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B. Sanhedrin 100b and rabbinic knowledge of Ben Sira

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Chapter Summary

Several years ago Professor Maurice Gilbert wrote a programmatic article on Ben Sira in a collection of essays entitled Jewish Civilization in the Hellenistic-Roman Period. In this essay, Gilbert posed two questions about the rabbinic citations of the book of Ben Sira. In an effort to begin to answer Gilbert's queries this chapter looks in this essay at one important rabbinic text, B. Sanhedrin 100b, which contains both an extended discussion of the acceptability of reading Ben Sira and a number of "quotations" from the book. Both Segal's and Lehmann's solutions, as outlined in the essay by Gilbert, begin with the book's non-canonical status as the basis for explanation. Both Segal and Lehmann develop their understandings of the rabbinic quotations of Ben Sira from slightly different appeals to a nexus of three notions: its unauthorized status, citations from memory, and less-than-careful textual transmission.

Keywords: Ben Sira; Jewish Civilization in the Hellenistic-Roman Period; Lehmann; Professor Maurice Gilbert; Rabbinic Knowledge; Sanhedrin 100b; Segal



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