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Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism$
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Kattan Gribetz Sarit

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691192857

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691192857.001.0001

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Jewish and Christian Time

Jewish and Christian Time

(p.92) Chapter Two Jewish and Christian Time
Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism

Sarit Kattan Gribetz

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines rabbinic discussions of the Sabbath in light of Roman pagan critiques of and competing Christian claims to a weekly sacred day and other weekly worship practices. It begins by analyzing a section of Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael that contains an extended exegetical discussion about the Sabbath. This midrash offers passionate engagement with ideas that were popular in Second Temple and early Christian debates about Sabbath observance. The chapter then looks at a series of rabbinic stories that explore the sanctity of the Sabbath, found in fifth-century rabbinic sources compiled after Sunday became an imperially sanctioned day of rest and worship. It appears that rabbis proactively promoted the Sabbath as a day with distinct qualities that were inherent to it and persuaded Jews of this dimension of the Sabbath precisely because they worried that Jews might be drawn to other weekly temporal rhythms or that they could be susceptible to Roman Christian and non-Christian disparagement of the Sabbath and might therefore stop observing the Sabbath altogether.

Keywords:   Sabbath, Jewish time, Christian time, worship practices, Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Sabbath observance, rabbinic sources, rabbis, Jews, midrash

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