evolving into the image of a bank used to service all virtuous deeds.60 These concepts were developed in later Christian sources, so that, as Brown puts it: “Heaven was not only a place of great treasure houses, it included prime real estate in a state of continuous construction due to the good deeds performed on earth by means of common, coarse money.”61 We also find the notion of “heavenly treasures” in later, rabbinic sources. For example, in t. Pe’ah 4:18, King Monbaz is accused by his sons of squandering his treasures by giving them to those suffering from famine. He replies: ‫ שנ' 'אמת מארץ‬.‫ "אבותי גנזו אוצרו' למטה ואני גנזתי למעלה‬.‫אמ' להם‬ ‫ ואני גנזתי מקום שאין‬.‫' אבותי גנזו אוצרות מקום שהיד שולטת בו‬.‫תצמח‬ ‫ אבותי גנזו אוצרות שאין‬.'‫ 'צדק ומשפט מכון כסאך' וגו‬.'‫ שנ‬.‫היד שולטת בו‬ 58

Betz, Sermon on the Mount, 434. Rewards, 104. See Gregory, Like an Everlasting Signet Ring, 205. 60 Gary A. Anderson, Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), 123–135 (see specifically p. 133). 61 Peter Brown, Ransom of The Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 27. 59

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity .'‫עושין פירות ואני גנזתי אוצרות שעושין פירות שנ' 'אמרו צדיק כי טוב' וגו‬ ‫אבותי גנזו אוצרות ממון ואני גנזתי אוצרות של נפשות שנ' 'פרי צדיק עץ‬ ‫ שנ' 'ולך‬.‫ אבותי גנזו אוצרות לאחרים ואני גנזתי לעצמי‬.'‫חיים ולוקח נפש' וגו‬ ‫ אבותי גנזו אוצרות בעולם הזה ואני גנזתי לעצמי לעולם‬.'‫תהיה צדקה' וגו‬ 62 "'.‫ שנ' 'והלך לפניך צדקיך‬.‫הבא‬ He replied: “My fathers laid up treasures for below, but I have laid up treasures for above … They laid up treasures in a place over which the hand [of a man] may prevail; I in a place over which no hand can prevail. My fathers laid up treasures which bear no fruit; I have laid up treasures that bear fruit … My fathers laid up the treasures of money; I have laid up treasures of souls … My fathers laid up treasures for others; I for myself. My fathers laid up treasures useful in this world; I for the world to come.”63

Monbaz talks about accumulating treasures in heaven: there are treasures that will bear fruit and are saved from the hand of humans. In conclusion, in what is found in the New Testament passages, as Nathan Eubank summarizes, “there is little here that would have been surprising to anyone in the milieus of Tobit, Sirach, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and the Deutero- Pauline epistles, not to mention the later rabbis.”64 Ephraim E. Urbach also notes examples of the notion of storing treasures of good deeds in heaven in Persian Pahlavi literature. For example: “Be thou diligent in making a store of good works, in order that it may come to thy succor in the spiritual world.”65 However, Urbach also suggests that in rabbinic literature we can find an antithetical approach to the one promoting a heavenly treasure as reward for earthly good deeds.66 He cites the following passage in b. Berakhot 33b: ‫ "אין לו להק'ב'ה' בבית גנזיו אלא יראת שמים שנ' 'יראת יי היא‬:‫והא"ר יוחנן‬ 67 "'.‫אוצרו‬

62

MS Wien 46. Trans. according to Urbach, “Treasure Above,” 117. 64 Eubank, “Storing Up Treasure with God,” 92. 65 Datustan e. Xrat (2.96– 97). See Urbach, “Treasures Above,” 120, quoting Jal Dastur Cursetji Pavry, The Zoroastrian Doctrine of a Future Life: From Death to the Individual Judgment (New York: AMS, 1929), 72–77. 66 Urbach, “Treasure Above,” 122–125. 67 According to MS Munich. MS Paris (used by Ma’agarim here) does not have this sentence. 63

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R. Yoḥanan said: “The Holy One, blessed be He, has in His treasury nought except a store of the fear of heaven, as it says, ‘The fear of the Lord is His treasure.’” According to Urbach, this passage stresses that “the only reward for good deeds are the good deeds themselves. The ‘Treasure above’ does not contain any other good than that of the fear of the Lord, which is completely dependent upon man and his conduct.” Indeed, the reference to God’s treasury and the stress on the negative phrasing of having “nought but a store of the fear of heaven” seem to suggest a polemical stand against the other, more prevalent view of heavenly treasury. Urbach goes even further, arguing that the Matthean saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” is directly challenged in this rabbinic saying. It is, claims Urbach, “quasi-changed into ‘For where your heart is, there will thy treasure be.’ ” In other words, Urbach identifies in rabbinic writings a polemical stand against the belief in accumulating heavenly treasures through earthly good deeds. The Image of the Moth in Matthew 6 and Luke 12 What distinguishes the New Testament passages cited above, Matthew 6 and Luke 12, from the other texts we have explored, is the belief that heavenly treasure is stored more reliably than earthly treasure. Specifically, both passages claim that heavenly treasure is safe from moth and thieves. In other words, Matthew and Luke combine the well-known motif of heavenly treasure with the fear of these two wellknown, earthly agents of destruction. These sources now suggest that good deeds, whether in general (Matthew) or almsgiving in particular (Luke), will secure treasures in heaven, which are not only better but are also safe from the earthly dangers of moths and thieves.68 The closest parallel to the combination of these elements – fear of the destruction of earthly treasures and the greater security of heavenly treasures – is found in the Tosefta passage cited above, where the “hand of a man” presumably refers to thieves. In addition, there is an illuminating passage in Sirach 29:8–13: However, with the poor person be patient and do not keep him waiting for alms. For the sake of the commandment help the poor and according to his need do not turn him 68 It seems that there is a tendency in later sources to focus on good deeds, rather than only almsgiving, as the main source for heavenly treasures. See Eubank, “Storing Up Treasure with God,” 82.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity away empty- handed. Lose (your) money for a kinsman or a friend and do not place it under a stone to go to ruin. Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High and it will profit you more than gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury and it will deliver you from every calamity. More than a strong shield and a robust spear it will fight for you against an enemy.69

Here, Ben Sira discusses the potential for earthly treasure, placed under a stone, to be destroyed and instead holds up charity, which will provide heavenly treasure, as a superior and more profitable use for a person’s wealth. All of these texts, particularly Ben Sira, demonstrate that the passages from Matthew and Luke are rooted in earlier and contemporary traditions. Ben Sira is closest since it too combines the fear of destruction of the earthly treasure with the benefits of the heavenly one.70 However, and this is important for my point, none of these other traditions, including Ben Sira and the Tosefta, mentions the moth as the destroyer of earthly treasure. Only Matthew and Luke (and Thomas) specifically note that heavenly treasure is safe from both thieves and moth. I think that the image of moth is key to understanding the Talmudic passage in b. ‘Eruvin. The Moth and b. ‘Eruvin It is my argument that this brief, enigmatic passage in b. ‘Eruvin should be read in light of the Septuagint’s version of Micah 7:4 and the moth imagery in the famous passages from Matthew and Luke, discussed above. In line with what I have argued earlier in this book in Chapters 1 and 3, I would suggest that the rabbinic tradition is aware of the Greek version of Micah 7:4 and presents a fictional scenario featuring an imagined conversation about this verse. This is not a discussion about textual variants per se; the rabbis acknowledge the masoretic tradition as the only “true” biblical text. Rather, assuming that the rabbis knew of the different traditions of Micah 7:4 in the Septuagint and Masora, and, more importantly, the wellknown image of the moth in the Christian tradition, I read the rabbinic story as a depiction of this knowledge as a conflict between 69

Trans. according to Gregory, Like an Everlasting Signet Ring, 181. Ben Sira also seems to suggest that the giver of alms will be repaid more than the value of their charity, as opposed to passages such as the Testimony of Zerubbabel 6.4–7, where the future payment corresponds to the almsgiving. See Gregory, Like an Everlasting Signet Ring, 205. 70

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rabbi and a heretic over the interpretation of this verse for a very specific reason. In my reading, the rabbinic tradition is saying: we know that this verse was used to criticize Israel, both biblical and contemporary, and to claim Christian supersessionism. We also know that there are different versions of Micah 7:4; that the alternate, non- rabbinic imagery (the moth) has a well-known meaning in late antiquity and specifically in Christianity (as a destructive element); and that this imagery has been used to promote certain attitudes and actions (storing heavenly treasures via good works, where these will be saved from moth, rather than accumulating earthly wealth). So, let us imagine what would happen if a representative of such a tradition were to walk into our study house to discuss this verse with us, but using the masoretic version. I will mention only briefly that other parallel min stories discussed in this book display similar connections to alternate Septuagint versions of biblical verses and their relationship to the original Hebrew text. In b. Ḥullin 87a, discussed in Chapter 3, the Septuagint version of Amos 4:13 is vastly different from the Masoretic text (substituting the hapax legomenon ‫מה שחו‬, “his thoughts,” with the Greek equivalent of ‫משיחו‬, “his anointed”). As I demonstrate, this verse stood at the center of Christian debates, a fact that sheds light on the local Talmudic dialogue between the min and R. Judah the Prince. In b. Berakhot 10a, the verse at the center of the debate between the min and Beruriah is Isaiah 54:1, where the Hebrew word ‫ בעולה‬carries a dual meaning: both “one who has a husband” and “one who is not a virgin.” On this basis, the verse becomes the focus of late antique interpretations, most famously in Galatians 4 and Paul’s discussion of Hagar and Sarah. An awareness of this non-rabbinic background sheds light on the Talmudic passage and informs our understanding of the conflict between Beruriah and the min. Returning to our short dialogue in b. ‘Eruvin, I believe that here, too, the Septuagint’s version of the biblical text and the well-known use of the moth metaphor in the New Testament stand in the background of the creation of the Talmudic passage. To be more specific, I think that the Talmudic dialogue should be read as follows. A heretic asks: you are a brier! Even according to your text, does God not accuse you of being a brier? Or in the clearer version of MS Munich: what does it mean to be called a brier? How does this imagery work for Micah? This heretic’s question thus implies a questioning of the rabbinic version of the text. R. Joshua retorts: “Fool, read on to the end of

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the verse!” If you read the next few words you will see that “brier” is certainly the correct reading. The parallelism makes this absolutely clear. For R. Joshua, reading to the end of the verse is not about establishing the correct meaning of the image (is a brier a good thing or not?), but rather affirming the words themselves (“brier” and not “moth” is the proper version of the text). R. Joshua then makes a secondary argument: not only is our reading of the verse correct, it is not even an insult; briers help protect gaps in hedges. In other words, the context does not actually provide a basic understanding of the words themselves. As a result, R. Joshua’s insistence that the min read the verse in its full context is needed only to emphasize that “brier,” not “moth,” is the better reading here. His primary response makes clear that the verse used by Christian writers to criticize Israel and claim Christian superiority is based on an erroneous textual tradition; furthermore, R. Joshua argues, the correct version, the brier one, should actually be read as a positive statement about Israel. R. Joshua then offers a second interpretation of the verse. This feature appears in the other minim dialogues discussed in this book, as well (except for the longer story in b. Ḥullin). These additional explanations are generally more hostile, and they always represent a more “advanced” reading than the initial, simpler reading of the verse. Gehenna also appears in a number of these second interpretations. For example, Beruriah says to the min in b. Berakhot, paraphrasing Isaiah, “But rejoice, O community of Israel, who resemble a barren woman, that you have not borne children for gehenna.” It is worth noting that Jesus is one of the most famous figures reported to dwell in gehenna, according to b. Giṭṭin 57a. In this case, the second answer rereads ḥedek, “thorn,” as deriving from the root hedek, “to crush or eliminate.” This latter root appears just a few chapters earlier, in Micah 4:13: ‫קומי ודושי בת ציון כי קרנך אשים ברזל ופרסתיך אשים נחושה והדקות עמים‬ .‫רבים והחרמתי ליהוה בצעם וחילם לאדון כל הארץ‬ Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves brass; and you shall crush many peoples, and you shall dedicate their riches to the Lord and their wealth to the Master of all the earth. There, Jerusalem is promised total salvation from its enemies, who will be utterly destroyed at her hands. R. Joshua says: what does hedek signify? That Israel will crush the nations of the world in gehenna. In the printed version of the Talmud, R. Joshua’s phrase is,

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“They crush the nations of the world to gehenna,” probably meaning that Israel will vanquish its enemies in this world and send them to gehenna. However, the manuscripts’ version of this story situates the crushing in gehenna itself. If this is indeed a straightforward biblical debate between the heretic and R. Joshua over the meaning of Micah 7:4 – whether Israel is likened to a brier and what that image means – it is hard to understand the harsh, polemical turn of R. Joshua’s second response. Here, he pointedly moves away from a simple reading of the verse and pivots toward strong “us- versus- them” language. The polemic against the heretic situates the Talmudic passage within the boundary- making discourse of this mini-corpus of minim stories. Moreover, if we have in mind the Septuagint version and the moth imagery associated with this verse in Christian writings, then R. Joshua’s second answer can be read in a new light. According to the manuscript version, R. Joshua is telling the heretic that Israel will crush the nations in the world to come, that is, in gehenna. Given that the moth metaphor is used in the New Testament precisely to encourage Christians to accumulate deeds that will be safe from moths in the world to come, R. Joshua’s answer is a fitting polemical response. In fact, he says to the min, Israel will act as Micah’s moth and will be responsible for your destruction in the world to come. It will do so despite your accumulation of the types of Christian deeds that you thought would be safe from the moth. Destruction will indeed take place; not the moth’s destruction of earthly possessions, but Israel’s vanquishing of the Gentiles themselves in the next world, where they thought themselves to be safe thanks to their good works. A verse that was used by Christian writers in their own boundary- making discourse, to claim Christian superiority, is now turned on its head by R. Joshua as a source for the future superiority of Israel. To summarize R. Joshua’s response to the min. First of all, he says, the verse talks about a brier, not a moth. This is clear both from a contextual reading of the end of the verse and from the intended meaning of the brier image (that the best in Israel is a source of protection). However, even if you do not accept this reading, let me suggest yet a third interpretation, which turns your moth image on its head. The verse compares Israel’s leaders to those who crush and destroy. R. Joshua draws on another verse from Micah for the wordplay and situates the destruction of the nations in gehenna. This further subverts the Christian reading of the verse, which assures believers that their deeds will secure them a treasure in the next world that will be safe from the moth.

