Jewish-Christian Dialogues on Scripture in Late Antiquity: Heretic Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud by Michal Bar-Asher Siegal
Stories portraying heretics (‘minim’) in rabbinic literature are a central site of rabbinic engagement with the ‘other’. These stories typically involve a conflict over the interpretation of a biblical verse in which the rabbinic figure emerges victorious in the face of a challenge presented by the heretic. In this book, Michal Bar-Asher Siegal focuses on heretic narratives of the Babylonian Talmud that share a common literary structure, strong polemical language and the formula, ‘Fool, look to the end of the verse’. She marshals previously untapped Christian materials to arrive at new interpretations of familiar texts and illuminate the complex relationship between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity. Bar-Asher Siegal argues that these Talmudic literary creations must be seen as part of a boundary-creating discourse that clearly distinguishes the rabbinic position from that of contemporaneous Christians and adds to a growing understanding of the rabbinic authors’ familiarity with Christian traditions.