[On the Problem of Method in the Study of Rabbinic Literature]: A Reply

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  • [On the Problem of Method in the Study of Rabbinic Literature]: A ReplyAuthor(s): Ben Zion WacholderSource: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 114-115Published by: The Society of Biblical LiteratureStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3262760 .Accessed: 22/12/2014 19:41

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  • 114 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITBTURE

    A REPLY

    I am grateful for Professor Smith's comments which afford me an opportunity to clarify a number of points that evidently were either taken for granted or compressed in my review.

    Smith says that, contrary to my assertion, Neusner did point out that "different datings were advocated by different scholars," including a lengthy note to my views. My assertion is correct; Smith's is wrong. The only dating differing with Epstein's to which Neusner refers is to mine- and this in a note on an article ("The Date of the Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael," HUCA 39 [1968] 117-44), the conclusion of which could hardly have been taken into consideration one way or another in the main body of Neusner's book.

    The preceding point is minor. What Smith labors to conceal is that Neusner's metho- dology in ordering the material chronologically and his general discussion reflect an un- awareness of the scholarship on the subject. Nothing that Smith mentions on this issue is to the point. He argues that the book's ordering of the material is "purely provisional." But when the "purely provisional" leads to conclusions which are "purely provisional," the argument seems to be something of a petitio principii.

    Smith conveys the impression that I was grinding my own scholarly axe in my criticism of Neusner's book. My objection was rather that Neusner did not follow Epstein, who for him seems to be the sole arbiter of scholarly opinion. Smith further defends Neusner's dating of the halakic midrashim prior to the Mishnah and Tosephta, a presumption which leads Neusner to conclude, for example: "It is clear that the earliest Yohanan-tradition was composed of exegetical material" (p. 273). My reading of Epstein's Introduction to Tan- nogitic Literogture (Jerusalem: Magnes; Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1957), however, is that Epstein takes it for granted that the Mishnah, in general, and the Mishnah's material on Yoh. anan ben 2;akkai, in particular, preserve the most ancient Tannaitic material available, material much older than what is found in the exegetical collections known as Methiltv of Roghbi Ishmogel and MeAhiltog of Roghbi Simeon ben Yohogi (passim, esp. pp. 41, 43).

    Let me quote from Epstein's verdict concerning the Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon (in his Introduction, p. 738; repeated in his edition of the MeAhilta tJerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 1955], p. xxv, in Hebrew): "The Mekhilta of R. Simeon b. Yohai belongs to the latest of all [works] of the school of R. Akiba; and tits author] made extensive use of the Siphra, Siphre, and Tosephta, quoting verbatim.... All this suggests lateness." Benjamin de Vries (Sinvs 51 [1962] 290-94) agrees with Epstein that this Mekhilta is a late work, to the extent that he takes care not to label it "Tannaitic." E. 2;. Melamed, Epstein's disciple and the editor of his master's Introdgstion, in an exhaustive study of his own, concludes that the earliest compilation of the halakic midrashim (he too avoids labeling them "Tannaitic") took place two generations after Rabbi Judah Hanasi, long after the Mishnah and the Tosephta had become authoritative rabbinic works (The ReStionship betfseen the HoSkhc Midrogshitn ognd! the Mishnog ognd! Tosefto: The Use of Mishnog ognd Toseftv ir the Ho>kbic Midrogshim tSeresalem: Privately published, 19677 p. 181). M. D. Herr's article, "Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael," in the recently published Encyclopogediog Judvicog (Jerusalem: Keter, 1971) 11. 1269, offers as the consensus of informed opinion that this Mekhilta was "com- piled . . . not earlier than the fourth century C.E." Now it may be that the opinions quoted above are wrong and that Professors Neusner and Smith are right, but the claim that their

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  • 115 115 WACHOLDER: A REPLY WACHOLDER: A REPLY

    dating of the halakic midrashim represents current scholarly consensus whereas mine re- flects an isolated and idiosyncratic view is wide of the mark.

    To the charge that my review fails to recognize the problems that Neusner attacked and tO appreciate Neusner's "novel" method of using synoptic and form-critical techniques in analyting rabbinic material, I can only say that the library is full of studies by Abraham Weiss, E. Z. Melamed, Benjamin de Vries, and David Halivni, among others, that utilize in rabbinic studies the very criteria which to Smith appear revolutionary. That these and similar books were not written in English or that their methodology was not yet labeled "synoptic" or "form-critical" does not establish Neusner's methodology as particularly new in rabbinics. Nor is criticism of the way in which a methodology is employed to be equated with ignorance or repudiation of that method; the book's use or misuse of synoptic and form-critical methodology remains the issue.

    Professor Smith's concern for a methodology in rabbinics sound enough to provide NT scholars with a firm basis for using that material is readily understandable. But his ad- vocacy of a particular method as presaging a new era of rabbinic scholarship by virtue of its employing parallel columns and statistical tables (no matter how unreliable and urldigested the material) only serves to underline the "chaotic conditions" I noted in my review.1

    BEN ZION WACHOLDER

    HEBREW UNION COLLEGE- JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION, CINaNNATI, OHIO 45220

    1 This terminates the discussion of this matter. - EDITOR.

    MATTHEW 12:40 AND THE SYNOPIIC SOURCE QUESTION

    In the September 1972 issue of this Jogrnogl the article by Professors Talbert and Mc- Knight, "Can the Griesbach Hypothesis BP Falsified," contains a treatment of Matt 12:40 as an exemplar verse showing the secondary character of Matthew.1 This verse has long been suspect in the text of Matthew. In rhe School of St. Matthew, Krister Stendahl marshalled the evidence against the verse as belonging to the original Matthean text.2 The verse is suspect for the following reasons: (1) the text form of the citation from Jonah is pure LXX, which occurs rarely in Matthew; (2) vs. 40 interrupts the flow of thought from vs. 39 to 41; and (3) Matt 12:40 is lacking in Justin Martyr's citation of the passage in Dioglogge with Trypho 107.2, and the surrounding context suggests strongly that the verse was not in Justin's text of Matthew. Although these problems may not prove that 12:40 was not a part of the original text of Matthew, they raise serious enough questions that the verse should not serve as an exemplar verse for any synoptic source theory.