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I want to stress that the image of moth itself is mentioned neither in the Talmudic passage nor in the version of the verse which the passage cites. There is an unstated gap between the Talmudic text and the Septuagint version and New Testament traditions’ use of the moth metaphor. This gap needs to be bridged in order to understand the short Talmudic passage. In support of this assertion I have, first, demonstrated the Christian polemical use of Micah 7:4 against Israel. Second, I noted the rabbinic polemical use of Micah 4:13, which specifically talks about the killing of the nations of the world, and the rabbis’ transfer of this earthly destruction to the heavenly realm. Third, I have stressed R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah’s apparently superfluous exhortation to the min to read the verse in its context. This sentence is only necessary when understood as part of a discussion about the correct way to read this verse, in light of alternative readings or versions. R. Joshua is emphasizing here that the end of the verse makes clear that it is talking about a brier and not a moth. Fourth, my reading in this case is strengthened by the other minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud discussed in this book, where the Septuagint’s different version or understanding of the verse in question stands in the background of the Talmudic passage. Fifth, the use of the double insult: “min” and “fool,” as demonstrated in this book, is a clear indication of a Jewish- Christian polemic over the correct understanding of scripture. As stated in Chapter 2, given the relatively rare occurrence of the “fool” insult in the general rabbinic corpus, and its uses in other late antique texts, the Talmudic use of the term should be understood together with the accusation of heresy intended by the term “min.” The correct interpretation of scripture is depicted as being at the core of key arguments between different groups in late antiquity, and the “fool” insult relates directly to the line- drawing discourse on these topics. The story, thus, not only labels the rabbinic opponent as a heretic, but also dubs him “a fool” who misunderstand scripture. Finally, the passages from Matthew and Luke provide crucial background, as they explicitly stress the fear that moths might damage earthly treasures. The unique combination of keeping treasures safe in heaven from destruction caused by moths provides a background for understanding the harsh polemical tone surrounding the verses from Micah in the Talmud’s brief tale. If this reading is correct, we can also understand the Babylonian Talmudic creators’ use of the early tannaitic character R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah in this context. Like the other protagonists in the stories I examine in this book (such as Rabbi and Beruriah), he is a

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central rabbinic figure, not an obscure one. Moreover, he is consistently presented as a “man of the world.” As mentioned above, he appears in several traditions in conversation with Roman figures and minim, and his imminent death is depicted as a potential crisis for the rabbis, who lament: “What will now become of us, [because] of these heretics?” R. Joshua is depicted in multiple rabbinic sources visiting Rome (m. ‘Eruvin 4:1; t. Horayot 2:5; Sifre, ‘Ekev 43; Genesis Rabbah 13; y. Sanhedrin 7:11 (25d); b. Giṭṭin 58a). He is often depicted as arguing with the emperor Hadrian (Genesis Rabbah 13, 28, 78; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 2:8; Ruth Rabbah 3:2). In the Babylonian Talmud he is presented in multiple stories in the presence of “Caesar” (b. Berakhot 56a; b. Shabbat 119a; b. Ḥullin 59b– 60a). He is presented as being able to easily win arguments (b. Sanhedrin 90b; b. Berakhot 8b), even with “the daughter of Caesar” (b. Ta‘anit 7a; b. Ḥullin 60a), and frequently argues with minim (b. Ḥagigah 5b; b. Shabbat 152b, where he is scolded by Hadrian for not showing up for bei avidan, possibly meant to be a place of inter-religious disputation).71 Some scholars have attempted to use these sources to reconstruct a historical account of R. Joshua’s travels. For example, Zacharias Frankel connected a tradition found in m. Nega‘im 14:13 and b. Niddah 69b about R. Joshua being asked questions by the people of Alexandria with testimony found in Roman writings about Hadrian discussing a visit by a Jewish leader in Alexandria.72 I agree with the assessment of Stuart S. Miller that these should not be viewed as strictly “historical” traditions.73 However, they do present a general picture of a rabbinic character who appears in a broad range of rabbinic sources – from early, tannaitic texts to later, amoraic and post- amoraic works – as well- traveled and in contact with Roman figures. He is even presented as holding a lenient view in the argument about the entrance of righteous Gentiles to the world to come (t. Sanhedrin 13:2). The general depiction that emerges from these sources might serve as the background for the literary choice of 71 On bei avidan, see Shai Secunda, The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian Context (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 51– 63. On R. Joshua, see Joshua Podro, The Last Pharisee: The Life and Times of R. Joshua ben Hananiah (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1959); William S. Green, The Traditions of Joshua ben Hananiah (Leiden: Brill, 1980). 72 Zacharias Frankel, The Ways of the Mishnah: And the Ways of its Accompanying Books, the Tosefta, Mekhilta, Sifra and Sifre (Lipsia; Hungary, 1859), 84 [Hebrew]. 73 Stuart S. Miller, Sages and Commoners in Late Antique ʼEreẓ Israel: A Philological Inquiry into Local Traditions in Talmud Yerushalmi (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006), 174–175.

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R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah, here, as well, especially in a case dealing with the Septuagint’s variant reading of a biblical verse.74 Conclusion To conclude: I argue in this chapter that the Septuagint’s version of Micah 7:4 and the polemical uses of this verse in Christian literature, read in combination with the New Testament passages that employ the image of a moth destroying earthly treasures, illuminate the brief interaction between R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah and the min in b. ‘Eruvin 101a. This text is part of a boundary- making genre of polemical argumentation, and these readings shed light on possible Christian references in these passages and highlight elements of irony and satire that would otherwise go unnoticed. In the corpus of minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud, we can find a wealth of new and exciting information that helps us better understand both rabbinic and Christian literature from a different perspective. Reading these texts in this way alerts us to possible historical connections between the two religious communities in the Persian Empire. Through this analysis, we add one more piece to the important historical puzzle: how much Christianity is there in the Talmud? What can we learn about the rabbinic composers of these traditions and their knowledge of, and familiarity with, the Christian world around them? The Talmudic narrative in b. ‘Eruvin does not make our lives easy. As is the case here, the minim stories in the Talmud are almost always very short. While this chapter focused on one brief passage, I propose to strengthen it by situating it within this book’s broader analysis of the corpus of minim stories that share a parallel literary structure. At the heart of these texts lie biblical verses whose interpretation within and outside of the rabbinic milieu carries the key to understanding the dialogues themselves. When read together, all of these narratives affirm the need to draw on non-rabbinic biblical interpretation as a background for understanding rabbinic stories.

74

I am thankful to Isaiah Gafni for this suggestion.

165

6 “HE HA S DRAWN OFF FROM THEM”: HOSEA 5:6 AND THE JEWISH-CHRISTIAN ARGUMENT IN B. YEVAMOT 102B

B. Yevamot 102b The following story is found in b. Yevamot 102b1: ‫ דכתב 'כצאנם‬3.‫ "עמא דחלץ ליה מאריה‬:‫ לרבן גמליאל‬2‫אמ' ליה ההוא מינא‬ :‫ אמ' ליה‬.(‫ו‬,‫ )הושע ה‬6"'‫ ולא ימצאו חלץ מהם‬5‫ובבקרם ילכו לבקש את ייי‬ ‫ דאילו יבמה דחלצו לה אחין‬7.‫ מי כתיב 'חלץ להם'? 'חלץ מהם' כתיב‬.‫"שוטה‬ ".‫מדי מששא אית ביה‬

4

A certain min said to R. Gamliel: “You are a people for whom its Master has performed Ḥaliṣah, for it is said, ‘With their flocks and with their herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they shall not find him; He has drawn off (halaṣ) from them’” (Hosea 5:6). He said: “Fool, is it written, ‘He has drawn off for them?’ It is written, ‘He has drawn off from them.’ Now in the case of a sister- in- law [lit., the yevama] for whom the brothers drew off, could there be any validity in the act?” In line with the other minim stories discussed in this book, a min approaches a rabbinical figure, Rabban Gamliel, and makes a 1

Text according to Munich 141, with changes. The word is missing in MS Vatican and is added in the margin. According to MS Munich 141. Slightly different are the printed versions: “its master from them” (‫ מריה מיניה‬mareh minneh), and MS Oxford 248: “his master [from] his face” (‫ מריה אפיה‬mareh appeh). 4 http:// maagarim.hebrew- academy.org.il has “as their flocks” (‫ כצאנם‬ke- ṣonam), while the manuscript scan as seen in the National Library of Israel catalogue shows “with their flocks” (‫ בצאנם‬be- ṣonam), as read also by Friedberg project for Talmud Variants website. 5 In the Venice print: ‫דבר יי‬ 6 MS Moscow-Guenzburg 594 only quotes the last words of the verse: ‫חלץ מהם‬ 7 This version appears in the printed versions, as well as Moscow-Guenzburg 1017 and 594, Munich 95 and Vatican 111. MS Munich 141, Oxford 248 and Geniza fragment Cambridge-T-S F2 (1) 186 have ’‫ ”חלץ מהם“ כת‬.‘‘‫“ מי כת’ ’’חלצו לו‬Is it written: ‘They have have drawn it off for him’? It is written, ‘He has drawn (it) off from them’!” 2 3

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statement based on a biblical verse. The min refers to a verse in Hosea and learns from this verse that God has performed the act of Ḥaliṣah to the people of Israel. The levirate marriage (Heb. yibbum), according to which the brother of a dead man is obliged to marry his widow, is legislated in the Bible: ‫כי ישבו אחים יחדו ומת אחד מהם ובן אין לו לא תהיה אשת המת החוצה לאיש‬ ‫ והיה הבכור אשר תלד יקום על‬.‫זר יבמה יבא עליה ולקחה לו לאשה ויבמה‬ .‫שם אחיו המת ולא ימחה שמו מישראל‬ If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother- in- law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. (Deuteronomy 25:5–6) The laws of levirate marriage also stand at the heart of the story of Yehuda and Tamar in Genesis 388 and are known from other Ancient Near Eastern laws.9 However, if the man refuses to marry his sister-in-law, he can perform the act of Ḥaliṣah thereby avoiding the marriage act. The ceremony is described in Deuteronomy 25:7–10: ‫ואם לא יחפץ האיש לקחת את יבמתו ועלתה יבמתו השערה אל הזקנים ואמרה‬ ‫ וקראו לו זקני עירו ודברו‬.‫מאין יבמי להקים לאחיו שם בישראל לא אבה יבמי‬ ‫ ונגשה יבמתו אליו לעיני הזקנים וחלצה‬.‫אליו ועמד ואמר לא חפצתי לקחתה‬ ‫נעלו מעל רגלו וירקה בפניו וענתה ואמרה ככה יעשה לאיש אשר לא יבנה את‬ .‫ ונקרא שמו בישראל בית חלוץ הנעל‬.‫בית אחיו‬ However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” 8 See Calum M. Carmichael, “A Ceremonial Crux: Removing a Man’s Sandal as a Female Gesture of Contempt,” Journal of Biblical Literature 96 (1977), 321–336. 9 On this, see Edward Westermarck, History of Human Marriage (New York: Allerton, 1922), III, 207–221; Millar Burrows, “Levirate Marriage in Israel,” Journal of Biblical Literature 59 (1940), 23–33; Burrows, “The Ancient Oriental Background of Hebrew Levirate Marriage,” BASOR 77 (1940), 2–15; Burrows, “The Marriage of Boaz and Ruth,” Journal of Biblical Literature 59 (1940), 445–454; Theodor H. Gaster, Myth, Legend, and Custom in the Old Testament (New York: Harper, 1969), 449–455.

