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By Robert (editor) Chazan

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Additional resources for AJS REVIEW The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies Vol. IX, No. 1 Spring 1984

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Conclusions Utilizing a variety of approaches in the analysis of our passage from the Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, including formula comparison, sensitivity to the use of language, theme and structural analysis, as well as concern with historical context, we have been able to accomplish three important goals. First, we have isolated the three basic units of material from which our tradition is constructed. Second, we now have a very good idea of how these individual blocks of material were edited together into a rather uniform, well-developed tradition which builds to a climax.

The evolutionof this somewhatcyclicalpatterncan best be illustratedby the examinationof variousexamples,each of which facilitatesits analysis step by constitutionalstep. In both cases, moreover,that keter attemptedto attainconstitutionalpreponderanceby encroachinguponroles 17. And it is significant that classic Jewish sources do acknowledge the weight which it deserves. "R. Joshua ben Kovsai said: 'All my life I ran away from executive authority [serarah];now that I wield it, I pour a pot full of boiling water on all who would take it away from me.

When GentileChristiansand Gnosticswereclaimingthatsalvationwouldcome as a resultof either faith or mysticalknowledge,the rabbisof the secondand third century had to go out of their way to emphasizethat for the Jew redemptionwould be the rewardfor observanceof the commandments. Additionally, it is not surprisingthat the core tradition ascribed to R. Nehemiahsingledout Abrahamas an exampleof one who, throughthe performanceof even a singleact, was rewardedwith life in the world-to-come. Since Abrahamwas viewedby the earlychurchas the majorillustrationof the Paulinenotion of justificationby faith,and Genesis 15:6was thoughtto 74.

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