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Belser, Julia Watts
Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity. Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster.
Cambridge u. a.: Cambridge University Press 2015. XI, 239 S. Geb. US$ 103,00. ISBN 978-1-107-11335-0.
This excellent study of Bavli tractate Ta’anit investigates »the nexus of meaning that links Jewish conceptions of ecology, theology, and ethics« (4). The tractate deals with both communal and individual fasts and prayers to prevent droughts and bring about rain. From biblical times onwards, droughts were seen as God’s punishment for the sins of the Israelites. They were believed to be forestalled only through the meritorious behavior of the community and particularly pious individuals. This course-effect scheme continues in Palestinian rabbinic sources and also underlies the Bavli’s dis-course. What is new in Bavli Ta’anit, however, is the critical stance taken toward this »covenantal ecology«. In their long narrative sugyot the editors seem to convey the notion that ...
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