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his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. The ceremony is thus called Ḥaliṣah, after the act of the removal of the sandal, from the root h- l- ṣ, “to take off, to bare, to draw off/ out.”10 In the Talmudic story the heretic reads the use of the same root in Hosea – “He hath drawn off (halaṣ) from them” – as an indication of the performance of the ceremony of Ḥaliṣah by God with respect to his people. The answer is given in a polemical tone. The min is named “a fool,” and his claim is rebuffed based on the specific details of the Ḥaliṣah ceremony. The heretic’s argument makes sense not only based on the shared word: Hosea uses the term halaṣ for the withdrawal of God, which can be read as the withdrawal of a shoe or a sandal, as in the known Ḥaliṣah ceremony; but the move from a simple meaning of withdrawal to the ceremonial Ḥaliṣah also makes sense based on Hosea’s unique use of the word in Biblical Hebrew. In the Bible, the transitive root h- l- ṣ always denotes the removal of clothes, and specifically of shoes (not only in Deuteronomy, but also in Isaiah 20:2). Hosea’s verse constitutes the only intransitive use of h- l- ṣ denoting the removal of a person rather than a shoe.11 Therefore, the min’s argument draws upon the more regular use of the word in the Bible in order to read its unique use here. Rabban Gamliel’s argument against the min’s statement is that the wording of the verse does not support his reading. He begins by labeling the min “a fool.” As argued in Chapter 2, given the relatively rare occurrence of this insult in the general rabbinic corpus, and its uses in other late antique texts, the Talmudic use of the term should be understood as referential. The correct interpretation of scripture is depicted as being at the core of key arguments between different groups in late antiquity, and the “fool” insult relates directly to the line-drawing discourse on these topics. The story, thus, not only labels the rabbinic opponent as a heretic, but also dubs him “a fool” who misunderstands scripture: The Ḥaliṣah ceremony as

BDB, ‫חלץ‬, 322. See e.g. Walter Wolff, Hosea: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Hosea (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 100–101. 10 11

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described in Deuteronomy requires the sister- in- law to remove the sandal from her brother- in- law’s foot. If the brother- in- law in this scenario is God and the sister-in-law is Israel, we should not expect a biblical version that assigns God with the task of removing the shoe from his people. However, in Hosea the verse reads “from them,” not “for him.” Therefore, says Rabban Gamliel, the analogy does not work: there would be no halakhic validity to the act if the brothers of the dead man were to remove the sandal of their sister- in- law (instead of vice versa). In the same way, in the allegory proposed by the min, the act of Ḥaliṣah by God removing from his people would not be halakhic.12 The argument here is subtle and relies on understanding of both the legal aspects of the ceremony and the Hebrew use of the correct propositions. A comment made by Robert T. Herford makes this clear: “A knowledge not merely of the O.T. scriptures but of the Jewish Law is implied on the part of the min, to whom, otherwise, the answer of R. Gamliel would have been unintelligible.”13 This, in turn, leads Herford to the conclusion that the min had to be “some Christian of Jabneh, where R. Gamliel dwelt.” If one does not choose to go down the historical route, pinpointing the min to a specific religious and geographical background, based on this short story, what can we say about the creation of this tradition? The use of the insult “fool” in a biblical-based argument; the opponent being called a min; and the literary structure of this dialogue in line with other minim stories, lead me to suggest that this story, short as it is, should be read in light of outside, non-rabbinic literary materials. I propose reading it, like the other minim stories in this book, as a rabbinic literary construction, created in light of contemporary Christian uses of the topos of Ḥaliṣah. Christian writers, as demonstrated below, used the the topos of Ḥaliṣah to describe the shift of preference to the Christians. They read many of the biblical mentions of sandals allegorically, in light of the Ḥaliṣah ceremony, and this should be understood as the background to the Talmudic passage.

12 See Herford, Christianity, 235–237. On Ḥaliṣah in rabbinic literature, see Samuel Belkin, “Levirate and Agnate Marriage in Rabbinic and Cognate Literature,” Jewish Quarterly Review 60 (1970), 275–329; Tal Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996) 152–157; Dvora E. Weisberg, “Levirate Marriage and ‘Halitzah’ in the Mishnah,” Annual of Rabbinic Judaism 1 (1998), 37– 69; Weisberg, “The Babylonian Talmud’s Treatment of Levirate Marriage,” Annual of Rabbinic Judaism 3 (2000), 35– 66; Weisberg, Levirate Marriage and the Family in Ancient Judaism (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2009). 13 Herford, Christianity, 237.

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Before we turn to Christian uses of the topic of Ḥaliṣah specifically, the following passages will show that ancient Christian writers read allegorically the general mention of sandals in biblical verses. For example, Jerome reads the scene in Joshua 5, where Joshua is instructed to remove his sandals before entering the Land of Israel (Joshua 5:15), as a sign for the change from the desert period to the entry to the land, and in allegory to the change in the period after Jesus: Now, grasp the mystical meaning of Holy Writ. As long as we are walking through the wilderness, it is necessary that we wear sandals to cover and protect our feet, but when we shall have entered the Land of Promise, we shall hear with Jesus [Joshua], the son of Nave [Nun]: “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place upon which you are standing is holy.” When, therefore, we enter into the kingdom of heaven, we shall have no need of sandals or for protection against this world, but – to give you a new thought – we shall follow the Lamb that has been slain for us.14 The removal of the sandal in Jerome passage signals the removal of the laws of the old covenant. The typological reading of the sandals was similarly read into the New Testament, where John the Baptist prepares the way to Jesus. In Matthew, John says: I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matt 3:11) In the versions of this text in Mark 1:7 (“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie”); Luke 3:16 (“But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”); Acts 13:25 (“But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”); and John 1:26–27: “I baptize people with water … But someone is standing among you whom you do not know. He is the one who comes after me. I am not good enough to untie his sandals”; John the Baptist declares himself unworthy even 14 Jerome, Homily on the Exodus 91, trans. in The Homilies of Saint Jerome, II (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2010), 241.

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of untying (λῦσαι) the sandal, rather than carrying it (βαστάσαι).15 In the background of this saying is the fact that slaves were responsible for untying their master’s shoes. So John the Baptist is saying he is unworthy even to perform the slave’s task for Jesus. Some scholars have viewed Matthew’s version as a change from the original version found in the others,16 and debated the reason behind this change, its origin (Matthew or his source) and its meaning.17 David Daube suggested that Matthew’s John is treating Jesus as his master according to a rabbinic principle preserved in b. Ketubbot 96a, where a disciple should do for his teacher anything a slave would do (such as carrying his shoes), except take his shoes off. Mark and Luke represented John as willing to do even the jobs thought by the rabbis to be “too low for one who was free.”18 The phrasing in Mark, Luke and John makes clearer the later connection to the Christian typological readings of the sandal’s act of Ḥaliṣah. This is seen, for example, in Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew 3:11: “Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” In another gospel he says “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” In the one passage his humility is shown, in the other the mystery that Christ is the Bridegroom, and John is not deserving to loose the strap of the Bridegroom, lest, according to the law of Moses and the example of Ruth, his house be called “the house of the un-sandaled.”19 Jerome here reads in John’s words an allusion to the act of Ḥaliṣah, read metaphorically as to express John’s inferiority. Some modern scholars have agreed with Jerome’s reading and suggested that the element of untying the sandals in John’s words is already intended there to invoke the levirate marriage. Edmondo F. Lupieri writes: “John says that, in the eschatological marriage between the 15

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 49, has Matthew’s βαστάσαι. William D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991), I, 315– 316. And see there their rejection of Bretscher’s reading of the sandal as John’s rather than Jesus’. 17 Brian C. Dennert, John the Baptist and the Jewish Setting of Matthew (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015), 162– 165, summarizes most of the scholarship on this difference. 18 David Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (New York: Arno Press, 1973), 266. Davies and Allison see this proposal as “too ingenious, perhaps” (Critical Commentary, 315). 19 English trans. according to Thomas P. Scheck, Saint Jerome: Commentary on Matthew (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2008), 69. 16

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Messiah/ the bridegroom and Israel/ the bride, he, John, would not be able to take over his marital- eschatological function with Israel from the Messiah.”20 However, I think that Brian Dennert is correct in dismissing the idea that the words of John the Baptist intended to refer to Ḥaliṣah.21 Yet in addition to Jerome, other Christian writers have suggested reading John this way. See, for example, Gregory the Great in the sixth century, who describes the Ḥaliṣah law and explains the relationship between John and Jesus as the replacement of John with Jesus: It was a custom among the ancients that if someone was unwilling to take the wife he should be taking, he who should have come to her as bridegroom by right of relationship would undo his sandal. How did Christ appear among men and women if not as the bridegroom of his holy church? John said of him that “he who has the bride is the bridegroom.” Since people considered John the Christ, a fact that he denied, he was right to declare his unworthiness to undo the strap of Christ’s sandal. It is as if he was saying, “I am not able to lay bare the footsteps of the Redeemer, because I am not unrightfully usurping for myself the name of bridegroom.”22 The connection between Moses, Joshua and John is clearer still in the writings of Chromatius in the fifth century: Now we must focus on what is meant by these sandals from the spiritual standpoint. We know that Moses said long ago: “Put off your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” We read that Joshua the son of Nun likewise said, “Remove the latchet from your sandal.” But as to why they are ordered by the Lord to remove their sandals, we must understand this to

20 Edmondo F. Lupieri, “John the Baptist in New Testament Traditions and History,” ANRW 2.26.1 (1992), 436– 437. This view was recently expressed also in André Villeneuve, Nuptial Symbolism in Second Temple Writings, the New Testament, and Rabbinic Literature: Divine Marriage at Key Moments of Salvation History (Leiden; Brill, 2016), 129–130 (without referencing Lupieri). 21 Dennert, John the Baptist, 164, n. 150. 22 Forty Gospel Homilies, 4. Latin text in Gregorius Magnus, Homiliae in Evangelia cura et studio Raymond Étaix (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999); English trans., David Hurst’s Forty Gospel Homilies (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), 24. In the thirteenth century Thomas Aquinas picked up Gregory’s reading (Super Evangelium Johannis, I, Lecture 13.250).

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity be the type of a future truth. According to the law, if a man is unwilling to accept the wife of his brother after his brother’s death, he should take off his shoes, so that another may marry her and succeed by right of law. As to the commandment prefigured in law, we find it fulfilled in Christ, who is the true bridegroom of the church. Therefore, because neither Moses the lawgiver nor Joshua the leader of the people could be the bridegroom of the church, not without good reason was it said to them that they should remove the sandals from their feet, because the true future bridegroom of the church, Christ, was to be expected. John says concerning him: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom.” To bear or loosen his sandals, John professed himself to be unworthy. The Lord himself through David revealed that these sandals signify the footsteps of gospel preaching when he says, “Upon Edom I cast my shoe”; through his apostles he will take the steps of gospel teaching everywhere.23

Moses and Joshua are seen as having gone through the Ḥaliṣah ceremony when they were asked to remove their shoes and thus had been removed from being the “true bridegroom,” who is now Jesus. The old law was replaced by Jesus, in whom the law has been fulfilled. A similar argument can also be found in the fourth-century writer Ambrose: Therefore it is said to Moses, “Remove the sandals from your feet.” Otherwise Moses, who was chosen as leader of the people, might be thought to be the bridegroom of the church. It was for that reason that Joshua, son of Nun, removed his sandals, in order that he also could preserve the gift of so great a function for him who was to come. It is for that reason that John says, “A man is coming after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” He also says, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy.” This means he alone is the husband of the 23 Tractate on Matt 11:4. The Latin and French text is in Raymond Étaix and Joseph Lemarié, Chromatii Aquileiensis Opera (Turnhout: Brepols, 1974). On Chromatius, see Robert McEachnie, Chromatius of Aquileia and the Making of a Christian City (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

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church, he is the expectation of the nations, and the prophets removed their sandals while offering to him a union of nuptial grace.24 In these Christian writers we have a typological reading of the biblical sandal. We also have the connection made between the removing of the shoe by Moses and Joshua on the one hand and the statement by John the Baptist on the other, to the Ḥaliṣah. The Ḥaliṣah removed the status of bridegroom of Israel from the keeper of the old law and gave it to the new bridegroom, Jesus. I suggest that similar symbolic interpretations of the sandals should serve as the backdrop of the min story in b. Yevamot 102b. The min offered to read Hosea as testifying to a Ḥaliṣah ceremony performed by God to his people. Reading the verb halaṣ in the Hosea verse as referring to the relationship between Israel and God is natural in the biblical context of Hosea. There, Hosea is using his own relationship with his wife as a symbolic representation of Israel and God. The image of God as the husband and Israel as the wife, and the unfaithfulness of the wife as a symbol of the fickle nature of Israel towards God is found in several biblical passages. In Jeremiah 3:8, God declares: “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.”25 The Christian reading of the Hosea verse and its connection to the Ḥaliṣah ceremony is a natural next step, given the context and the verb h-l-ṣ. Even though it is God who commands Moses and Joshua to remove their sandals, the Christian writers do not discuss a Ḥaliṣah done by God himself, but rather by Moses, Joshua and John the Baptist. Nor have I found explicit Christian readings that understand Hosea 5:6 in such a manner. It is important to note that the Septuagint version of the Hosea verse does not use a verb which is related to Ḥaliṣah: μετὰ προβάτων καὶ μόσχων πορεύσονται τοῦ ἐκζητῆσαι τὸν Κύριον καὶ οὐ μὴ εὕρωσιν αὐτόν, ὅτι ἐκκέκλικεν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν

24 The Patriarchs 4.21–22, trans. Fathers of the Church Patristic Series (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2002), 254. See also Augustine, Sermon 101.7. On Ambrose’s Patriarchs, see Marcia L. Colish, Ambrose’s Patriarchs: Ethics for the Common Man (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005). 25 William L. Holladay, Jeremiah 1: A Commentary on the Books of the Prophet Jeremiah (Philadelphia: Augsburg Fortress, 1986), 47–131.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity With sheep and calves they shall go to seek the Lord, and they will not find him, because he has turned away from them.26

As such, the Christians reading the verses in the Greek were not using this specific verse in Hosea to discuss Ḥaliṣah in their assertion against the Jews. But as I shall show below, they were using the verse in a more general sense to indicate God’s turning away from his people (Cyril of Alexandria), and, more importantly, they were using the topos of Ḥaliṣah elsewhere to talk about God’s abandonment of Israel. Thus, I believe contemporaneous Christian writings can illuminate the background for our passage as they make the explicit link of the Ḥaliṣah ceremony and the move from the Old Testament to the New. What the min is suggesting is reading the Hosea verse as proof for the Ḥaliṣah of God from Israel. Ḥaliṣah itself is widely discussed in Christian interpretations, using the verse on Moses and Joshua and John. There, the Christian writers discuss the Ḥaliṣah as transference of leadership, signaling the move from the Old Testament to the New. Here, the min in the Talmud continues in this hermeneutical move and finds the act of Ḥaliṣah done by God – removing himself from his people. I want to make clear that I do not claim any genealogical connection between any of the Christian writers mentioned above and the composer of the Talmudic passage. First off, the writers that express the idea of Ḥaliṣah in this way are Western, mostly Latin, which makes the case for literary connection less likely (though, not impossible, as explored in Chapter 3, in regards for example to Ambrose of Milan). Second, there is no need to prove a direct connection, for my current argument. I only wish to claim that, in line with prophetic writings discussing the matrimonial difficulties between God and his people, Ḥaliṣah is a natural next step, especially in Christian circles, or in a fictional Christian setting imagined by the rabbis, where the claim for the transference of supremacy is being made. This argument is strengthened by the fact that Christian writers did in fact use the Hosea 5:6 verse to claim the withdrawal of God from Israel, as shown by Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg.27 See Cyril of Alexandria, in his commentary on Hosea:

26 English translations of the Septuagint are based on the Electronic Edition of NETS (=A New English Translation of the Septuagint, Oxford: OUP, 2009, including corrections and emendations). The Twelve Prophets were translated by George E. Howard http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/ 27 Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg, The People of the Book without the Book: Jewish Ambivalence towards the Biblical Text After the Rise of Christianity (Ph.D. diss.,

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“With sheep and calves they will go to seek out the Lord, and will not find him, for he has turned away from them because they abandoned the Lord, because illegitimate children were born to them” (Hosea 5:6–7). The facts highlight the truth that, as the divinely inspired Paul says, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins,” (Heb 10:4) and that access to God is not granted through the Law, “by Law” referring to the ritual of bloody sacrifices prescribed by the Law. So even if the people of Israel made the prescribed offerings in supplication for forgiveness of their unholy crimes or in search of a relationship with God, they would not attain it, he is saying, nor would they manage to succeed in finding God, nor would access be granted to those showing repentance in this way. He is found, you see, only through life in Christ, to which the word of faith would be taken as an introduction and also saving baptism, which is the basis of relationship with God in the Spirit. Consequently, Israel would not find the Lord.28 As discussed in Chapter 3, Cyril of Alexandria was very well-known in the East and many of his works were translated into Syriac and are preserved in manuscripts from as early as the middle of the fifth to the middle of the sixth century. The focus of Cyril’s words, in this passage, is on the connection between the two parts of the verse: they seek God with their flocks and herds, they hope to reach God with sacrifices, but it will prove ineffective. Cyril takes the critique of the misuse of sacrifice, known from other prophetic writings as well (cf. Isaiah 1:11), and speaks about the larger issue: access to God through the Law. And Cyril asserts: “access to God is not granted through the Law,” but rather through Christ. In her reflection on this passage, Hauna T. Ondrey stresses that Cyril indeed makes the leap from Old Testament Israel to first-century Jews of the time of Jesus: Even within the Commentary on the Twelve, Cyril’s comments regarding the insufficiency of the Mosaic cult in giving Old Testament Israel access to God and remitting sin must be read as statements regarding the law’s value relative to Christ. Cyril is unambiguous in upholding Christ’s

University of Chicago, 2015), 323– 325. I am thankful to Yoni Nadiv for this reference. 28 Hill, Cyril of Alexandria, 126.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity mediatory and expiatory superiority to the law … The reference to baptism in this [=Hosea 5:6] context indicates that here Cyril denies the Mosaic cult final mediatory efficacy within the New Covenant.29

Christian writers therefore, used this specific Hosea verse to prove God’s permanent removal from Israel, as opposed to the temporary one intended by the original biblical verse. Notice, as stated above, that the Ḥaliṣah argument is not made in connection with this verse. However, Rabban Gamliel’s response to the Talmudic min is a very good one: the use of the verse does not align with the halakhic requirements of Ḥaliṣah, since it describes God taking off his own shoe rather than his shoe being taken off for him. In many of the Talmudic rabbi-min dialogues, the heretic’s argument looks at first sight as a silly one, or at least one that is easily refutable. This makes one wonder what the point of these passages may be, other than to ridicule the min, if the answer is obvious. I wish to claim, as I did in other stories explored in this book, that when the background to the heretic’s question is illuminated, then his question has greater standing than first appears. While the rabbi figure’s answer is often based on rabbinic halakha, or the rabbinic way of reading the verses, the min’s question often has a basis in the non-Jewish context as well. The literary dialogue between the two figures is part of a discourse of boundarymaking between these Christian arguments and the rabbinic ones. In the case of the min story in b. Yevamot 102b, I want to go back to the above quoted Christian writers to point out one essential element in their argument. These writers read the verses on Moses, Joshua and John, in which the man himself removes the shoe, as signalling the separation. In their treatises, the writers explain or imply the ceremony of Ḥaliṣah to be conducted along the same lines of the explanation given by Gregory the Great; for example: “It was a custom among the ancients that if someone was unwilling to take the wife he should be taking, he who should have come to her as bridegroom … would undo his sandal.” Or Chromatius: “if a man is unwilling to accept the wife of his brother after his brother’s death, he should take off his shoe.” These writers explain the rules of Ḥaliṣah differently than the ceremony associated with levirate marriage in Deuteronomy. According to them, the man himself takes off the sandal, rather than the sister-in-law. And most importantly, only according to this depiction of the law does the symbolic reading of 29 Hauna T. Ondrey, The Minor Prophets as Christian Scripture in the Commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria (Oxford: OUP, 2018), 123.

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Moses, Joshua and John work. The man has to be the one to take off his shoe to effectuate the change. Where did the Christian writers pick up this halakhic detail? The removal of the shoe is mentioned in one other place in the Bible, Ruth 4:2–8: ,‫ לגואל‬,‫ ויאמר‬.‫ ויישבו‬,‫ מזקני העיר ויאמר שבו פה‬,‫וייקח עשרה אנשים‬ ‫ ואני‬.‫ השבה משדה מואב‬,‫ אשר לאחינו לאלימלך מכרה נועמי‬,‫חלקת השדה‬ ,‫ אם תגאל גאל‬,‫ קנה נגד היושבים ונגד זקני עמי‬,‫אמרתי אגלה אוזנך לאמור‬ ,‫ ויאמר‬.‫ואם לא יגאל הגידה לי ואדעה כי אין זולתך לגאול ואנוכי אחריך‬ ‫ ומאת רות המואבייה‬,‫ ביום קנותך השדה מיד נועמי‬,‫ ויאמר בועז‬.‫אנוכי אגאל‬ ‫ לא אוכל לגאול‬,‫ ויאמר הגואל‬.‫ על נחלתו‬,‫ קנית להקים שם המת‬,‫אשת המת‬ ‫ וזאת‬.‫ כי לא אוכל לגאול‬,‫ גאל לך אתה את גאולתי‬.‫ את נחלתי‬,‫לי פן אשחית‬ ‫ ונתן‬,‫ שלף איש נעלו‬,‫ לקיים כל דבר‬,‫לפנים בישראל על הגאולה ועל התמורה‬ .‫ וישלוף נעלו‬.‫ קנה לך‬,‫ ויאמר הגואל לבועז‬.‫ בישראל‬,‫ וזאת התעודה‬.‫לריעהו‬ Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he (i.e. the guardian-redeemer) said. Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” At this, the guardian- redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it. because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel. So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. The removal of the shoe appears here in the context of redemption of both land and a dead man’s wife. But the act of the removal of the shoe, similar to the act of Ḥaliṣah as described in Deuteronomy, appears here as well, in connection with the refusal to marry the widow of a childless man. The differences between the cases were noted by ancient and modern writers, such as the fact that in this case the person asked to marry the widow is not the brother, but a

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farther blood relative, and the removal of the shoe is not done by the woman.30 Scholars debate whether the Deuteronomy and Ruth verses refer indeed to the same ceremony.31 But it is obvious that the Christian writers saw them as such and relied on the description in Ruth to complete their analogy. See, for example, Ambrose: Again, St. John Baptist also taught in less weighty language what ideas they were he had combined, saying: After me comes a Man, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, setting forth at least the more excellent dignity [of Christ], though not the eternity of His Divine Generation. Now these words are so fully intended of the Incarnation, that Scripture has given us, in an earlier book, a human counterpart of the mystic sandal. For, by the Law, when a man died, the marriage bond with his wife was passed on to his brother, or other man next of kin, in order that the seed of the brother or next of kin might renew the life of the house, and thus it was that Ruth, though she was foreign- born, but yet had possessed a husband of the Jewish people, who had left a kinsman of near relation, being seen and loved of Boaz while gleaning and maintaining herself and her mother- inlaw with that she gleaned, was yet not taken of Boaz to wife, until she had first loosed the shoe from [the foot of] him whose wife she ought, by the Law, to have become. The story is a simple one, but deep are its hidden meanings, for that which was done was the outward betokening of somewhat further. If indeed we should rack the sense so as to fit the letter exactly, we should almost find the words an occasion of a certain shame and horror, that we should regard them as intending and conveying the thought of common bodily intercourse; but it was the foreshadowing of One Who was to arise from Jewry – whence Christ was, after the flesh – Who should, with the seed of heavenly teaching, revive the 30 See e.g. Samuel R. Driver, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy (New York: Scribner, 1896), 28; Julian Morgenstern, “The Book of the Covenant: Part II,” Hebrew Union College Annual 7 (1930), 160–184; Louis M. Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Bible and the Talmud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1942), 86–100; Harold H. Rowley, “The Marriage of Ruth,” Harvard Theological Review 40 (1947), 77– 99; Ronald de Vaux, Ancient Israel (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1961), 522; Belkin, “Levirate and Agnate Marriage”; Edward F. Campbell, Ruth (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975), 150; Richard L. Kalmin, “Levirate Law,” Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), IV, 296–297. 31 See Reuben Ahroni, “The Levirate and Human Rights,” in Nahum Rakover (ed.), Jewish Law and Current Legal Problems (Jerusalem: Library of Jewish Law, 1984), 67–76.

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seed of his dead kinsman, that is to say, the people, and to Whom the precepts of the Law, in their spiritual significance, assigned the sandal of marriage, for the espousals of the Church. Moses was not the bridegroom, for to him comes the word, “Loose your shoe from off your foot,” that he might give place to his Lord. Nor was Joshua, the son of Nun, the bridegroom, for to him also it was told, saying, “Loose your shoe from off your foot,” lest, by reason of the likeness of his name, he should be thought the spouse of the church. None other is the bridegroom but Christ alone, of whom John said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom.” They, therefore, loose their shoes, but his shoe cannot be loosed, even as John said, “I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” To whom else but the Word of God incarnate can those words apply?32 Here, the verses in the book of Ruth are seen as the example for the implementation of Ḥaliṣah laws. Notice that Ambrose, as opposed to the other writers above (for example, Gregory the Great and Chromatius), alters the biblical narrative so that Ruth is the one loosening the shoe from the redeemer. This fits better with the Deuteronomy law of Ḥaliṣah, but the rest of the symbolic reading, in Moses, Joshua and John, only works if the man is the one loosening the sandal, as the story in Ruth itself conveys. Thus, the Christian reading of the Ḥaliṣah symbolism is based on a performance of the ceremony as described in Ruth. The rabbinic reading of these conflicting halakhic procedures relies on the framing of the act in the Book of Ruth as different from that of Deuteronomy. The action in Ruth is described as one performed in transfer of ownership, and therefore has no bearing on the correct way to perform the Ḥaliṣah described in Deuteronomy. Modern readers have also regarded the differences in the details between Deuteronomy and Ruth as a sure sign of two different ceremonies. Thus, for example, Calum M. Carmichael: In Ruth the ceremony as regards the ceding of a right to redeem some land is a relatively straightforward legal one between two parties, while in Deuteronomy the ceremony 32 On the Christian Faith 3.10.71–74; trans. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: St. Ambrose: Select Works and Letters (Oxford: Parker, 1896), 253. On Ambrose’s “On the Christian Faith,” see Daniel H. Williams, “Polemics and Politics in Ambrose of Milan’s ‘De Fide,’ ” Journal of Theological Studies 46 (1995), 519–531.

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity involving the sandal is one in which one party publicly disgraces another. Moreover, in Ruth one party removes his shoe and hands it to the other, while in Deuteronomy the woman takes off the man’s shoe. He does not hand it over. Further, the verb to remove the sandal in Ruth is šlp while in Deuteronomy it is hlṣ. The difference is significant.33

Moreover, the rabbis tended to view the sandal that was removed (in the words: “and he removed his sandal”) as the shoe of Boaz rather than that of the redeemer (Ruth Rabbah 7:10). Thus, for the rabbis, the Ruth verses should not be taken as basis for the correct way to preform Ḥaliṣah. In b. Yevamot, the heretic’s reading of Hosea 5:6 as God performing the Ḥaliṣah, separating from the people of Israel, is indeed a plausible reading of the verse, according to the Christian tradition as outlined above. Given the biblical context of Hosea, of marital problems between God and Israel, and allowing for the loosening of the shoe to be done by the man himself, as proven by the Ruth narrative, the reading is indeed a probable one. Rabban Gamliel’s answer is rabbinic. The rabbis view Ruth’s verses as referring to issues of ownership and not Ḥaliṣah. Ḥaliṣah is done according to Deuteronomy. and if the brother were to loosen the sandal of his sister-in-law, the Ḥaliṣah will not hold. When quoting the words of R. Gamliel, I have used the version found in Munich 95 and Vatican 111, Moscow- Guenzburg 1017 and 594, as well as the printed versions: “Is it written: ‘He has drawn off [the shoe] for them?’ It is written, ‘He has drawn [it] off from them’ ” (‫ מי כתיב ”חלץ להם“? ”חלץ מהם“ כתיב‬mi ktiv “halaṣ lahem” “halaṣ mehem” ktiv). I am reading the lamed here, both in the min’s argument and in R. Gamliel’s claim, as an affected dative, to mean “for them,” rather than “to them,” as one of the functions of the preposition lamed in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic.34 If I am right in suggesting that the min’s claim is based on Christian readings of Ḥaliṣah, then this version works best: The min is suggesting that God performed Ḥaliṣah by removing God’s own shoe. R. Gamliel answers that, according to the Christian claim, the verse should have said “for them,” but it does not. It says “from them” – as if to say he took the shoes off the people! The option of taking the shoe off the woman is not an option of either biblical narrative, neither the rabbinic or Christian reading of the Ḥaliṣah ceremony. 33 Carmichael, “A Ceremonial Crux,” 324. See also Anthony Phillips, Deuteronomy (London: CUP, 1973), 169. 34 See Bar- Asher Siegal, Introduction, 221– 222 and 228– 229, for this use of the preposition.

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However, manuscripts Munich 141, Oxford 248 and Geniza fragment Cambridge-T-S F2 (1) 186 have “Is it written: ‘They have have drawn it off for him’? It is written, ‘He has drawn off from them’ ” (’‫ מי כת’ ’’חלצו לו‘‘? ”חלץ מהם“ כת‬mi kt’ “halṣu lo” “halaṣ mehem” kt’ ). This version completely misses the Christian argument, and its reliance on a different Ruth-based halakha. R. Gamliel’s answer argues that, even according to that halakhic argument, the grammatical phrasing of the verse does not work. In this version, R. Gamliel asks the min a question which is based on the rabbinic halakha: it should have said “they drew [it] off for him,” because this is how the rabbinic ceremony of Ḥaliṣah works. This version reads everything as if the lamed indicates the direct object, as if the man is drawing the shoe from the woman. And, indeed, this Babylonian Talmudic story appears in a later source, Midrash Tehillim 10:8, where the version I have adopted appears as well: ‫" זהו שאמר הכתוב "בצאנם ובבקרם‬.‫דבר אחר "למה ה' תעמוד ברחוק‬ ‫" פילוסופיס אחד שאל את רבן‬,‫ילכו לבקש את ה' ולא ימצאו חלץ מהם‬ ‫" אמר‬,‫" אמר לו "הן‬,?‫ "יש לכם לומר מקוים אנו למקום שיגאלנו‬:‫גמליאל‬ ‫' וכי יש‬,‫ ולא אמר הכתוב 'חלץ מהם‬,‫ אינו שב אליכם‬,‫לו "שקר אתם אומרים‬ ‫" השיבו רבן‬,‫אשה חולצת ]ויכול בעלה לשוב אליה? מכאן שאינו שב אליכם‬ ‫ אמר ליה‬,["‫" אמר לו "האשה חולצת‬,?‫גמליאל "מי חולץ האשה או האיש‬ ‫ יבמה דחלצו לה אחין מידי מששא אית‬.‫ ואנו לא חלצנו לו‬,‫"הוא חלץ אותנו‬ ‫ וכן הוא אומר 'קמתי אני לפתוח לדודי‬,‫' 'מהם' כתיב‬,‫ביה? מי כתיב 'חלץ להם‬ ".‫'" התחילו קוראין "למה ה' תעמוד ברחוק‬,‫ודודי חמק עבר‬ Another comment on “Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?” (Psalms 10:1). This verse is to be considered in light of what Scripture says elsewhere: “With their flocks and with their herds they shall go to see the Lord, but they shall not find him. He hath drawn off from them” (Hosea 5:6). A certain philosopher asked Rabban Gamliel: “Is it possible that you [still] say, ‘We wait for the Lord who will deliver us?’ ” He answered: “Yes.” He said: “You are uttering a lie. He does not return to you, for does not Scripture say, ‘He hath drawn off from them’? Can a childless widow who, performing the ceremony of Ḥaliṣah, draws the shoe off her brother- in- law’s foot, expect to have her husband return to her? And therefore it follows that He [=God] will not return to you!” Rabban Gamliel answered: “In the ceremony of Ḥaliṣah, who draws off the shoe, the woman or the man?” He [=the philosopher] answered: “The woman draws the shoe off.” He [=Rabban Gamliel] said: “God has drawn off

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Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity from us, but we have not drawn off from Him. If the surviving brothers drew the shoe off the woman’s foot, what validity would such an act have? Is it written, ‘He has drawn off for them’? It is written, ‘from them.’ Thus also Scripture says, ‘I opened to my Beloved; but my Beloved had drawn away, and was gone’ (Song of Songs 5:6).” They started calling: “Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?” (Psalms 10:1).35

Scholars debate the dating of the first part of Midrash Tehillim, to which this section belongs, placing it anywhere between earlier Talmudic times or the later Geonic period.36 In this case, I think it is clear that this tradition is secondary to that found in the Babylonian Talmud. We notice a few changes between the traditions. First, the “min” appears here instead as “a philosopher.” Second, the short dialogue in the Talmud is elaborated and presented more clearly. To be sure, even when the secondary text is clearer and easier to understand, one cannot be certain that the author of the midrashic passage understood the meaning of the original Talmudic passage correctly, rather than simplifying and thus misrepresenting the original intent of the text. However, since this midrashic compilation was produced closer in time to the composition of the original Talmudic passage, it is reassuring to see that it, too, understood the text in a manner similar to my proposed reading. Third, the text here accepts the assumption that God has indeed forsaken his people. Rabban Gamliel admits that God has performed Ḥaliṣah and left, but the point of contention is whether Israel can expect him to return. This is not the sense one gets from the Talmudic text, where the overall dialogue appears to center on the original moment that God left Israel. In the Talmud, the rabbinic claim is that, since the Ḥaliṣah cannot be read into the wording of 35 Hebrew text quoted from Salomon Buber, Midrash Tehillim (Vilna, 1891), and English trans., modified from William G. Braude, The Midrash on Psalms (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1987), 157–158. Braude understood the Hebrew ‫וכי יש‬ ‫ אשה חולצת ויכול בעלה לשוב אליה‬as referring to the dead husband’s return: “Can a childless widow who, performing the ceremony of Halisah, draws the shoe off her brotherin- law’s foot, expect to have her dead husband return to her?” I think this reading is unlikely and does not follow the analogy of God leaving his people and not returning. God will not return, according to the Philosopher, because God has performed the act of Ḥaliṣah, not because there is an external reason, such as death in the analogous situation, preventing him from doing so. This should be read as referring to the future husband, participating in the Ḥaliṣah ceremony, and thus severing ties with the woman meant to be his wife. 36 Strack and Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, 322–323.

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the verse, a reading that inserts Ḥaliṣah into the verse is invalid. But in the later midrash, the rabbinic response accepts the Ḥaliṣah reading in the verse, and assumes God indeed performed such an act, but they continue to demonstrate that the act, according to the wording of the verse, had no halakhic validity. Accordingly, God will inevitably return to his people. And lastly, the passage in the midrash is based on the same version of the argument as my own reading: “‫“ ”מהם‬,‫מי כתיב ”חלץ להם‬ ‫“ כתיב‬Is it written, ‘He has drawn off for them?’ It is written, ‘from them.’” The Talmudic version I prefer therefore receives further support from this later midrash. According to this version, the entire sentence is meant to ridicule the min for not being familiar with rabbinic law. Only according to this Munich 95 version is there some background to the Christian argument, rather than a completely wrong (and foolish!) argument. The min says: A people for which the master performed Ḥaliṣah, and R. Gamliel answers: No, according to you it should have been “he performed Ḥaliṣah for them,” but it says, “he performed Ḥaliṣah from them” which can only mean that he took off their shoes, and according to rabbinic law, as well Christian views, if a brother takes off the shoe of the woman, it does not count as Ḥaliṣah. It stands to reason, then, that this second version was created when the Christian argument was no longer understood. Along with the basis for the allegory, all typological readings of the biblical verses of Moses and Joshua, and their removal of the shoes, would also collapse, given the rabbinic halakhic basis. In fact, none of the Christian readings of these passages would make sense for the rabbis, not so much on Christological as on halakhic grounds. These are not mentioned in Talmudic passage at hand, but I think it can be suggested that such argumentation stands in the background of our min story.37 While the rabbinic answer manages to deflect the Christian argument using halakhic details, it is still worthwhile to stress, yet again, that the Christian argument has a basis in the biblical narrative. It is presented as foolish, but it is certainly not groundless. In line with the other stories examined in this book, I think the story here presents a solution offered by the rabbis to tackle a threatening argument. The argument made by the Christians about the transference of the favor of God is rooted in verses held sacred by both sides of the debate. The halakhic basis for both views is the details concerning Ḥaliṣah 37

I am thankful to Holger Zellentin for this emphasis.

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found in Ruth and Deuteronomy. The anxiety evident in the mere creation of such stories, as well as the harsh language used in them, are all part of the boundary- making discourse, rooted in the threat the other side represents. Moreover, the bottom line of the rabbinic statement in this story is ironic: the Christian argument is that God has performed Ḥaliṣah from the old Law. The rabbis answer: well, that argument does not stand, specifically because the law of Ḥaliṣah will not work in the case as you describe it! This point is even stronger, considering we know that Christian writers such as Cyril of Alexandria used this exact Hosea verse to argue that “access to God is not granted through the Law,” but through Christ. The rabbis insist on proving their relevance by using that same law rejected by the Christian. The access to God, the proof he is not able to turn away from his people, is found, exactly, in the law. In addition, this line of argument actually works well with other rabbinic passages in the Babylonian Talmud in which there is an attempt to bind God to Israel by means of halakhic arguments. For example, b. Baba Qamma 60b uses Lamentations 4:11 – “The Lord has given full vent to his wrath, he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations” – to claim that now that God has set a fire to Zion, he is obligated to stay and repair the damage.38 If my reading of the Talmudic story is correct, the literary choice of Rabban Gamliel as the protagonist of the dialogue with the heretic, can also be explained. Scholars assume that Rabban Gamliel in rabbinic literature can refer to two different tannaitic sages, but more often it refers to the second- generation Palestinian tanna of that name (late first, early second century CE).39 He is depicted in rabbinic sources as a member of a family of dignitaries. He is the grandfather of Rabbi Judah the Prince, and the son of Rabban Shimon b. Gamliel, and he himself is described as a Nasi. Similarly to R. Joshua, as discussed in Chapter 5, Rabban Gamliel is depicted in multiple rabbinic sources as well traveled. He accompanies R. Joshua when visiting Rome (m. ‘Eruvin 4:1; t. Horayot 2:5; Sifre, ‘Ekev 43; Genesis Rabbah 13; y. Sanhedrin 7:11 (25d); b. Giṭṭin 58a). He is often depicted as debating with philosophers and Roman officials (b. ‘Avodah Zarah 54b, 55a; y. Baba Qamma 4:3 (4b)), and praising the Persians (b. Berakhot 8b). Elsewhere in the Babylonian Talmud, 38 39

I owe this last insight to Moshe Lavee and thank him for discussing this with me. See Aaron Hyman, Toldot Tanaʻim ve-Amorim (London, 1910), 310–318 [Hebrew].

