Session Title

Commentaries as Conduits: Christian, Islamic, and Sectarian Influences in Medieval Jewish Exegesis

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Ilana Sasson

Organizer Affiliation

Tel Aviv Univ.

Presider Name

Frans van Liere

Presider Affiliation

Calvin College

Paper Title 1

On Creation, Wisdom, and Angelology: A Medieval Commentary on Proverbs 8

Presenter 1 Name

Ilana Sasson

Paper Title 2

David ben Joshua Maimuni's Commentary on the Liturgy: From Prayer to Contemplation

Presenter 2 Name

Arnold E. Franklin

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Queens College, CUNY

Paper Title 3

Sifting Winds: Orality and Textuality in Rashi's Torah Commentary

Presenter 3 Name

Yedida Eisenstat

Presenter 3 Affiliation

York Univ.

Paper Title 4

Tistayem as Commentary: The Changed Form of Study in the Late Talmudic Period

Presenter 4 Name

Noah Bickart

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Start Date

14-5-2015 3:30 PM

Session Location

Valley I Hadley 101

Description

The explication of a classical text by means of a commentary represents one of the most basic and widespread forms of medieval Jewish literary and intellectual activity. A commentary reveals, at one and the same time, a recognition of a text’s authoritative status as well as an assertion of its writer’s independence from it. Through the seemingly self-effacing act of subordinating himself to the words of another, the commentator in effect arrogates for himself the right to present his own interpretations as the intended meaning(s) of the author of the text on which he comments, imposing on that work new and sometimes foreign ideas. Often, the impetus for such an effort is the need to reinterpret a text according to novel modes of thought; a commentary is, in this sense, a conduit or an intermediary, facilitating connections between the past and the present and bridging divergent world views.

Drawing on the inherently dialogical dimension of such literary enterprises, the proposed panel invites papers that explore the way medieval Jewish commentaries served as religious and cultural intermediaries. Specifically, it seeks papers that illustrate the use of the commentary genre as a means of embracing and/or grappling with Jewish presence in Christian, Islamic and sectarian settings. The panel is open to analyses of commentaries of all sorts, including, but not limited to, works on biblical, rabbinic, philosophical, and mystical texts. Topics might include direct borrowing from Christian, Islamic or sectarian sources; the impact of intellectual and spiritual movements on the form and content of a commentary; or the use of the commentary method to address sectarian positions.

Ilana Sasson

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May 14th, 3:30 PM

Commentaries as Conduits: Christian, Islamic, and Sectarian Influences in Medieval Jewish Exegesis

Valley I Hadley 101

The explication of a classical text by means of a commentary represents one of the most basic and widespread forms of medieval Jewish literary and intellectual activity. A commentary reveals, at one and the same time, a recognition of a text’s authoritative status as well as an assertion of its writer’s independence from it. Through the seemingly self-effacing act of subordinating himself to the words of another, the commentator in effect arrogates for himself the right to present his own interpretations as the intended meaning(s) of the author of the text on which he comments, imposing on that work new and sometimes foreign ideas. Often, the impetus for such an effort is the need to reinterpret a text according to novel modes of thought; a commentary is, in this sense, a conduit or an intermediary, facilitating connections between the past and the present and bridging divergent world views.

Drawing on the inherently dialogical dimension of such literary enterprises, the proposed panel invites papers that explore the way medieval Jewish commentaries served as religious and cultural intermediaries. Specifically, it seeks papers that illustrate the use of the commentary genre as a means of embracing and/or grappling with Jewish presence in Christian, Islamic and sectarian settings. The panel is open to analyses of commentaries of all sorts, including, but not limited to, works on biblical, rabbinic, philosophical, and mystical texts. Topics might include direct borrowing from Christian, Islamic or sectarian sources; the impact of intellectual and spiritual movements on the form and content of a commentary; or the use of the commentary method to address sectarian positions.

Ilana Sasson