    LAMAR COPE

    CARROLL COLLEGE, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN 53186

    1JBL 91 (1972) 338-68, esp. pp. 361-63. a (Lund: Gleerup, 1954; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) 132-33.

    dating of the halakic midrashim represents current scholarly consensus whereas mine re- flects an isolated and idiosyncratic view is wide of the mark.

    To the charge that my review fails to recognize the problems that Neusner attacked and tO appreciate Neusner's "novel" method of using synoptic and form-critical techniques in analyting rabbinic material, I can only say that the library is full of studies by Abraham Weiss, E. Z. Melamed, Benjamin de Vries, and David Halivni, among others, that utilize in rabbinic studies the very criteria which to Smith appear revolutionary. That these and similar books were not written in English or that their methodology was not yet labeled "synoptic" or "form-critical" does not establish Neusner's methodology as particularly new in rabbinics. Nor is criticism of the way in which a methodology is employed to be equated with ignorance or repudiation of that method; the book's use or misuse of synoptic and form-critical methodology remains the issue.

    Professor Smith's concern for a methodology in rabbinics sound enough to provide NT scholars with a firm basis for using that material is readily understandable. But his ad- vocacy of a particular method as presaging a new era of rabbinic scholarship by virtue of its employing parallel columns and statistical tables (no matter how unreliable and urldigested the material) only serves to underline the "chaotic conditions" I noted in my review.1

    BEN ZION WACHOLDER

    HEBREW UNION COLLEGE- JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION, CINaNNATI, OHIO 45220

    1 This terminates the discussion of this matter. - EDITOR.

    MATTHEW 12:40 AND THE SYNOPIIC SOURCE QUESTION

    In the September 1972 issue of this Jogrnogl the article by Professors Talbert and Mc- Knight, "Can the Griesbach Hypothesis BP Falsified," contains a treatment of Matt 12:40 as an exemplar verse showing the secondary character of Matthew.1 This verse has long been suspect in the text of Matthew. In rhe School of St. Matthew, Krister Stendahl marshalled the evidence against the verse as belonging to the original Matthean text.2 The verse is suspect for the following reasons: (1) the text form of the citation from Jonah is pure LXX, which occurs rarely in Matthew; (2) vs. 40 interrupts the flow of thought from vs. 39 to 41; and (3) Matt 12:40 is lacking in Justin Martyr's citation of the passage in Dioglogge with Trypho 107.2, and the surrounding context suggests strongly that the verse was not in Justin's text of Matthew. Although these problems may not prove that 12:40 was not a part of the original text of Matthew, they raise serious enough questions that the verse should not serve as an exemplar verse for any synoptic source theory.

    LAMAR COPE

    CARROLL COLLEGE, WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN 53186

    1JBL 91 (1972) 338-68, esp. pp. 361-63. a (Lund: Gleerup, 1954; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) 132-33.

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    Article Contentsp. 114p. 115

    Issue Table of ContentsJournal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 1-164Front Matter [pp. 1-2]Moses in Midian [pp. 3-10]The Fiscal Basis of Josiah's Reforms [pp. 11-22]David's Victory over the Philistine as Saga and as Legend [pp. 23-36]Zechariah 9 and the Recapitulation of an Ancient Ritual Pattern [pp. 37-59]"The Secret of the Kingdom of God" (Mark 4:11) [pp. 60-74]Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1 [pp. 75-87]2 Cor 6:14-7:1: An Anti-Pauline Fragment? [pp. 88-108]Critical NotesSome Dissenting Notes on 7Q5 = Mark 6:52-53 [pp. 109-112]On the Problem of Method in the Study of Rabbinic Literature [pp. 112-113][On the Problem of Method in the Study of Rabbinic Literature]: A Reply [pp. 114-115]Matthew 12:40 and the Synoptic Source Question [p. 115]

    Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 116-117]Review: untitled [pp. 118-119]Review: untitled [pp. 119-120+122]Review: untitled [pp. 123-124]Review: untitled [pp. 124-125]Review: untitled [pp. 125-126+128]Review: untitled [pp. 128-130]Review: untitled [pp. 130-132]Review: untitled [pp. 132+134]Review: untitled [pp. 134-136]Review: untitled [pp. 136-137]Review: untitled [pp. 138-140]Review: untitled [pp. 140-141]Review: untitled [pp. 141-142]Review: untitled [pp. 142-144]Review: untitled [pp. 144+146]Review: untitled [pp. 146-147]Review: untitled [pp. 147-148]Review: untitled [pp. 149-150]Review: untitled [pp. 150+152-153]Review: untitled [p. 153]Review: untitled [pp. 154-155]Review: untitled [p. 155]Review: untitled [pp. 155-156+158]Review: untitled [pp. 158-159]

    Books Received [pp. 160-164]Back Matter [pp. 121-157]

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