Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Law and Temporality in Bavli Mo'ed
by Kaye, Lynn, Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 351; 3546506
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines different forms of time as they appear in the legal and narrative passages of the Babylonian Talmud, focusing mainly on later passages from the third to the sixth centuries. Its method is historical as well as phenomenological. Through critical analysis of Talmudic texts I uncover concepts of time that are present but not articulated directly. This is achieved by extrapolating rabbinic attitudes to temporality through an examination of relevant legal principles and debates as well as of temporal themes in narratives. The project encompasses both legal discussions and stories in the Babylonian Talmud, since the two genres taken together provide a superior appreciation of rabbinic conceptions of time.

The dissertation's argument is threefold. First, the notion that the rabbis conceive of time only in so far as it is connected with observable processes but not as an abstract category must be modified. Temporality is a complex issue addressed by the rabbis, albeit indirectly, especially in the later layers of the Babylonian Talmud. Second, the rabbis do not have a single conception of time, but multiple conceptions. They draw on different conceptions in different contexts, a flexibility that allows for the smooth application of law to “hard cases.” Finally, the flexible and manifold conception of time provides an avenue for the rabbis to overcome issues such as indeterminacy of legal facts, and a means through which to further their didactic aims in aggadot.

The dissertation is organized thematically, grouping together legal principles and narratives that address similar temporal themes. The primary topics of the four main chapters are: (1) estimation of time of day and human accuracy, (2) simultaneity, (3) fixedness and the sanctification of times and (4) retroactivity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rubenstein, Jeffrey L.
Commitee: Fleming, Daniel E., Gottlieb, Michah, Schiffman, Lawrence H., Wolfson, Elliot R.
School: New York University
Department: Hebrew and Judaic Studies
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Law, Philosophy, Judaic studies
Keywords: Aggada, Bavli, Halakha, Law, Mo'ed, Rabbinic, Temporality, Time
Publication Number: 3546506
ISBN: 9781267801012
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