Tannaitic aramaic: Methodological remarks and a test case

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In Israeli philological research on rabbinic literature, it is customary to distinguish לשון חכמים א, literally, ‘the Language of the Sages A’, i.e., Tannaitic Hebrew, from לשון חכמים ב ‘the Language of the Sages B’, i.e., Amoraic Hebrew. These Hebrew terms are somewhat infelicitous, since both Tannaitic and Amoraic sages composed texts in at least two languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, which are each attested in at least two dialects, respectively. In this article, we shall offer remarks on the most neglected of the languages of the sages: Tannaitic Aramaic, viz. the Aramaic dialect used in Tannaitic literature. Since space does not allow for a comprehensive treatment of the material, this sketch will be preliminary and restricted to three main points: 1) delineating the corpus in terms of time, place, and genres; 2) positioning Tannaitic Aramaic in the wider context of Aramaic dialects; 3) spelling out methodological difficulties (and possibilities) inherent to the Tannaitic Aramaic manuscript evidence. In addition, we shall exemplify how some of these more theoretical considerations affect the interpretation of a test case.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Rabbinic Hebrew
EditorsShai Heijmans
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherOpen Book Publishers
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781783746835
ISBN (Print)9781783746811, 9781783746804
StatePublished - May 2020

Publication series

NameSemitic Languages and Cultures
ISSN (Print)2632-6906
ISSN (Electronic)2632-6914

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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