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Re: orion List Moderator

On Sun, 27 Jul 1997, Yirmiyahu Ben-David wrote:

> Martin Jaffee is also the authority on Martin Jaffee's definition and I
> expect he can express himself.  I've been in contact with him and find his
> position to be in complete harmony with mine regarding 'oral law.'
	Let me clarify again my point (which is, after all, an opinion,
not halakhah lemosheh misinai): The terms "Oral Torah" and "Written
Torah" are juriprudential concepts native to rabbinic Judaism, whereby
the OT is a source of heremeneutical rules and exegetical results that
enable Israel to interpret and apply the WT. Eventually (by the third
century or so) it was claimed that this OT was Sinaitic in origin and
that its texts--the Mishnah in particular--had to be memorized for oral
performance by disciples in order to be fully admitted into the ranks of
rabbinic teachers.
	It is in my view anachronistic to retroject either OT or WT back
into Secondd Temple times. There is no evidence anywhere in that period
of: 1. the idea of a Sinaitic unwritten revelation; 2. the notion that
oral traditions such as certainly existed (as they would by necessity in
any legal/scriptural system) needed to me memorized verbatim. Hence what
the Rabbis called OT did not exist in ST times, even though all Jewish
groups would have had their own oral traditions. I hold as wwell that
this would include Sadducees. They might have THOUGHT they were
"literalists", but "literalism" requires its own hermeneutical principles 
and is, in fact, transmitted as tradition. So ALL Second Temple Jewish
groups would have had Scripture and tradition as an interactive complex.
What they fought about is: 1. who had the right collection of Scripture
and 2. who had the right interpretive tradition.
	All of this is perfectly intelligble historically without
shlepping in rabbinic technical terminology and muddying perfectly placid 
	These are my views as best I can express them. I ask not to be
pestered off-list by people riding various hobby-horses about Sadduceean
or Essene views of Oral Torah. I suggested to one such person that he
read a few things. He said he couldn't afford to buy books. That 's a
perfectly acceptible response: but it should also translate into a
respect for the limits of one's own knowledge, a curiosity about the
views of others who may have studied more, and, finally, the modesty to
refrain from holding iron-clad judgments. 
	Sorry for my snippy tone, but I am really not too interested in
getting caught up in the personal vendettas that seem to be the normal
discourse on this list. I am submitting this post only in deference to
personal requests received from members over private e-mail.
	Thank you. Marty Jaffee, U of Washington