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Michael Berger. Rabbinic Authority. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. xii, 226 pp.

  • Jeffrey L. Rubenstein (a1)

Understanding the authority of “the rabbis,” the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud who lived during the first five centuries of the common era, has always been a tricky business. The sages grounded their authority on the concept of the dual Torah—the belief that God revealed to Moses, in addition to the written Torah, an oral Torah, which was passed down in an unbroken chain from generation to generation. However, the emergence of Jewish historical consciousness during the Enlightenment rendered this view difficult to maintain. The rise of critical biblical studies revealed a gap between the religion of the Bible and Rabbinic Judaism. On what basis, then, are the pronouncements of the talmudic sages authoritative for subsequent generations of Jews?

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AJS Review
  • ISSN: 0364-0094
  • EISSN: 1475-4541
  • URL: /core/journals/ajs-review
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