Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Secunda, The Iranian Talmud

The Iranian Talmud
Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian Context

Shai Secunda

272 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth Nov 2013 | ISBN 978-0-8122-4570-7 | $55.00s | £36.00 | Add to cart
Ebook Nov 2013 | ISBN 978-0-8122-0904-4 | $55.00s | £36.00 | About | Add to cart
A volume in the Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion series
View table of contents and excerpt

"Shai Secunda not only persuades his readers of the need for contextual study of the Bavli but also facilitates such study by educating them about the religious and ethnic communities of the Sasanian empire, the forms of literary and nonliterary evidence available, and appropriate methodological and theoretical approaches to the comparative study of Talmudic and Middle Persian literature. The Iranian Talmud will be the first sustained attempt both to demystify the project of Irano-Talmudic research and to provide a basic orientation to it."—Christine Hayes, Yale University

Although the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, has been a text central and vital to the Jewish canon since the Middle Ages, the context in which it was produced has been poorly understood. Delving deep into Sasanian material culture and literary remains, Shai Secunda pieces together the dynamic world of late antique Iran, providing an unprecedented and accessible overview of the world that shaped the Bavli.

Secunda unites the fields of Talmudic scholarship with Old Iranian studies to enable a fresh look at the heterogeneous religious and ethnic communities of pre-Islamic Iran. He analyzes the intercultural dynamics between the Jews and their Persian Zoroastrian neighbors, exploring the complex processes and modes of discourse through which these groups came into contact and considering the ways in which rabbis and Zoroastrian priests perceived one another. Placing the Bavli and examples of Middle Persian literature side by side, the Zoroastrian traces in the former and the discursive and Talmudic qualities of the latter become evident. The Iranian Talmud introduces a substantial and essential shift in the field, setting the stage for further Irano-Talmudic research.

Shai Secunda is a scholar at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and coeditor of Shoshannat Yaakov: Jewish and Iranian Studies in Honor of Yaakov Elman (with Steven Fine).
The book also has a website here.