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Sanhedrin 39a, he is answering “the Emperor’s” questions about biblical verses that might suggest erroneous theological conclusions.40 In one famous source, in m. ‘Avodah Zarah 3:4, he is described as surprisingly lenient about interactions with Romans and their Gods: ‫שאל פרקלוס בן פלסלוס את רבן גמליאל בעכו שהיה רוחץ במרחץ‬ '.‫ "כתוב בתורתכם 'ולא ידבק בידך מאומה מן החרם‬:‫ אמ' לו‬.‫שלאפרודיטי‬ ".‫ "אין משיבין במרחץ‬.‫מפני מה אתה רוחץ במרחץ שלאפרודיטי?" אמ' לו‬ ‫ 'נעשה‬.'‫ אין או‬.‫ היא באת בגבולי‬.‫ "אני לא באתי בגבולה‬.‫וכשיצא אמ' לו‬ 41 "'.‫ אלא נעשת היא אפרודיטי נוי למרחץ‬.‫מרחץ לאפרודיטי‬ Proklos the son of Philslos asked Rabban Gamliel in Acre while he was bathing in the Bath of Aphrodite, and said to him, “It is written in your Law, ‘And there shall cleave nought of the devoted thing to thine hand.’ (Deuteronomy 13:18), Why [then] dost thou bathe in the Bath of Aphrodite?” He answered, “One may not make answer in the bath.” And when he came out he said, “I came not within her limits: she came within mine!” They do not say, “Let us make a bath for Aphrodite,” but “Let us make an Aphrodite as an adornment for the bath.”42 Rabban Gamliel is bathing in a Roman bath, alongside Romans, surrounded by an explicit depiction of a (naked?) Greek Goddess. In a learned discourse, he allows for general Jewish interactions with such Greco-Roman symbols, under certain terms and caveats.43 But perhaps more interestingly is that the Babylonian Talmud elsewhere assigns the composition of the blessing against the minim44 to the period of Rabban Gamliel’s leadership in b. Berakhot 28b.45 Thus, the protagonist understandably chosen for the creation of this Talmudic Babylonian story is a known rabbinical figure, depicted 40

Discussed in Chapter 3. According to MS Kaufmann. 42 Trans. according to Herbert Danby, The Mishnah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012 [reprint]), 440. 43 For more on this famous story with references to further bibliography, see Azzan Yadin, “Rabban Gamliel, Aphrodite’s Bath, and the Question of Pagan Monotheism,” Jewish Quarterly Review 96 (2006), 149–179. 44 See Teppler, Birchat haMinim. 45 Among those who wish to recreate historical reality based on this story, there is some debate whether this was the first or second Rabban Gamliel (see Maimonides, Tefilah 2:1 vs. Hyman, Toldot Tanaʻim ve-Amorim). However, what is important to me is the literary depiction of a “Rabban Gamliel” as someone who comes in contact with non-Jews and disputes minim, to justify its use in creating such a story of a dialogue between this character and a Christian heretic. 41

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elsewhere as having contacts with non-Jews and debating with such characters concerning the meaning of select biblical verses. Conclusion I wished to show that reading the Talmudic story against the backdrop of Christian reading of the Ḥaliṣah ceremony can shed new light on the min- rabbi dialogue. The discussion between the rabbis and the min revolved around God’s chosen people, before and after Jesus. This is a Jewish-Christian argument, no doubt; one rooted and repeated in many other passages, Christian and Jewish. But in this case, the meaning and uses of the Ḥaliṣah topos in other Christian writings of the time are brought to the reading of the Hosea verse, and put in the mouth of the Christian heretic. Not only is the use of Ḥaliṣah important here, but the story seems to imply awareness that Christian uses of the topos are based on a different halakhic formulation of the law, in which the man takes off his own shoe. Only based on this knowledge does the position of the min in the Talmud makes any sense. The Talmud rebuffs the Christian claim about the Hosea verse, with a good rabbinic refutation, and based on rabbinic halakha. But it puts in the mouth of the heretic a claim that can only be based on this analogy, which is itself based on a different formulation of the Ḥaliṣah law. Within the context of this larger project of minim stories in the Babylonian Talmud, this story is yet another step in figuring out the complex matrix of Jewish- Christian relations in late antiquity and the Persian Empire.

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The rather vexing problem with minim stories is that they are often too succinct: no more than scant lines from a biblical quote, addressed by the min with few words, which are briefly rebutted by a rabbinic figure. In most cases, the heretic’s words do not expose the full Christian argument I claim lies at their foundation. Of course, this occurs elsewhere in rabbinic literature as well, when brief and sometimes vague references to Christian traditions rely on broader knowledge that is indeed not presented in the rabbinic source.1 In truth, the genre of rabbinic literature as a whole suffers from an enigmatic shorthand style that makes it hard to understand without the helpful interpretations of commentators such as Rashi. In this case, one must be familiar with non- rabbinic traditions in order to understand the concise rabbinic reference. A modern- day reader of these texts can sometimes supplement the rabbinic texts by referencing additional exterior sources, as I have done. But admittedly, this supplementation task makes my arguments less elegant, especially considering this study is part of a larger academic project, still in its infancy, trying to make a case for the study of early Christianity in the Babylonian Talmud. I decided to pursue the study of these stories because I had one example that supplied more than just the typical brief few lines. The story in b. Ḥullin, which included such elements as one “good” min and one “bad,” and numerous satirical elements and subtle references to Christian motifs, supplied me with a foundation significant enough to make a case for the mini- corpus as a whole. Each story

1 For one such example see Moshe Halbertal and Shlomo Naeh, “Spring of Salvation:  Interpretive Satire and the Refutation of Heretics,” in Joshua Levinson, Jacob Elbaum and Galit Hasan-Rokem (eds), Higayon L’Yona: New Aspects in the Study of Midrash, Aggadah and Piyyut in Honor of Yonah Fraenkel (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University 2006), 179–198 [Hebrew].

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may be convincing in its own right, but the corpus as a whole lends credibility to underlying Christian traditions in all of the stories. If my readings of these stories are correct, they offer certain advantages, which should be noted. But before we turn to these conclusions I wish to divert the discussion to the meaning and function of the vexing rabbinic literary genre of minim stories. First, the stories are designed as dialogues. I do not believe these dialogues represent historical meetings between Christians and early Palestinian rabbis, but rather a literary creation by the later Talmudic authors. For possible parallel literary constructions to the Talmudic Babylonian minim stories, scholars have studied the Gospels’ chreiai and noted their formulaic nature in relation to this literary tool in Greco-Roman scholarship. These stories involve a challenge and a response. The challenge is generally presented by a scribe or a Pharisee, who is depicted as petty. These opponents generally raise a halakhic challenge, and rather than meet it directly with a halakhic rebuttal, Jesus is depicted as undercutting their position with an indirect but wise response that is sympathetic to human needs, exposing their pettiness. The response only seems indirect because it goes directly to the heart of the matter.2 Nonetheless, these passages should also be viewed in context of the larger historical picture pertaining to the use of debate and dialogue in late antiquity. In her book Dialoguing in Late Antiquity, Averil Cameron surveyed the “intense level of actual debate during late antiquity, including many examples of public formal debate, and the very wide range of types and subjects it covered, from philosophical to religious.”3 These debates, which were part of the religious world of late antique Christianity, particularly in the East, “formed opinion, advocated key positions in the development of Christian thought, and were part of the process of ‘Christianization.’ ”4 Scholars such as Maijastina Kahlos5 pointed to the function of such texts in the dialectic creation of “the other,” for the purpose of setting boundaries and creating “orthodoxy”:

2 See e.g. Lawrence M. Wills, The Quest of the Historical Gospel: Mark, John, and the Origins of the Gospel Genre (London; New York: Routledge, 1997), 166–170; Burton L. Mack, Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006). I am truly grateful to Larry Wills for his help in formulating this last point. 3 Averil Cameron, Dialoguing in Late Antiquity (Washington, DC:  Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University, 2014), 37. 4 Cameron, Dialoguing, p. x. 5 Maijastina Kahlos, Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures c. 360– 430 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

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Irony and ridicule were powerful armaments in Christian polemic. The rival views and their consequences were represented as ridiculous and thus as perverted views that cannot be taken seriously … The beliefs of others were debarred as foolishness, naivity, illusion or myth. Rivals were mocked and called with names – pushed into categories with deprecatory connotations.6 The rabbinic stories about dialogues concerning faith and biblical verses should therefore be placed alongside the literary testimony of many of these contemporaneous Christian debates. It is not my intention to promote a “historical” view of the rabbinic stories, but rather to point out the similar literary depiction of such dialogues in late antiquity. These dialogues used satire and parody as part of their literary toolbox.7 In this short conclusion to the book, I shall not attempt to define the exact nature of the literary tools used by the rabbis to mock and polemicize against what they perceived as heresy. The important distinction between satire and parody, for example, is not crucial to this book’s concerted attempt to locate the Christian background to the creation of these stories, and has been discussed by other scholars.8 For the purpose of my analysis, I shall use Holger Zellentin’s broad outline of such structures, where the rabbis “claim to know their adversaries’ texts but proceed to portray them as incompatible with the way things are or ought to be according to the parodist’s own world view.”9 Terry Lindvall, in God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert, surveys such religious satires throughout history, and describes overarching patterns alongside differences, concluding: First, as satire is used to attack, it aims not just to slice and dice, but to correct and reform … Second, satire employs wit and humor; it entertains. It is not always funny, but it appeals to a recognition of the ridiculous … But wedding wit to moral concern makes for the most blessed, fertile state of satire … Christian satire would flash throughout 6

Kahlos, Debate, 72. For a good summary of theories of satire in polemical context see Dustin Griffin, Satire:  A Critical Reintroduction (Lexington, KY:  University Press of Kentucky, 2015), 6–34. 8 See summary and references in Holger M. Zellentin, Rabbinic Parodies of Jewish and Christian Literature (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 1–26. 9 Zellentin, Rabbinic Parodies, 11. 7

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Satire and parody were thus widely used in religious debates and literary dialogues in late antiquity. The rabbinic Talmudic literary creation of dialogues with heretics seems an imitation of this literary genre. In longer stories in particular such as the one in b. Ḥullin, where satirical and parodic elements are clearly aimed at Christian beliefs, these scholarly observations regarding the Christian texts can frame the rabbinic Talmudic texts in time and place. Cameron points to the importance of these Christian dialogues as textual practices designed to combat heresy: “In this sense such dialogues were as important as theological treatises or council decisions in the formation of opinion on doctrinal matters.”11 As indicated throughout this book, the minim stories are part of the literary works of boundary-making discourse, similar to the Christian texts in their naming of the opponent as heretics, and in their literary strategies of satire and insults. The use of satire and parody, as in the b. Ḥullin story, and subtle references to Christian texts, as in all of the stories analyzed in this book, also teaches us about the intended audience of these rabbinic passages. In satire “the addressee and addresser must agree that the author’s attack and the reader’s condemnation are justified by the values articulated or implied by the satire, or by the aesthetic qualities of the work.”12 Satire and parody are only funny if the listener agrees to accept what she hears: “Satire demands an audience which either agrees with the propriety of attack or is willing to do so for purposes of entertainment.”13 In other words, the Talmudic passages were clearly intended for an inner audience, an audience willing to mock Christian traditions. Perhaps even more importantly, writing the minim stories in this way suggests that the audience had to understand the humor. Satire and parody derive meaning from, and make fun of, events and historical contexts as a whole. The joke is funny only if one understands 10 Terry Lindvall, God Mocks:  A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert (New York: New York University Press, 2015), 5–7. 11 Cameron, Dialoguing, 35. 12 Charles A. Knight, “Satire, Speech, and Genre,” Comparative Literature 44 (1992), 31–32. 13 Knight, “Satire, Speech, and Genre,” 31–32.

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the object of ridicule: “The referential function of satire implies an audience sufficiently informed of the context for the message to be comprehended.”14 According to this, there was no point in composing and transmitting these Talmudic texts, with their succinct references to Christian beliefs and satire and parody of their traditions, if there was no one on the receiving end who could understand the Christian references. This brings us one step closer to answering the question: how much Christianity is there in the Babylonian Talmud? If my analyses are correct, we can assume Talmudic awareness of the following, among others: Christian controversy over the nature of the Holy Spirit; the place of Amos 4:13 in this debate; perhaps the different version of the Septuagint for that verse; Jesus’ resurrection after three days; the term euangelion and its meaning as “the good tiding”; the use of this term specifically in reference to Jesus’ return; the use of Psalms 69:22 in the passion narrative; possibly the custom of a three-day fast leading to Easter Sunday; the tradition about Jesus and falling off the roof; the motif of Jesus standing at the door; the “cup of blessing”; the different Septuagint version of Micah 7:4; the use of this verse in Christian polemics against Jews; the use of moth motif in Christian sources; the Christian concept of heavenly treasures; the use of Isaiah 54:1 in Paul and early Christian writings; the Christian concept of the virgin birth; the use of Hosea 5:6 in Christian polemics; the Christian use of the Ḥaliṣah topos in antiJewish polemics; and Christian reliance on Ruth verses for their use of Ḥaliṣah topos. This list is impressive, especially considering the short length of most of the sources. Familiarity with some of these Christian traditions is evident in other Talmudic passages as well – for example, as shown, the Babylonian Talmud knows about the term euangelion in other passages. The list betrays a far wider scope of acquaintance with Christian traditions than first assumed. The nature of these Christian traditions spans biblical exegesis, New Testament passages and contemporary Christian theological debates, among other things. The variety and number of traditions from this small sampling of rabbinic passages enable access to what the authors knew about their Christian neighbors, and how much their intended audience understood. There is therefore much potential in the further study of this type of stories for a better understanding of the relationship between 14

Knight, “Satire, Speech, and Genre,” 36.

