Performing Israel's Faith: Narrative and Law in Rabbinic Theology

By Jacob Neusner | Go to book overview

Notes

1 Maren Niehoff, Philo on Jewish Identity and Culture (vol. 86 of Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism; ed. Martin Hengel and Peter Schaefer. Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001).

2 In Chapter 2, I translate as “idolater” all references to “gentiles,” since that is the intent throughout.

3 The advent of a tertium quid—not Israelite, not idolate—would pose a considerable problem for the Rabbinic theologians, both exegetes and lawyers. The Tosefta’s famous passage represents the first documentary articulation of the problem presented by Christianity to the Rabbinic paradigm of the nations = idolaters. The issue is how on the Sabbath day one deals with saving from a fire the holy books belonging to minim, here clearly meaning, Christians, whose writings will include the Holy Name of God. Tarfon’s statement, T. Shab. 13:5Dff., shows the unresolved dilemma presented by gentiles who were not idolaters, and who, in the very centuries of the writing down of the Mishnah and the Tosefta, were martyred for their faith in the one, unique God made known in the Torah.

T. 13:5 A.The books of the Evangelists and the books of the minim they do not save from a fire. But they are allowed to burn where they are,
B.they and the references to the Divine Name which are in them.
C.R. Yosé the Galilean says, “On ordinary days, one cuts out the references to the Divine Name which are in them and stores them away, and the rest burns.”
D.Said R. Tarfon, “May I bury my sons, if such things come into my hands and I do not burn them, and even the references to the Divine Name which are in them.
E.“And if someone was running after me, I should go into a temple of idolatry, but I should not go into their houses [of worship].

-213-

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