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Migrating Tales: The Talmud’s Narratives and Their Historical Context


May 19, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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Bldg. 360, CCSRE Conference Room

Colloquium with Richard Kalmin (Jewish Theological Seminary). Sponsored by the Taube Center for  Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Classics.

Migrating Tales situates the Babylonian Talmud in its cultural context by reading several rich rabbinic stories against the background of Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, and Mesopotamian literature of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, much of it Christian in origin. In this nuanced work, Richard Kalmin argues that non-Jewish literature deriving from the eastern Roman provinces is a crucially important key to interpreting Babylonian rabbinic literature, to a degree unimagined by earlier scholars. Kalmin demonstrates the extent to which rabbinic Babylonia was part of the Mediterranean world of late antiquity and part of the emerging but never fully realized cultural unity forming during this period in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and western Persia.

Richard Kalmin is the Theodore R. Racoosin Professor of Rabbinic Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on the interpretation of rabbinic stories, ancient Jewish history, and the development of rabbinic literature. He has been a visiting professor at Hebrew Union College, Union Theological Seminary, and Yale University, and a faculty fellow at the University of Michigan and the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University.