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The Sacred History in Late Antiquity : Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and Its Relationship to the Book of Jubilees and the Cave of Treasures

Abstract : Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE) is a watershed in the history of rabbinic literature. This ninth-century work, an account of “biblical history” from creation until the time of Esther, is the first extended, continuous narrative of any sort in rabbinic literature. It is also, in all probability, the first major rabbinic work to derive from the hand of a single author. The most remarkable aspect of PRE, however, is its introduction into rabbinic tradition of several legends about biblical figures which are not found in the classical rabbinic corpus. Modern scholarship considers the non-rabbinic legends in PRE an example of the survival of Second Temple literature within Jewish tradition. The present study, however, will attempt to explain the non-rabbinic material found in PRE as the result of the author’s adoption (and adaptation) of elements from the surrounding Christian and Muslim culture rather than through the direct transmission of Second Temple works among Jews. This hypothesis will be tested through the examination of two works close to PRE in form and content, the Book of Jubilees (Hebrew, second century BCE) and the Cave of Treasures (Syriac, sixth century CE). All three are accounts of “Sacred History,” that is, the history of ancient Israel as recounted independently of the biblical text. It is not a study of biblical exegesis. Rather, it is an inquiry into comparative mythology, the evolution of tradition, and the construction of communal identities through the transformation of a shared history, the history of the ancient prophets and patriarchs.
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Gavin Mcdowell. The Sacred History in Late Antiquity : Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and Its Relationship to the Book of Jubilees and the Cave of Treasures. Religions. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PSLEP059⟩. ⟨tel-02106965⟩

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