It is a pleasure to introduce a discussion that models the kind of discourse we hope to facilitate in the Society for Textual Reasoning. Here is a model of philosophy meeting Talmud and Talmud meeting philosophy. There are three aspects to this meeting. First, there is a celebration, reception and response to Menachem Fisch’s book Rational Rabbis: Science and Talmudic Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997). Second, there is an essay by Menachem that served as the centerpiece of a Textual Reasoning session, hosted by the Study of Judaism section of the American Academy of Religion in November 2002. Menachem’s essay, “Berakhot 19b: the Bavli’s Paradigm of Confrontational Discourse,” focuses on one of the central arguments of his book. Third, there is a set of responses to Menachem’s essay, by Aryeh Cohen, Shaul Magid, and Jacob Meskin, along with Menachem’s own reply.
Criticism, Interpretation, and Canon: A Reply of Sorts