Richard Kalmin’s Migrating Tales is neither about ISIS nor about Palmyra but about similar pods of knowledge which were successfully able to traverse political and ethnic boundaries. The subtitle, The Talmud’s Narratives and their Historical Context, is slightly misleading. The book is not about the historical context of the narratives but rather about the historical context of their transmission and migration. That is, readers will not get to know the precise location of Alexander’s fountain of youth but they will learn something about the tribulations of the story of Alexander and fountain of youth. In this sense, the stories themselves are historic artifacts. In eight chapters, Kalmin shows how non-rabbinic traditions from the Roman East ended up in the most rabbinic of rabbinic works, the Babylonian Talmud, which was redacted beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.And here I was looking forward to finding out the precise location of the fountain of youth.
Earlier posts relating to the book are here, here, and here.