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Who are the kings of east and west in Ber 7a?: Roman religion, syrian gods and zoroastrianism in the babylonian Talmud

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Chapter Summary

The subject of this chapter is a baraita, attributed to R. Meir, which has been incorporated within a large, highly structured sugya on the subject of divine anger. The sugya itself appears in various permutations in several places, Ber 7A, A.Z. 4a–b, and Sanh 65a–b, with various additions and deletions. It concentrates on one element of the whole, which appears only in Berakhot. The sugya there is the most cohesive of the three, and probably the earliest, but that does not aid us in dating the baraita, or even determining its provenance. The baraita, which appears only in the Babylonian Talmud and not at all in Palestinian sources, may reflect a Babylonian venue and Sitz im Leben. Evidence for Zoroastrian worship accounts for nearly all the essential elements discussed in the chapter, and may account for the attribution to ‘the kings of East and West’ as well.

Keywords: Babylonian Talmud; baraita; divine anger; kings of East and West; Roman religion; Sitz im Leben; sugya; Syrian Gods; Zoroastrian worship



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