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The External Tractates

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Chapter Summary

From the Amoraic period onwards, there is evidence that numerous tractates of tradition literature circulated independently of the recognized literary units. Avat de-R. Natan is purely aggadic, while most of the smaller tracts, e.g. Sefer Tara, Mezuza etc., are purely halakhic. Avot de-R. Natan is extant in two distinctly different versions. Version A is the traditional version of the tractate.Version B seems to have had a most limited circulation. The tractates bearing the title derekh erets deal primarily with the ethics and morals which prevent a person from indulging in sin, as well as with the rules of etiquette and polite behaviour. The tractates bearing the name Kalla, whose simple translation is 'A Bride', ostensibly deal with marriage and sex laws. During the Middle Ages, it was customary to group the smallest of the minor tractates together in a literary formation known as sheva massekhtat ketanat (The Seven Minor Tracts).

Keywords: Avat de-R. Natan; external tractates; Seven Minor Tracts; tractate derekh erets; tractates Kalla

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