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Crossing Enemy Lines: Network Connections Between Palestinian and Babylonian Sages in Late Antiquity

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The Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds transmit stories about sages who crossed the boundaries between the Roman and Persian empires in late antiquity to sojourn in the “enemy” territory for a certain amount of time. These sages, who were members of local rabbinic networks, established inter-regional network connections among Palestinian and Babylonian scholars which reached across political boundaries. This paper will investigate how these connections were established and maintained. What was the role of place and mobility in an intellectual network “without propinquity”?1 Which segments of the respective local rabbinic networks maintained inter-regional contacts? Or more specifically: which sages are presented as the main nodal points within these networks and what were their roles within Palestinian and Babylonian Jewish society? How did network centrality and power shift from Palestine to Babylonia between the fourth and sixth centuries c.e.?

Affiliations: 1: Department of the Study of Religions, SOAS, University of LondonThornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London wc1h


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