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The canonical documents of Rabbinic Judaism impose upon most of their components fixed patterns of rhetoric, recurrent logic of coherent discourse, and a well-defined topic or program, for example, a commentary on a biblical book or on a legal topic. But some few compositions and composites of the Rabbinic canon of late antiquity diverge from the formal norms of the compilations in which they occur. In these pages, Neusner assembles anomalous compositions that occur in the Mishnah, Tosefta, four Tannaite Midrashim, and Genesis Rabbah, and he further tests the uniformity of the forms that govern in a familiar chapter of the Bavli. Neusner's surveys show for the documents probed here that some small segment of the composites and compositions of the surveyed documents does not conform to the indicative rules of rhetoric, topic, and logic. Consequently, we face the challenge of constructing models of lost documents of the Rabbinic canon, conforming to the models governing anomalous compositions. These follow other topical and rhetorical norms and therefore belong in other, different types of documents from those in which they now are located. These anomalous writings in topic, logic, or rhetoric (or all three) in theory reveal indicative characteristics other than the ones defining the compositions and composites of the documents in which they are now located.
About the Author
The real measure of Jacob Neusner's contribution to the study of religion emerges from the originality, excellence, and scope of his learning. He founded a field of scholarship: the academic study of Judaism. He built out of that field to influence a larger subject: the academic study of religion. He created durable networks and pathways of interreligious communication and understanding. And he cared for the careers of others. Ever generous with his intellectual gifts, Neusner is one of America's greatest humanists. In all aspects of his career, he exemplifies the meaning of American learning. In all he has done, Jacob Neusner fulfills the distinctive promise of the academic study of religion in an open and pluralistic society that values religion as a fundamental expression of freedom. -from the Encyclopaedia Judaica, second edition