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Jews and Christians in late antique Babylonia. These stories can tell us what the composers of the texts knew; that they cared enough to create a story that discusses what they knew; and that they did it in a way that conveys polemical attitudes, while also betraying anxiety stemming from the need to create boundaries between these views and “ours”; and lastly, they tell us there was an audience able to understand the literary mechanism employed in this texts, as well as the Christian references therein. It is important to note that these observations do not convey how many people were able to understand the Christian references in these Talmudic passages. This question has more bearing on the general question of the creation and function of rabbinic text: was it meant for elite rabbinic society or for popular consumption? These minim stories seem to suggest an audience that is familiar, to some degree, with Christian traditions. But we have no way of knowing how many of them there were. Did everyone know? Or few? Are these passages meant to be read like upper class British humor, understood by the educated elite, or was is it similar to a Saturday Night Live skit viewed and understood by most Americans?15 While this question has no clear answer, we may only assume that some people must have had access to this knowledge, for the creation of these passages to make sense. Incidentally, recent studies of modern- day satire show that satire is not only a tool for criticism, but a possible instrument for education. For example, studies have shown that political comedy is as good a source as news for knowledge gain.16 This conclusion brings us back to the original function of literary genre of religious dialogues, meant to correct and reform, as well as to entertain. The rabbinic passages discuss what they considered heretical readings of biblical verses. While they mock and insult, they also supply answers to rebut these claims, and educate their audiences, using literary tools to make the story more accessible, and more entertaining. These texts take part in the bigger process of boundarymaking between Babylonian Talmudic authors and the beliefs of 15 Sam Friedman, Comedy and Distinction: The Cultural Currency of a Good Sense of Humour (New York: Routledge, 2015), 2: “There is no such thing as ‘universally funny.’” See entire chapter titled, “Funny to Whom?” 16 Amy B.  Becker and Leticia Bode, “Satire as a Source for Learning? The Differential Impact of News Versus Satire Exposure on Net Neutrality Knowledge Gain,” Information, Communication and Society 21:4 (2018), 612–625.

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contemporaneous Christian communities. They teach us what the Talmud did not like about the Christian traditions, and what it sought to fight. But it also gives us an important insight into how much they knew about these heretics, and how important they considered them, when composing the stories about them.

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218

219

INDEX OF PRIMARY SOURCES

Hebrew Bible Genesis 1:1, 54–57 1:2, 83 1:26, 56 1:27, 71 2:7, 71 4:1, 56–57 11:30, 124 21:9, 130 21:10, 55–57, 122 38, 166 Exodus 20:12, 44n4 21:12, 44n4 22:15, 119 Leviticus 24:17, 44n4 Numbers 22:15, 133n73 35:23, 94 Deuteronomy 5:16, 44 13:18, 185 21:13, 117 24:1, 117 25:5–6, 166 25:7–10, 170 32:47, 52 33:7, 133n73 33:23, 98 Joshua 5:15, 169 Isaiah 1:11, 175 7:14, 30 19:20, 133n73 20:2, 167, 26:13, 116 30:10, 49 50:9, 150–151 51:8, 151

52:7, 90 54:1, 32, 109–142, 146, 159–160, 191 54:5, 118 61:1, 90 62:4, 112 Hosea 5:6, 191, 165–168, 173–176, 180–181, 186 Amos 4:13, 2, 32, 67–68, 71–81, 86, 97, 101–105, 107, 146, 159, 191 Micah 4:13, 144–145, 160–162 7:4, 32, 144–150, 158–164, 191 Zechariah 2:12, 139 Psalms 10:1, 181–182 69:22, 26, 35, 67, 69, 88–89, 102, 191 69:23, 102 94:9, 71 104:29–30, 75 135:7, 77 Proverbs 24:17, 94 26:4, 1, 63 Ruth 4:2–8, 177–181, 191 Song of Songs 5:2, 93 5:6, 182 Lamentations 4:11, 184 Second Temple Literature Sirach 29:8–13, 157–158 Tobit 4:8–9, 155

219

220

220

Index of Primary Sources

Dead Sea Scrolls 1QH 4:9–10, 50 12:11, 88n89 1QS I 4, 60 Philo of Alexandria On the Cherubim 13.45, 127 On Rewards and Punishments 104, 155 153–161, 114–116, 124 413–415, 115, 124 Megillat Ta‘anit 28 of Adar, 90n94 New Testament Matthew 3:11, 169–170 5:12, 60n55 5:17–20, 43, 59 5:21–26, 43–45, 59 5:21–48, 44n3 5:22, 44, 46n19, 58, 61 5:43, 60 6:16–18, 151 6:19–21, 151–152, 155, 157–158, 162 7:26, 46n19 12:39–40, 91, 92 15:1–7, 48 23:13–15, 138–139 23:17, 46, 46n19, 48 24:33, 93 25:2, 46n19 25:3, 46n19 25:8, 46n19 27:63, 91 Mark 1:7, 169–170 13:29, 93 Luke 2:46–47, 46 3:16, 169–170 12:32–34, 152, 155, 157–158, 162 12:36, 93 13:10–17, 48 John 1:3, 76 1:26–27, 169–170 3:8, 77 19:28–30, 35, 89 Acts 9:23–25, 37 13:25, 169

Romans 4:19, 128 8:4–5, 128 8:13, 128 1 Corinthians 10:14–22, 99 11:23–25, 99 2 Corinthians 11:32–33, 37 Galatians 2:4, 121n28 2:11–14, 96 2:13, 48 3:1, 46n18 3:26–28, 121n28 4:21–31, 121–132, 134, 139–142, 159 4:31, 121n28 5:1, 121n28 5:13, 121n28 Ephesians 5:3–7, 51 1 Timothy 4:1–3, 48 2 Timothy 2:22–26, 50 3:5–9, 51 Hebrews 10:4, 175 Revelation 3:20, 93 Early Christian Literature 2 Clement 2.1–3, 131–132, 135 Epistula Apostolorum 33, 135 Gospel of Thomas 76, 158 James 5:2, 150 Shepherd of Hermas 8.6, 150 Synod of Elvira Canon 50, 96n112 Synod of Laodicea Canon 37, 96n112 Canon 38, 96n112 Rabbinic Literature Mishnah Berakhot 7:5, 97 9:2, 90 ‘Eruvin 4:1, 163

221

Index of Primary Sources Yevamot 6:5, 117 Ketubbot 1:6, 119 3:7, 47n24 Giṭṭin 6:6, 69 Baba Qamma 8:1, 47n24 ‘Avodah Zarah 3:4, 185 5:5, 96 Avot 4:19, 94n108 Nega‘im 14:13, 163 Niddah 4:1, 117 Tosefta Pe’ah 4:18, 155–158 Sanhedrin 13:2, 163 ‘Avodah Zarah 4:6, 96 Horayot 2:5, 163, 184 Ḥullin 2:20–24, 11, 96 Mekhilta Derabbi Ishmael Baḥodesh 5, 62 Sifre Numbers 160, 94 Sifre Zuta Numbers 19:2, 69n18 Sifre Deuteronomy 43, 163, 184 48, 54 265:2, 118 335, 54 Palestinian Talmud Pe’ah 1:1 (15b–d), 53–54 Shevi‘it 1:15 (33b), 53n47 Terumot 8:4 (45c), 70 Shabbat 1:4 (3d), 53n47 6:1 (7d), 106 Sukkah 4:1 (54b), 53n47 Ketubbot 8:8 (32c), 53n47 Baba Qamma 4:3 (4b), 184

221 Sanhedrin 7:11 (25d), 163 ‘Avodah Zarah 1:1 (39b), 97n117 3:1 (42c), 106 Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 8b, 184 10a, 4, 32, 61, 68n12, 109–111, 134–142, 146, 159–160 18b, 153 22a, 62 23a, 69n18 28b, 185, 33b, 156–157 51a, 97 55a, 98 56a, 163 Shabbat 78b, 52 104b, 61, 62n64 116a–b, 33, 90 119a, 163 122a, 106 152b, 163 ‘Eruvin 53b, 60 101a, 4, 27, 32, 61, 68n12, 158–164 Pesaḥim 107a, 97 Sukkah 52b, 61, 68n12 Ta‘anit 7a, 163 20a, 62 Megillah 15b, 102 Ḥagigah 5b, 144, 163 Yevamot 102b, 4, 32, 165–168, 176 Ketubbot 96a, 170 112a, 63 Giṭṭin 56b, 138 56b–57a, 138–139 57a, 62, 160 57b, 69n18 58a, 62, 163, 184 Baba Qamma 50b, 62 60b, 184, 97b, 127n50

222

222

Index of Primary Sources

Baba Meṣiʿa 58b, 47n25 Baba Batra 116a, 58n52 Sanhedrin 22b, 118 39a, 12, 71, 79, 87, 185 43a, 91n100 90b, 163 100a, 62 ‘Avodah Zarah 2a, 60 6b, 25n82, 97 8a–b, 96n115 43b, 34n112 51a, 60 54b, 184 55a, 184 Menaḥot 65b, 58n52 Ḥullin 59b–60a, 163 60a, 163 85b, 60 87a, 3, 187, 4, 12, 23, 25, 25n82, 27, 32, 61, 66–72, 79, 87, 146, 159–160, 190 Bekhorot 8b, 163 Niddah 52b, 60 69b, 163 Genesis Rabbah 1:14, 54–57 13, 163, 184 22:2, 56–57 28, 163 39:11, 127n50 47:2, 127n50 53:15, 55–57 78, 163 Ruth Rabbah 3:2, 163 7:10, 180 Ecclesiastes Rabbah 2:8, 163 Lamentations Rabbah 1:5, 90n94 Midrash Tehillim 10:8, 181–183 Pesikta DeRav Kahana 20:2, 133 20:5, 136 Pesikta Rabbati 5, 30–31, 32

Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 31:2, 127n50 Masekhet Soferim 1:7, 29 Church Fathers Ambrose Epistulae 11.3, 84 Hexameron II.6, 83 On the Christian Faith 30.10.71–74, 178–179 On the Holy Spirit II.6, 78–79 The Patriarchs 4.21–22, 172–173 The Prayer of Job and David 2.5.18, 148 Selected Works and Letters 7.52, 148 Apostolic Canons Canon LXX, 96n112 Athanasius of Alexandria Letters to Serapion 3.4–5, 79 Augustine City of God 18.46, 102 Basil of Caesarea Against Eunomius 3.7, 76–77, 79 Chromatius of Aquileia Tractate on Matthew 11:4, 171–172, 176, 179 Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on the Twelve Prophets Vol. I, p. 126 (ed. Hill), 174 Vol. II, p. 64 (ed. Hill), 77 Vol. II, p. 260 (ed. Hill), 149 Cyril of Jerusalem Oration II.58, 148 Ephrem The Pearl Hymn 7, 150 Eusebius Church History 5.24.12, 92n100 Gregory the Great Forty Gospel Homilies 4, 171, 176, 179 Gregory of Nyssa On the Holy Spirit MPG 45, 1301–1333, 1

223

Index of Primary Sources Jerome Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets I, p. 99–101, 148–149 Commentary on Matthew 3:11, 170–171 Homily on the Exodus 91, 169 Letters 43 (to Augustine), 7n10 John Chrysostom Adversus Iudaeos 1.4–5, 96 Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho 49, 170n15 80, 7n10 First Apology 53.5, 135 Origen Homilies on Jeremiah 1 15.3.2, 148

223 Severus of Antioch Contra Impium Grammaticum 3.2, 85n81 Tertullian Adversus Marcionem 5.4, 135 5.8, 135 On the Incarnation 5, 63 Theodore of Mopsuestia Commentary on the Twelve Prophets Micah 4:7, 150 Greek Literature Herodotus History 5.52–54, 39n142 Pindar Fragment 209 [OxFT = 222 Sch./ M.], 150 Persian Literature Datustan e. Xrat 2.96–97, 156

224

SUBJECT INDEX

R. Abbahu, 20, 109n3 Abraham, 121–123, 125–131 R. Aḥa, 132–133 R. Akiva, 54–56 alms, see wealth, material, and giving Ambrose of Milan, 42, 83, 97, 103, 106, 174 anger, 44–45, 58 Apophthegmata Patrum, 38 Aramaic, 38, 45–46, 180, see also Syriac Arian controversy, see Trinitarian controversies Basil of Caesarea, 42, 76–77, 103 Beruriah, 20, 26, 109, 146, 159, 162 Bible, Hebrew different versions of, 27, 72–74, 80, 83, 86–88, 158–162 parallelism in, 120, 125, 160 See also scripture; Septuagint “blindness,” as an insult, in late antiquity, 46, 48, 50, see also insults Boethusians, 58n51 charity, see wealth, material, and giving chreiai, see Jesus, dialogues of, in the New Testament; New Testament, chreiai in Christianity and Christian literary sources Eastern, 5–6, 38–42 Syriac, 5, 32, 38, 41–42, 81–85 Western, 5–6, 41–42, 80 geographic spread of, 40 race and ethnicity in, 14–15 supersessionism in, see theology, Christian, rejection of Israel See also processions, liturgical; theology, Christian

