07 March 2010

Rabbi Zadok?

רבי צדוק אומר, לא תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהם, ולא קורדום לחפור בהם
Rabbi Zadok says, "You should not make them a crown to be embiggened with them, nor a spade to dig with them" (Avot 4.7)
The sage of the statement above, Rabbi Zadok, who lived in the first century CE is not a sage about whom I know much, which is why it was interesting, albeit random, when I came across an article about him recently.* From that article, I've excerpted two sections. The first is about his traditions (p. 139):
As was mentioned in our Introduction, Sadoq may be deemed a minor figure for precisely the same reason the minor prophets were so designated. There are extremely few extant traditions of Sadoq in the rabbinic literature. Neusner lists two hundred and nineteen legal traditions for the Houses, and two hundred and twenty-eight for Eliezer b. Hyrcanus. The legal corpus of Sadoq, on the other hand, totals only fourteen traditions. It is preposterous to imagine that the body of Sadoq’s traditions preserved in the literature represents the totally gamut of legal issues with which Sadoq concerned himself. We must have in our possession only a fraction of his legal rulings. Moreover, we can have no idea of what processes of selection (if any) were brought to bear in the preservation and transmission of those traditions of Sadoq which are extant. There is no reason to assume that the distribution of fourteen sources over various areas of concern in fact represents the relative concern of Sadoq about different issues. For example, that of the fourteen traditions none deal with tithes, heave-offering, pe’ah or the like, is hardly firm evidence that Sadoq was unconcerned with these issues or that he never expounded any legal opinions regarding them. In short, the connection between the extant legal agendum and the man is tenuous indeed.
The second is the conclusion about who he was (pp. 142-143):
The study of Sadoq’s traditions has revealed very little of the man himself. Most sources which purport to be of biographical significance appear to be quite late, and cannot be traced to earlier sources. Hence, they are virtually of no value in reconstructing the events of Sadoq’s life, his attitudes and personality. The legal traditions, which, relatively speaking, are earlier, still cannot be shown with certainty to date much before the beginning of the third century. They are, nevertheless, the “best” data available to us. But even here the extreme paucity of the tradition makes it impossible to formulate any detailed picture of the man supposedly behind the tradition. Any statements concerning trends in policy and thought extrapolated from some dozen or so sources could have little claim to reliability. The claims which have been made are that Sadoq was a Pharisee at Yavneah, a contemporary of Joshua and Gamliel II, and seemingly a figure of considerable worth to the patriarchate of the latter.
In our study, we have pointed out where the often repeated notions of Sadoq’s priestly descent and Shammaite leanings find their basis. The first appears to underly an Amoraic periscope in b. Bek. 36a, and is explicitly mentioned in ARNa 16, a relatively late compilation. The second notion, that Sadoq was a Shammaite, solely relies upon possible implications of Tos. Suk. 2:3. No better evidence for these claims can be adduced; they deserve, therefore, to be forwarded only with severe qualifications.
Oddly enough, however, what is a hindrance in uncovering “the man” is of significance in other areas of concern, namely the formulation and transmission of Sadoq’s traditions. Since, as has been proven by Porton, the tradition channels through the ‘Aqivan redactional circle, the paucity of Sadoq’s traditions indicates that, at least for the ‘Aqivans, Sadoq was an unimportant and peripheral {143} figure. Our study of the forms assumed by the traditions of Sadoq serves to support this claim. The sources show a general tendency to forms utilizing indirect discourse such as testimonies, and particularly to narratives. The lemma and its use in dispute form, the “hallmark” if the ‘Aqivan redactional circle, is much less common in the corpus of Sadoq’s traditions. Hence, on formal grounds alone, we were able to claim that Sadoq’s traditions are peripheral to the ‘Aqivan tradents.
Since the traditions of Gamaliel II exhibit the same penchant for narratives as opposed to lemmas and disputes, and since several sources represent Sadoq as having strong ties with the patriarchate of Gamaliel II, we have suggested the circle of patriarchal redactors as an origin for the body of Sadoq’s traditions. This was further confirmed by a correlation of the narrative mode of expression with pro-Gamaliel substance.
If any traditions may have originated from a circle with closer ties to Sadoq (such as a circle of his disciples), we have suggested the testimonies. We have also adduced some evidence for a claim that at least these traditions entered the redactional mainstream through the circle of Joshua’s disciples. It is particularly with these traditions that we find the concerted effort to demonstrate Sadoq’s alignment with the opinions of the sages. Such an effort is quite consistent with our notion that some strong relationship existed between Sadoq and Gamaliel II. Moreover, it would lead one to suspect that the relationship was historical as well as redactional.


* - Jack Nathan Lightstone, “Sadok the Yavnean,” in Persons and Institutions in Early Rabbinic Judaism, ed. William Scott Green (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1977), 49-147.

No comments: