Monday, January 21, 2008

Rabbi Yishmael = Acher ?

The Wikipedia article on Rabbi Yishmael has a curious paragraph in it:
In the book, " 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly," [McGinley, 2006] there is an interesting, albeit controversial, hypothesis offered concerning the historical identity of Rabbi Ishmael. The suggestion offered there is that "Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha" is a Rabbinic cognomen for the famous and officially discredited tannaitic apostate, Elisha ben Abbuyah. The contention is that through this ruse the Rabbis were able to give expression to the vast halakhic and hermeneutic rulings and achievements of the otherwise discredited "Akher." The argument entails the reading of the famous aggadah (Gittin, 58a) by which Rabbi Joshua liberated the young "Rabbi Ishmael" from Roman imprisonment as a "mashal" by which this device of a cover name for the discredited Akher could function as a manner of referring to the vast body of teachings of this Elisha ben Abuyah while at the same time not directly honoring the discredited Akher. The vignette has Rabbi Joshua asking the "imprisoned" young man the question of Isaiah 42:24 and receiving from the "imprisoned" Ishmael the repentant answer which constitutes the rest of that verse. Further the dual character of the 42:24 text which Joshua is presented as choosing is intriguing. The wrong of the one, here called "Israel" there called "Jacob," of the prophet's words (with consequences for being unfaithful to Hashem) seems to point to the redactor's implication that Joshua and "Ishmael" carry shared paradigmatic responsibility for the multi-faceted wrong, and its respective consequences, brought about "on that day" which so cruelly injured the Rabbinic Movement.

A pretty wild assertion. So I went to check out this book, and boy, it is IN-SANE. It's written like beat poetry or something... Who is this John McGinley?

Check it out here...


Blogger -suitepotato- said...

"non-Orthodox need not apply"

"Karaism is even less my cup of tea than Geonic Judaism"

I bookmarked the publisher's sale page for this book. I'll have to order it at some point. It's more scattered and less to the point while trying to be to the point than I am. Which is saying a lot.

January 22, 2008 6:19 PM  

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