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Through the Prism of Wisdom


Elijah the Prophet as a Bearer of Wisdom in Rabbinic Literature


This monograph explores the nature of the Elijah traditions in rabbinic literature and their connection to the wisdom tradition. By examining the diverse Elijah traditions in connection to the wisdom and apocalyptic traditions, Alouf-Aboody sheds new light on the manner in which Elijah’s role developed in rabbinic literature.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0742-7
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Publication Status: In Print

Series: Judaism in Context 23
Publication Date: Jul 28,2020
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 572
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0742-7
$178.00
$142.40
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Elijah the prophet’s role in rabbinic literature is a variegated one that encompasses both his role in the messianic era as well as his non-messianic appearances in rabbinic legends. In this work these different roles are explored through the prism of the wisdom tradition. The three stands of wisdom—the Torah-Centered wisdom tradition, the Apocalyptic-Centered wisdom tradition, and the Spirit-Centered wisdom tradition, as enumerated by Cornelis Bennema—serve as a guide in understanding the complex nature of wisdom and its influence on the Elijah legends. The kaleidoscopic and often disparate Elijah traditions can be viewed as a result of complex developments in the study of wisdom and its evolution in Second Temple literature. The nexus of ideas which include the evolution of Torah as wisdom, the merging of wisdom and apocalyptic, and the role of ‘divine spirit’ in attaining wisdom, link Elijah’s messianic role with his depiction in different rabbinic legends. This study demonstrates that the role of Elijah in the messianic era as a teacher of wisdom is a direct result of the messianic expectations of the Second Temple era in which wisdom elements informed the eschatological expectations of a messianic teacher in the End of Days. Furthermore, Elijah’s messianic role as teacher impacted the development of Elijah in rabbinic legends as a bearer of wisdom, as well as a mediator of divine wisdom in an era grappling with the loss of Temple and prophecy. One of the mediums through which these ideas were carried into the rabbinic period was the pietists, ḥasidim, who resembled the holy men of Late Antiquity. These pietists were connected with the Spirit-Centered wisdom tradition in Second Temple texts as well as rabbinic literature. It will be demonstrated that their role was integral to the development of the Elijah traditions and the dissemination of wisdom and pietistic ideas in rabbinic literature. This work will illustrate that the Elijah traditions in rabbinic literature were an outgrowth of the numerous evolutions in wisdom and apocalyptic thought during the Second Temple era. These developments can explain the variegated nature of the Elijah traditions which reflect his role as a teacher of the Law, a mediator of divine secrets, and a conduit for divine inspiration.

Elijah the prophet’s role in rabbinic literature is a variegated one that encompasses both his role in the messianic era as well as his non-messianic appearances in rabbinic legends. In this work these different roles are explored through the prism of the wisdom tradition. The three stands of wisdom—the Torah-Centered wisdom tradition, the Apocalyptic-Centered wisdom tradition, and the Spirit-Centered wisdom tradition, as enumerated by Cornelis Bennema—serve as a guide in understanding the complex nature of wisdom and its influence on the Elijah legends. The kaleidoscopic and often disparate Elijah traditions can be viewed as a result of complex developments in the study of wisdom and its evolution in Second Temple literature. The nexus of ideas which include the evolution of Torah as wisdom, the merging of wisdom and apocalyptic, and the role of ‘divine spirit’ in attaining wisdom, link Elijah’s messianic role with his depiction in different rabbinic legends. This study demonstrates that the role of Elijah in the messianic era as a teacher of wisdom is a direct result of the messianic expectations of the Second Temple era in which wisdom elements informed the eschatological expectations of a messianic teacher in the End of Days. Furthermore, Elijah’s messianic role as teacher impacted the development of Elijah in rabbinic legends as a bearer of wisdom, as well as a mediator of divine wisdom in an era grappling with the loss of Temple and prophecy. One of the mediums through which these ideas were carried into the rabbinic period was the pietists, ḥasidim, who resembled the holy men of Late Antiquity. These pietists were connected with the Spirit-Centered wisdom tradition in Second Temple texts as well as rabbinic literature. It will be demonstrated that their role was integral to the development of the Elijah traditions and the dissemination of wisdom and pietistic ideas in rabbinic literature. This work will illustrate that the Elijah traditions in rabbinic literature were an outgrowth of the numerous evolutions in wisdom and apocalyptic thought during the Second Temple era. These developments can explain the variegated nature of the Elijah traditions which reflect his role as a teacher of the Law, a mediator of divine secrets, and a conduit for divine inspiration.

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Contributor Biography

Hilla Alouf-Aboody

Hilla N. Alouf-Aboody holds a PhD in Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. Her research interests include Second Temple literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic texts.

Table of Contents (v)
Acknowledgements (ix)
Abbreviations (xi)

Part I. Introduction and Methodology (1)
Chapter One. Introduction, Background and Methodology (3)
Chapter Two. Defining Wisdom, Apocalytpicism, and Messianism: Methodological Concerns (47) 

Part II. Second Temple Background (87) 
Chapter Three. Second Temple Background: Wisdom and Apocalyptic (89) 
Chapter Four. The Second Temple Period and the Spirit-Centered Wisdom Tradition (141) 

Part III. Palestinian Sources and the Development of Elijah (179) 
Chapter Five. Elijah as Bearer of Wisdom in Tannaitic Sources (181) 
Chapter Six. Elijah and the Torah-Centered and Apocalyptic Wisdom Traditions in Palestinian Amoraic and Post-Amoraic Sources (229)
Chapter Seven. Elijah, the Ḥasidim, and the Spirit-Centered Wisdom Tradition in Palestinian Amoraic and Post-Amoraic Sources (283) 

Part IV. The Babylonian Talmud and the Development of Elijah (345) 
Chapter Eight. Elijah in the Torah-Centered and Apocalyptic Wisdom Traditions
of the Babylonian Talmud (347) 
Chapter Nine. Elijah and the Ḥasidim: The Remnants of the Spirit-Centered Wisdom Tradition in the Babylonian Talmud (409)
Chapter Ten. Conclusions and Observations (491)

Bibliography (499)
Index (543)

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