Guarding Oral Transmission: Within and Between Cultures


A 1997 claim that “Muslim hostility to the writing of tradition” was of “Jewish origin” stimulated this article's attempt to de-essentialize the notion of “Jewish oralism.” It reconstructs the vastly disparate concerns and historical circumstances that prompted Jews of third-century Palestine on the one hand, and of eighth- and ninth-century Baghdad on the other, to champion and guard the oral transmission of certain corpora of rabbinic tradition. The article concludes by considering a Babylonian-Palestinian Jewish dispute of the geonic era against the backdrop of Abbasid-Umayyad tensions.



Orality & Literacy VII
Talya Fishman.

Video: Eugene Botha Productions.

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