The fundamental problem is that “rabbinics” implies both a body of literature and a distinctive methodology or approach to that literature. In some quarters in Israel this perhaps accurately describes, for good or bad, how rabbinic literature is studied (e.g., philologically in a “department” of Talmud). In the American academy, however, “rabbinics” is not a discipline. Those of us who primarily use rabbinic literature are situated in departments of religious studies (most frequently), language and culture, and history. We are scholars trained in a particular discipline who use rabbinic texts for our data. I do not “do rabbinics.” I “do” Jewish history in antiquity, using rabbinic texts as one (even if it is the primary) set of sources.From there, he thinks Rabbinics scholars could take a lesson from scholars of Christianity in late antiquity--that is, those who used to call themselves "Patristics." Check out his full discussion here.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Death of "Rabbinics"?
Michael Satlow has an interesting idea for those who study Rabbinics: to kill it. He writes: