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Rabbinic Texts and the History of Late-Roman Palestine$
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Martin Goodman and Philip Alexander

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264744

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264744.001.0001

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The Epistle of Sherira Gaon

The Epistle of Sherira Gaon

(p.253) 14 The Epistle of Sherira Gaon
Rabbinic Texts and the History of Late-Roman Palestine


British Academy

This chapter comments on the epistle of Sherira Gaon, which is considered an extraordinary instance of the genre of Geonic responsa written in 986 or 987. Sherira's Epistle is exceptional both in terms of its length and subject matter and it addresses a number of questions formulated by Rabbi Nissim b. Jacob ibn Shahin on behalf of the scholars of Qayrawan. This chapter questions Sherira's use of talmudic sources and oral traditions in the responsa and suggests that Sherira's statements are almost inversely proportional to the extent to which they are supported by the Talmud itself.

Keywords:   epistle, Sherira Gaon, Geonic responsa, Rabbi Nissim b. Jacob ibn Shahin, Qayrawan, talmudic sources, oral traditions

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