Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking

By Michael Fishbane | Go to book overview
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The Term kivyakhol and its Uses

This appendix 1 on the term kivyakhol (⩵ kibyakhol) 2 draws upon my collection over many years of the available examples to be found in classical and related rabbinic sources: in published and critical editions; in published and manuscript variants; published and manuscript fragments from the Cairo Geniza and other library resources; and in data-base files in electronic form and data collected for historical research, such as the word files of the Israel Academy of Language. Several photocopies of unpublished manuscript fragments were made available to me through the courtesy of Prof. M. Bregman.

I have utilized all this material (as pertinent) in the categorization, analysis, and evaluation of ancient rabbinic and early medieval texts in which the term kivyakhol occurs. Almost universally, the term is found in the context of theological and homiletical teachings, and evincing a strong anthropomorphic and anthropopathic character in the framework of midrashic exegesis found in the great midrashic and Talmudic compendia (or extracts derived therefrom). Several examples are found in old legal sources (like the Mishnah and Tosefta), but the issues remain of a theological or homiletical sort and are exegetical in character. The organization and interpretation of the data is intended to bring some conceptual and thematic clarity to a sea of citations, and to elucidate opaque or otherwise elusive examples. Overall, this material supplements the examples of rabbinic mythic theology discussed in Part II. Hence, cases considered at length in the body of this book are only treated to brief annotations in this appendix. On the other hand, topics and texts that either extend or elaborate the categories and themes taken up earlier, are dealt with more fully here. In all instances, close attention has been given to the placement and apparent function(s) of the term kivyakhol. Considerable attention will be given to the techniques and character of the exegetical theology involved.

Because of inconsistencies in parallel versions, and the ongoing impact of scribal practices and pieties into the Middle Ages (long after the primary production of the exegeses themselves), it is not always possible to determine the authentic exempla of the term kivyakhol or estimate the precise stratification of the evidence. Hence, I have attempted to register all pertinent variations, and to highlight the function(s) of the term in the context of the hermeneutical and literary aspects of the passages. Similarly, the various difficulties and ambiguities involved in evaluating these midrashic teachings have been acknowledged and spelled out, to the extent that this is feasible or instructive. Thus I have sought to make the complexity of analysis and evalution as transparent as possible. Nevertheless, a number of practical determinations had to be made. For example, there are a large number of examples in the late midrashic collections (like Midrash Tanḥuma, Midrash Shoḥer Ṭov, and Aggadat Bereishit),


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Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking


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