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Re: orion Orion Mishnah as History

  I agree with most of what you said, I realize that the Mishnah is at
best a problematic source historically due to its high level of
editing.But we are not dealing with one piece here another there, the area
of dispute is the corpus of the material. Josephus was just as edited as
the Mishnah, and so. 
  You do seem to misunderstand some of my pionts, but since you seem to 
agreed on the one piont that most ancient sources are very folklorized, as
that is what I was trying to say, we're OK on that issue. 
  As far as the material being reformed, well so was Josephus's as well as
many other sources including the DSS. As far as what percentage of the
Mishnah has parallels in other historical texts, only a small portion of
the Mishnah is "historical". 
  No you stated that you knew and published on the Mishnah in this post,
then why didn't you address the historiocity of the Avoth passage in
question, as opposed to dragging me into a debate in which we agree on 99
percent of your pionts. 
  The Mishnah like many texts (Bible for one) is stratified, you have to
peal off its layers to find those few historical elements with in it. This
you know. But what started this big mess was that the Mishnah
fictionalized entire movements and institutions, this is unacceptable to
me. This is all I have to say, please if I mention Mishnah again, talk
about the verse that I used, not the corpus of the document.
  Thank You


On Fri, 7 Nov 1997, Paul V. M. Flesher wrote:

> The following is an exchange between Bradley Harrison and Paul Flesher.
> Bradley is represented by a single >, Paul is represented by a double >> or
> by no >.
> >> Well, the question is whether one wants to do history (as "wissenschaft")
> >> or whether one wants to talk about what the "folk" believe.
> >
> >With in the sources, all of them that are generally being used in this
> >forum, that distinction can never be made, history is the folk belief of
> >these peoples.
> No, the folk belief is what the folk believe.  It is not history, at least
> not as history is understood in the western academic world.
> >You cannot impose a philosphy that was a product of the
> >Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries upon any ancient source.
> If that is the case, then most of what is done is done in history
> departments should just stop.  In the western universities, we are all
> products of the enlightenment.  We cannot talk about our fields, teach,
> research or write without exuding enlightenment assumptions and principles.
> >
> > The former
> >> requires certain rules of evidence in order to declare something
> >> historical.  I like to use the newspaper editor's rule (which is of course
> >> not even a good historical test), do you have two independent sources
> >> saying the same thing?
> >
> >You are still dealing with folk beliefs,in fact you are dealing with four
> >folk beliefs, the first source's, the second source's, the interpreters
> >and the reader's.
> I couldn't agree more.
> >
> > Very little in the Mishnah is confirmed by any
> >> source that stands at the same distance from the C1 or even in the C1.
> >>
> >>
> >  Ist off, there is a great deal of other outside sources that varify a
> >good portion of the Mishnaic material. Such as the DSS, Greek sources,
> >Roman sources, Macc; I + II, Josephus, and so on.
> I agree that some material in the mishnah is paralleled by such sources.
> But it is unfortunately a very small percentage of the book.
> >  2nd, Mishnaic literature is a collection of books that perhaps could
> >fill up entire library shelves, and not one book. So in your theory this
> >material could support itself as well as contradict itself as does
> >happen, even with other sources, much like Josephus and the Bible, but in
> >a much larger scale in terms of the amount of literature that is actually
> >involved. Pirke Avoth for example is believed to have been a much
> >earlier text included later into the Mishnah.
> You are incorrect on several accounts.  (1) Most of the mishnah's masektot
> were written using the same principles of organization, from the smallest
> units of discourse up to the organization of each maseket.  (2) Sure the
> mishnah's framers drew upon other sources, but they reformulated what they
> borrowed into their own rhetoric.  (3) Avot is more likely later than the
> mishnah, not earlier.  Although you are correct that it was probably
> composed as a separate work.
> >  4th it is not scientific to neglect or regect a potential source for
> >information simply because you are ignorant of that information,
> I have rejected nothing.  I merely said that the mishnah was poor source
> for doing history.  There are many other types of interesting studies that
> one can do of the mishnah and other rabbinic texts that have little to do
> with history.  In fact, I find the historical question ("did this really
> happen") rather limiting and boring.
> >as it
> >appears to be the case with you sir, as your observations are due to the
> >lack of observation and understanding of the Mishnaic sources.
> >
> >Harrison
> Bradley, before you make such a remark.  I suggest you look my name up in
> your library's card catalog.  You might find some interesting reading.
> Paul
> Paul V. M. Flesher, Director
> Religious Studies Program
> University of Wyoming
> Laramie, WY  82071-3353
> PFlesher@uwyo.edu
> 307-766-2616