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Descriptive Or Prescriptive: The Case Of The Gentile In Mishnah

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the concept of the Gentile as perceived by the editors of Mishnah. A document redacted as one coherent literary whole in approximately 200 CE, the Mishnah was a literary compilation consisting of generations of rabbinic statements and laws recorded separately by individual Rabbis, transmitted orally or written down by the scribes. Though the Mishnah was completed only slightly more than a century after the destruction of the Temple, its symbolism, rituals and the period of history it represented served as the core, crux and focus of longing of the exiled and enslaved Jews. The discussion of the gentile in Mishnah serves to refine or to illustrate points of rabbinic law. The laws of Mishnah set parameters or borders for permitted Jewish activities with the gentile that also serve to separate and distinguish the Jew from "others" with whom they might come into contact.

Keywords: Jewish-gentile; Mishnah; Rabbinic law

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