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Introduction To The Etiological Narratives In Pre

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the relationship between etiological narratives-stories that come to explain how things came to be the way they are-and legal practices, or customs, found in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE). These etiological narratives oscillate almost seamlessly between two time zones: the precedent setting time of the Bible and the contemporary time of the narrative's composition, often highlighted by specific discourse markers. The chapter also explores how the Narrative Midrash genre influences how custom and legal precept is construed. While our analysis of the etiological narratives in PRE will draw on a qualified version of Eliade's definition of myth, the chapter focuses on their symbolic dimension. It examines this symbolic function, the bond between the Jewish people and what they consider sacred, through a study of three examples of etiological narratives in PRE, all of them quite different in terms of their biblical context, contemporary significance, and purpose or polemic.

Keywords: etiological narratives; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE)



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