משלי חז”ל האוסף השלם (Parables of the Sages: The Complete Collection), by. R. Steven Notley and Ze’ev Safrai

Carta Publications

Carta Publications

A new volume published by Carta will shed significant light on the parables in both early Jewish and Christian traditions. This book is a collection of all the parables of the Tannaim (the rabbis whose traditions appear in the earliest stratum of Rabbinic literature). Some of the Tannaim flourished during the days of the first century B.C.E. and C.E. (e.g. the zugot, Hillel, and Shammai). There is an extensive introduction and commentary that accompanies the parables, thus, the reader will have to know both Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew to make a whole use of this volume – though the person who understands Rabbinic Hebrew will enjoy this collection (There is a biglott, Hebrew/English edition in the works but the details are unknown for now). This particular collection is divided by subject (e.g. אדם, אדם ונשים, ארץ ישראל).

Parables are mostly known because they were the primary teaching method of Jesus and thus they are preserved only in Greek. As Shmuel Safrai and others have noted, outside of the Gospels, the parable is a Jewish teaching method that was always preserved (even actually taught) in Hebrew. This is the case even when the parable is surrounded by Aramaic commentary. The assumption then is, as well, that Jesus would have originally taught his parables in Hebrew. Therefore, this collection not only offers insight into the content and purpose of some of Jesus’ parables but also help in dealing with and deciphering the language of others. While I have yet to read Klyne Snodgrass’ Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2008), the commonly overlooked component to parable research, specifically the parables of Jesus, are their setting within contemporary Jewish pedagogy of both the first century and the Tannaim. There is one notable work, however, that was completed by Brad Young in 1989, Jesus and His Jewish Parables: Rediscovering the Roots of Jesus’ Teaching (Theological Inquiries, Studies in Contemporary Biblical and Theological Perspectives; Paulist Press). This is actually the publication of Young’s doctoral dissertation completed under the direction of Hebrew U’s David Flusser. That said, this complete collection of Tannaitic parables is a unique work and when the biglot edition is completed it will be a standard work for all those working in the New Testament, Second Temple Judaism, and early Rabbinic Judaism.

The Carta page describing this volume can be seen here in Hebrew. There is no English version, yet.

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