Resurrection of the Dead (Talmud Group)


[Ezekiel panel at Dura Europos] Ready to start Talmud Group at Syracuse this year, we are going to focus on messianism, namely the “messianic text” which is actually an anti-messianic text in chapter Helek of tractate Sanhedrin. We read the opening mishnah and i proceeded to jump over immediately to the subject at hand, namely the skeptical discourse in this tractate re: our subject. I suspect that point about messianism constitutes an important Jewish/Christian difference, at least in relation to the rabbis.

To my utter surprise the Christian members who constitute this year the majority of Talmud Group were horrified. How could I just skip over the resurrection of the dead, the discussion of which precedes the discussion of the messiah in this chapter?! In Christianity, I suddenly learned, the point was made with some force, resurrection is super important, whereas I suggested that, in “Judaism,” it represents something more along the scale of a single liturgical line or maybe part of the backdrop scenery.

I’m expecting pushback from Jewish Studies. Of course it depends on which Judaism, but I’m not interested in the hot bath of Second Temple period so-called sectarian speculation. Are the rabbis (and this is what i suspect) in chapter Helek maybe trying to cap this thing, just like they did to messianism? But for Christianity, we’re going to look at resurrection when Talmud Group resumes next week, although my quick sense scanning the material is that, in the gemara, the interest in this putatively fundamental doxa is just going to dribble off.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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