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Talmudic Stories

Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture

How should we understand the stories of the Babylonian Talmud? Where do they come from? Why are they in the Talmud? How do they relate to Talmudic law? In Talmudic Stories, Jeffrey Rubenstein deepens our appreciation for the complexity of these texts by drawing attention to the literary aspects and cultural contexts that are essential to understanding their narrative art, meanings, and importance. Focusing on six famous stories of the Babylonian Talmud and discussing many others in relation to these, Rubenstein's analysis illuminates the ways in which the rabbis used narratives to grapple with fundamental tensions of their culture. The book also features an appendix including the original Hebrew/Aramaic texts for the reader's reference.

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein is an associate professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is the author of The History of Sukkot in the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods; Rabbinic Stories; and the forthcoming The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud, which will also be published by Johns Hopkins.


"This book offers the best set of literary readings of Talmudic materials in English, and the best English introduction to the issues such readings entail, that this reviewer has seen."

- Choice

"This book goes well beyond the explanation of difficult Talmudic stories. It presents, indeed, an entirely innovative theory. Rubenstein's argument is not only important, but also, I think, persuasive. This book should not be allowed to go unnoticed: in a well-trodden field like Talmudic studies one rarely gets the feeling that a major breakthrough has been achieved."

- Sacha Stern - Journal of Jewish Studies

"Rubenstein has produced a fascinating volume... Anyone who reads this book will find important new insights."

- Gary G. Porton - Shofar

"This is a mature work, in which the author invested much labor and thought. The thoroughness, methodical diversity, and scholarly discretion can serve as a model of the demanding standards that are to be expected from serious research into rabbinic literature."

- Eliezer Segal - Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"It analyzes several notable rabbinic stories in a fresh and detailed manner."

- Carol Bakhos - Journal of Biblical Literature

"A distinctive and nuanced analysis of six narratives from the Babylonian Talmud... I would recommend this excellent book to Rubenstein's intended audience as well as anyone who is interested in the literary analysis of religious narratives... Rubenstein's analyses are careful and thorough, and he argues his points well. In addition, Talmudic Stories opens up a host of new challenges."

- Jonathan Schofer - Hebrew Studies

" This work establishes Rubenstein as the leading scholar of narrative in the Babylonian Talmud."

- Marc Bregman - Religious Studies Review


"Jeffrey Rubenstein's studies of some of the most well-known Talmudic stories are entirely fresh in approach and shed much new light on the literary methods by which the anonymous editors of the Talmud constructed their own work on the basis of inherited traditions and in light of their own theological concerns. He approaches any given tale from a number of overlapping and mutually informing perspectives that provide a richly layered interpretive web."

- Martin S. Jaffee, University of Washington
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801861468 : talmudic-stories-rubenstein
456 Pages
$74.00 USD
9780801877544 : talmudic-stories-rubenstein
Paperback / softback
456 Pages
$40.00 USD

Other Titles by Jeffrey L. Rubenstein

Stories of the Babylonian Talmud

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein
Jun 2010 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$58.00 USD - Hardback

The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud

Jeffrey L. Rubenstein
Aug 2005 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$25.00 USD - Electronic book text
$25.00 USD - Paperback / softback

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