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Re: orion response to R. Gmirkin

   I am familiar with Neusner. He is a little too revisionistic for my
taste. I prefer the works of Finkelstein, a two volume book called "The
Pharisees". It would be a mistake to too quickly discount the Mishnaic
sources due to its high amount of folklorization. Would you argue that
Akiba was never killed by the Romans? An oral tradition is a very valid
tradition anthropologically. Just because these sources were finally
written down hundreds of years later does not mean they were totally
unhistorical and unusable. Remember, most biblical texts were part of
an oral tradition years before they were ever written down. 
   An oral tradition is a very conservative tradition. In some tribes, a
deviation in the oral tradition meant seath. In Anatolia the entire
tradition of the few remaining Persian Zoreasternists (sp?) is to this
day entirely oral.Should an ethnographer abandon it for study? 
   IMHO the Jewish oral tradition is more valid than a contemporary
Gentile observer who wrote about a Jewish culture that he did not
understand. Atleast the Mishnaic sources were within their original
cultural context. We are not dealing with fiction, but a folk tradition.
Too often we assume that these are one and the same. That a folk tradition
reflects a total distortion of history, as if a written tradition could
never be distorted. 
   What purpose would it serve to keep a tradition that Jose ben Joezer
was the first Nasi, a member of the Hasidean movement who died as a
martyre at the hands of an evil High priest, a nephew of his, Alcimus. Can
you offer a working model that would explain this phenomona socially and
culturally. Neusner's point cannot be proven, as there is no supportive
data, i.e. alternative accounts from other sources. Hence no one can
contradict him, hence he is correct. You cannot support an argument from
the lack of material like this. Atleast with a folkloristic approach you
can analyze the variantions within the stories to see why they were
preserved and what meaning they had for the people; What is common in the
differing stories, are they legends, exemplas and so on. And perhaps with
a little understanding of the folk tradition you can see if there is any
historical truth in these stories, as often is the case. I would argue
that you are throwing the baby out with the bath water.       

Bradley Harrison

On Tue, 28 Oct 1997 RGmyrken@aol.com wrote:

> Bradley Harrison wrote:
> >...Jose ben Joezer (my choice for
> >RT) was a leader of the Hasidean movement who was killed by his nephew,
> >Alcimus (IMHO the WP).  
> >Jose ben Joezer, as some may know, was the first Nasi of the Sanhedrin
> >Gadol... 
> You might read Jacon Neusner, The Rabbinc Traditions About the Pharisees
> Before 70 (E J Brill, 1971) 1.76-77, which gives a critical evaluation of the
> tradition to which you refer.  He points out that it had no connections to
> other traditions about Yosi b. Yo'ezer, and appears to echo some of the late
> legends of R. Aqiba's martyrdom.  He discounts the identification of Yakim of
> Sururot with Alcimus or any historical conclusions made thereby.
> Best wishes,
> Russell Gmirkin