18 January 2009

More on the Stammaim

After beginning reading an article this morning, I found the beginning wildly fascinating. So, more on the topic of the stammaim:
We have become familiar with the methods, mentality and style of this component, and can recognize its typical intervention in aggada as well as halakha, in anonymous discourse as well as within the bounds of attributed statements, or even in the formulation of new memrot as part and parcel of the dialectic being created, when context and style may require, or benefit from, the statement of a named amora at that point.
These anonymous authors may have lent their hands to other types of literary creativity as well, such as composition and arrangement. On the other hand, dialectic commentary was their forté, and they may well have left the other functions to specialists in those fields. Various types of creative literary intervention already marked earlier stages of talmudic literature, and the results of these efforts are also included in the Bavli. There are consequently more options for identifying the source of creative composition or transmission than ascribing it to the latest anonymous redactors.1
At the end of the previous line, Friedman notes that
Halivni’s terminology may have been a factor in creating the impression that all these functions were carried out by the same individuals. Dubbing the period itself “the period of the Stammaim” may lead one to think that the same “Stammaim” perform all literary functions assignable to that period; associating literary creativity of all types to “Stammaim” may lead one to think that the discursive commentators are the only creative forces operating in the Talmud. Halivni himself attempted to deflect some of these conclusions by having various types of “Stammaim”, some of whom already operated during the Amoraic period.2
1 - Shamma Friedman, "A Good Story Deserves Retelling: The Unfolding of the Akiva Legend," JSIJ 3 (2004), 57-58.
2 - Friedman, "A Good Story Deserves Retelling," 58, n. 15.


Pierre Sogol said...

You've discussed R. Halivni in the past and posed for a great picture with him, as I recall. I would like some (completely confidential) idea of how he is viewed in some of your circles, you can reach me off-thread. Thanks! Hag Sameach!

Drew_Kaplan said...

To be honest, I don't know, per se, how he's viewed in "some of my circles". He doesn't come up all that much in discussion. Although we have some of his books at school, we otherwise don't really talk about him.