Monday, May 16, 2005

תנא דבי אליהו

What is the meaning of the phrase תנא דבי אליהו on the bottom of 13a? I know that there is a work by this name, but we critical thinkers cannot possibly believe that this work was composed by אליהו הנביא himself. (And non-critical thinkers have no business pronouncing the name אליהו; they must say קֵלִיקָקוּ, qeyliqoqu.)

I wonder:
a) Did the ancients believe that these teachings indeed stemmed from Elijah the Prophet? If so, in what capacity could he have taught these teachings? Surely, he did not teach them in his earthly existence in the reign of King Ahab.
b) Does our story in fact appear in any of the recensions of the book תנא דבי אליהו (or סדר אליהו רבא וזוטא)?
c) There is no C, because איך ווייס נישט וואָס איז סי.

On Friday night, December 27, 2002, I had some friends over for Shabbath dinner. At this meal, this סוגיא was one of the סוגיי that we discussed. My friend NG (now Rabbi NG) pointed out: "Note Eliyyahu's not-so-great pastoral skills-- ברוך המקום שהרגו: borukh hashem that your husband died."

3 Comments:

At Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, Anonymous mivami said...

As the 9 or so statements in Shas atributed to TdE are all of the same type as the statements attrributed to Tanna debe R Yishmael one assumes the texts being quoted stem from various schools associated with the named person. Not Elijah the Prophet (though a couple statements seem to imply that) but (R.?) Elijah (otherwise unknown) in whose home "Torah" was studied.
At least thats how I would jump to conclusions.:)

 
At Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Of the eleven statements attributed by the Bavli to תנא דבי אליהו, five appear in the work known as תנא דבי אליהו or סדר אליהו רבה/זוטא. What is the origin of this work?

William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein, in the introduction to their English translation of Tanna de-Be Eliyyahu: The Lore of the School of Elijah (JPS, 1981) write:

"In conclusion, Margulies asserts that the author of Tanna debe Eliyyahu was a certain Abba Eliyyahu who lived in the first half of the third century during Yezdegerd I's persecution of the Jews. The work leads us to believe that Eliyyahu's home was jabneh in the Land of Israel, that he studied and taught in Jerusalem, and that he also traveled in Babylonia and Persia, instructing Jews in prayer and Torah (ER, 63).

Ephraim Urbach (1912-) all but dismisses Margulies' arguments as unconvincing, and concludes from internal linguistic and literary evidence that the work was composed in the ninth century C.E. Like Urbach, a number of other scholars making use of particular allusion in the text have also ventured to supply a date to the work: e.g., the third century in the time of Jezdegerd I; the first half of the fourth century in the time of Constantine the Great; the latter half of the fourth century in the time of the Emperor Julian; the fifth century in the time of Jezdegerd II; the seventh century in the time of the Emperor Heraclius; the ninth century in the days of the Patriarch Yeshu bar Nun of Baghdad; and the enth century when Hungarian hordes ravaged Europe." (introduction, p.9)

 
At Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, Anonymous mivami said...

without getting too bogged (or is that blogged?) down in Talmudic textaul history: since some of the TdE-attributed statements in the talmud do not appear in the text of the same that we have, does this suggest
1. the talmud (prior to ca 540) already had a book called Tde (which would suggest a date of compilation at least a final terminus)
2. The statements or at least some of them were intepolated much later
3. some (ie those not foudn in our text of TdE) of the TdE attributions are false, either intentionally so to credit the statement with more authority, or unintentionally so as a result of a copyist's error or assumption
4. any other possibilty?

ps does preoccupation with such a minor point in a daf yomi setting indicate unhealthy obsession with picayune points or something else?

 

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