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Did Rabbinic Culture Conceive of the Category of Folk Narrative?

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The article addresses the question whether the late Antique Rabbinic texts disclose an awareness of the categories of folklore and folktale. Initially, the parallel and varied emergence of these categories in various intellectual traditions of modernity and post-modernity is presented with special reference to a new conceptual framework correlating the categories of magic, miracle and sorcery. Subsequently, the narrative traditions recounting the tales of Hanina ben Dosa and especially the chain of tales from the third chapter of the Babylonian Talmud tractate Ta'anit are presented and analyzed referring to earlier scholarship, manuscript variations and the conceptual framework of folk narratives and folklore. By analytically pointing out formal as well as contextual elements, a meta-folkloric awareness of the rabbis is argued.


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