Thursday, April 19, 2007

'Pardes,' from a 'Talmud Babylonicum' introduction: complete with a gaping anachronism.

In the October 1867 issue of the British periodical the Quarterly Review appeared an article called "Talmud Babylonicum," which meant to inform readers "What is the Talmud?" The article noted (claimed?) that "Turn where we may in the realms of modern learning, we seem to be haunted by it," and "that strange production of which the name, imperceptibly almost, is beginning to take its place among the household words of Europe." In short, this article was meant for the curious.

I uploaded the whole thing for download.

Here is an interesting excerpt:

Nothing new, of course, but it is noteworthy that at this relatively late date (1867) Jewish learning was still sufficiently shrouded in mystery that a simple anachronism is committed: pardes as an acronym for peshat, remez, derush and sod is a medieval mnemonic and thus does not apply to anything related to the Talmud, much less to the period of Chronicles (given that the term midrash first appears in that book), when this article assumes the term came into use!

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