224

Christology, see theology, Christian, Christology Clement of Alexandria, 9 covenant, in Pauline theology, 121–123 creation, 55–57, 66–68, 71 in Jewish-Christian polemic, 86–88 in Trinitarian controversies, 74–79, 86 and the unity of the creator, 75, 87, 103, 146 See also nature, divine creation and control of cup of blessing, see Grace after meals, and the “cup of blessing” Cyril of Alexandria, 42, 77–78, 80–81, 149–150, 174–176, 184 Dead Sea Scrolls, 45n10, 49–53, 59, 90, see also doreshe ḥalaqot; Qumran sect debate, see dialogue, in ancient literature dialogues, in ancient literature, 188–190, 192 discourse boundary-creating, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 23–24, 27, 37, 78, 94–95, 139, 161, 167, 176, 184, 188–189, 192–193 heresiological, 2, 6, 8, 13–14, 16–17, 24, 64, 190 doreshe ḥalaqot (“seekers of smooth things”), 49–50, see also Pharisees, and doreshe ḥalaqot Easter, 34–35, 91–92, 191 Egeria, 34 R. Eliezer, 61, 119 ethnicity, see Christianity, race and ethnicity in Eucharist, 99–101 exclusion, see discourse, boundarycreating; heresy, and otherness

225

Subject Index fasting, 68–70, 88–89, 91–92, 191 festivals, non-Christian, 34 “fool” as an insult in early Christian literature, 44–48, 50–51, 58–60, 63–64 in rabbinic literature, 4–5, 16, 43, 48, 58, 94–95, 111, 162, 167–168 as a legal category, in rabbinic literature, 60, freedom, see slavery, in Pauline theology R. Gamliel, 70–71, 105, 119, 165–168, 176, 180 gehenna (hell), 110–111, 134, 137–139, 142, 144–145, 160–161 Gnostics, 9, 18 Grace after Meals, and the “cup of blessing,” 96–104, 191 Greco-Roman religions, 18, 185 Hadrian, 163, see also Roman emperor Hagar, 121–124, 128–131, 136 halakhah conflicting interpretations of, 50–58 as a means of binding God to Israel, 184 See also Ḥaliṣah, legal requirements of Ḥaliṣah (drawing of the shoe), 24, 26, 32 legal requirements of, 176–184 as a metaphor for God’s rejection of Israel, 170, 179–184 and the redemption of land, 177, 179 hapax legomenon, 73, 159 Hebrew, 46, 116–120 Biblical, 116, 118–120 interchange of guttural consonants in, 145 Late, 117–120, 125, 128–130 Hegesippus, 9 hell, see gehenna (hell) heresy constructed nature of, 9–10, 16–17 engagement with, in Christian writings, 2, 8–10, 57, 74 and heterodoxy, 17 historical development of, 8–9 and otherness, 13, 17, 188–189, 192–193 as a social category, 10–12 See also discourse, heresiological Herodotus, 40 heterodoxy, see heresy, and heterodoxy

225 Holy Spirit, see theology, Christian, Holy Spirit hypocrisy, 43, 48–50, 138 idolatry, 95, 99–100 insults biblical, 145 in the ancient world, 47, 58, 64, 94, see also “fool,” as an insult in rabbinic law, 47 intercourse, sexual, 110, 112, 116, 117–120, 124–131, 135–136, see also virginity Irenaeus, 9, 92 irony, see minim stories, satire and irony in; satire Isaac, 121–131 as a figure of Christ, 126, 135–136 miraculous/virgin birth of, 125–129 R. Isaac, 70, 97, 104 Ishmael, 121–123, 130 R. Ishmael, 54–56 Israel, Congregation of (keneset yisrael), 137 Jerome, 7, 148–149, 169 Jerusalem, 34, 113–114 in Pauline theology, 121–123, 130 Jesus, 11 as bridegroom of Israel, 170 crucifixion of, 89, 91 dialogues of, in the New Testament, 188, see also New Testament, chreiai in and John the Baptist, 169–179 oral transmission of traditions about, 37 in rabbinic literature, 61, 62, 91, 138–139, 160 suffering of, 89, 102, 160, 191 John the Baptist, 169–179 Josephus, 9 Joshua (biblical), 171, 183 R. Joshua b. R. Ḥananiah, 119, 144–148, 159–164, 184 R. Judah the Prince, 26, 66–70, 87–89, 91–97, 100–106, 159, 162, 184 Justin Martyr, 7, 9 law in early Christian theology, 43–45, 48, 59–60, 121–123, 135, 175–176, 184 See also covenant, in Pauline theology; halakha Letter of Aristeas, 28–29 R. Levi, 132–133, 136

226

226

Subject Index

levirate marriage, 166, 170, 176, see also Ḥaliṣah; marriage literature, rabbinic chronological layers in, 12, 25–26, 52–53, 105, 182 historicity of, 6, 17, 19–25, 37–38, 105, 163, 185n45, 188, 189 and oral traditions, 53, 139 reliability of attributions in, 105 See also orality literature, wisdom, 151 liturgy, Christian, 34 Lord’s Supper, see Eucharist Macedonians, 75, see also Pneumatomachoi; theology, Christian, Holy Spirit; Trinitarian controversies magic, 70n19 R. Mana, 53, 55 maps, 39 Marius Victorinus, 126 marriage, 117–120, 124, see also levirate marriage Mary, 125, 135, see also theology, Christian, virgin birth Masoretic text, 5–6, 27 and the Septuagint, 28–30, 72–74, 86–88, 113, 129–131, 147, 158–162, 173–174, 191 See also Hebrew Bible, different versions of; Septuagint meals between different religious groups, 96, 100–101 Christian, 98–100 in rabbinic literature, 97–98, 101–102 as a social act in late antiquity, 95–96, 100–101 See also Eucharist; Grace after Meals R. Meir, 133, 140 messianism, 73–74, 80, 86 midrash, techniques of, 145 min (pl. minim) definition of, 2–8, 10–14, 16 differing uses of, in Palestinian and Babylonian sources, 19–20 favorable representations of, 97, 100–104, 187 as heretics, 5–8, 10–14, 16 historical development of, 24 and the insult “fool”, see “fool,” as an insult as a specific group in late antiquity, 2–3, 7, 18, 168 in tannaitic literature, 10–11, 12, 19

minim stories, in the Babylonian Talmud audience of, 190–191, 192 chronology of, 6, 12, 19–20 common features of, 3–5, 25, 43, 187–188 conciseness of, 4 as an expression of rabbinic anxiety about enticing Christian views, 23 function of, 17, 176, 188, 192 historicity of, 6, 17, 19–25, 37–38, 105, 163, 185n45, 188, 189–192 as a reflection of internal rabbinic attitudes, 21–23 as a response to Christian writings, 22, 41–42, 86 satire and irony in, 88–93, 105, 164, 187, 190 Minor Prophets, 72, 147 minut, see heresy; min monastic traditions, see Talmud, Babylonian, monastic material in Monbaz, 155–156 Moses, 171–179, 183 moth, as a symbol of destruction, 147, 149–154, 157–162, 191 Naḥote (rabbis who traveled between Israel and Babylonia), 39, Naḥum of Gimzo, 54–56 Nasi, see patriarchs nature, divine creation and control of, 72, 76, 86–87 New Testament, 26 chreiai in, 188 public readings from, 35 and the Q source, 152 rabbinic awareness of, 34–36, 91, 137–138 as a replacement for the Old Testament, 172, 174–176 and the Septuagint, 29 Novatianism, 148 orality, 6, 36–38, 41, 139 secondary, 36–38 and textuality, 36–38 Origen, 9, orthodoxy, 9, 17, 18, 188–189 otherness, see heresy, and otherness Pahlavi, see Persian literature parody, 45, 93, 189–192, see also satire patriarchs, 41, 184 Paul and the ecclesia (Christian community), 137

227

Subject Index and the Gospels, 126 knowledge of Hebrew, 129–130 theology of, 121–131 See also covenant, in Pauline theology; Jerusalem, in Pauline theology; slavery, in Pauline theology persecution, of Jews, in late antiquity, 83 Persian Empire, 22, 33, 40, 184 Persian literature, 156 Peshitta, see Syriac Pharisees, 43, 46, 48–50, 52, 59, 138, 188 and doreshe ḥalaqot (“seekers of smooth things”), 49–50, 57 See also doreshe ḥalaqot Philo of Alexandria, 114–116, 120, 152 philosophy and rabbinic dialogues with philosophers, 181–182, 184 and scholasticism, 40 pilgrimage, 34 Pneumatomachoi, 82, 75, 106, see also Macedonians; theology, Christian, Holy Spirit; Trinitarian controversies polemic, Jewish-Christian, 20–24, 56–57, 60, 62, 94, 107, 148, 161, 191–192 processions, liturgical (πομπαί), 34, 37 Qumran sect, 60, see also Dead Sea Scrolls rabbis Babylonian contacts with the Mesopotamian Christian community, 32–36, 38–42, 191 separation of, from non-rabbinic Jews, 21n70, 192 contact between Palestinian and Babylonian, 38–39 hierarchical relationships among, 170 race, see Christianity, race and ethnicity in representations, heresiological, see heresy, constructed nature of reward, and punishment, 155–157 ritual, as a mode of cultural transmission between Judaism and Christianity, 35, 37, 101, see also New Testament, public readings from; processions, liturgical Roman Emperor, 71–72, 87, 104, 106, 163, 185, see also Hadrian

227 Roman Empire, 60, 184 ease of travel within, 39–40 and Roman imperialism, 11, 18, 22 sabbatical, 114–115 sacrifice, 175–176 Sadducees, 57, 60 Samaritans, 18 Samuel (amora), 153 sandals, in early Christian literature, 169–173 Sanhedrin, 47, 91 Sarah, 121–131, 135–136 satire, 189–192, see also insults; minim stories, satire and irony in scribes, see Pharisees scripture Christian interpretations of, 4–6, 26–27 debates over correct interpretation of, in late antiquity, 48–60, 64, 74–81 false teaching of, 48, see also hypocrisy interpretation of and “emptiness” (req), 51–59, 64, 94 theological implications of, 55–56, 59–60, 74–81, 86 See also Bible, Hebrew sectarianism, Jewish, 11, 19, 49–53, 57, 60, see also Dead Sea Scrolls; Pharisees Septuagint, 5–6 and Jewish-Christian relations, 29–32 origin of, 28–30, 32 rabbinic awareness of, 27, 106, 158–162 variant readings in, 28–31, 72–74, 80, 106, 113 Sermon on the Mount, 5, 43–45, 48, 58–60 R. Simeon b. Gamliel, 69, 184 Sinai, 53, 63, 121 slavery, 170 in Pauline theology, 121123n14 soul, 114–115, 124 spirit, conception by, see theology, Christian, virgin birth Syriac, 5, 32, 38, 41–42, 45, 74, 113, 175, see also Christian sources, Syriac Talmud, Babylonian composition of, 17 importance of external sources to understanding, 104–105, 107, 186

228

228

Subject Index

Talmud, Babylonian (cont.) monastic material in, 107 reworking of earlier material in, 26 as a source for Palestinian historical realities, 20–21, see also literature, rabbinic, historicity of tannaitic material in, 25–26, 105, 139–140 transmission of Christian traditions into, 80–86, 139, 174 Targum Jonathan, 113, 132 Tertullian, 63–64, 74 Temple, destruction of, 132–133, 136 theology, Christian baptism, 175–176 Christology, 27, 57, 85, 169–179, 183 euangelion (good tiding), 90–91, 191 heavenly treasures, 191, 151, 161–162 Holy Spirit, 106, 25, 26, 27, 74–88, 97, 102–103, 191 incarnation, 78–79, 178 logos, 57 rejection of Israel, 27, 148–150, 159–160, 170 resurrection, 26, 92, 191 sin, 44 virgin birth, 26, 30, 57, 135–136, 191 See also law, in early Christian theology; Paul, theology of

theophany, 72 translation, 28–32, 41 attitudes of the rabbis toward, 29–32, 158–162 of Christian sources, 38, 72–74, 81–85 theological implications of, 73–74 See also Septuagint transmission, see orality; Talmud, Babylonian, transmission of Christian traditions into Trinitarian controversies, 106, 75–79, 82–83, see also Macedonians; Pneumatomachoi; theology, Christian, Holy Spirit virginity, 115–116, 119–120, 135 “fruitful,” 124 wealth, material criticism of, 151–154 and giving, 155 and heavenly treasures, 151, 161–162 yibbum, see marriage, levirate R. Yoḥanan, 157, 62 R. Yoḥanan b. Zakkai, 57–58 R. Zera, 63 Zoroastrianism, 20