Daniel Weiss: "Early Christian literature as a heterotopia for early rabbinic literature"
Prominent texts of early Christianity -- taking Paul’s letters or the the Synoptic Gospels as prime examples -- are not treated as ‘canonical’ by the earliest texts (tannaitic literature) of rabbinic Judaism. Such a statement could appear at first glance to be a trivial truism. However, in this paper, I argue that, within the conceptual framework of tannaitic literature, some ‘extra-canonical’ traditions may be viewed significantly differently from other ‘extra-canonical’ traditions -- from this perspective, not all extra-canonical traditions are created equal. Rather, while the tannaitic texts may treat certain traditions as unacceptable (especially those that they group under the category of ‘minut’, or sectarianism/heresy), they do not appear to assign an inherently excluded status to various other ‘non-rabbinic’ traditions. While most previous scholars have assumed that ‘Christianity’ per se would be classed under minut within the rabbinic framework, I argue that, in fact, it may only be certain streams of ‘Christianity’/Jesus-movements that would have been placed under this category in the theology and ideology displayed in tannaitic literature. In particular, the tannaitic texts do not seem to treat messianic claims as one of their categories of exclusion or condemnation. As such, it may be that many of the traditions in early Christian literature, particularly in the Synoptic Gospels, may have been ‘extra-canonical’ in one sense, and yet not ‘beyond the pale’ in another. These observations may help us to reconceive the relation between ‘canonical’ and ‘extra-canonical’ in rabbinic Judaism more broadly, as well as in Christianity. In line with the Regensburg ‘Beyond Canon’ project, we can ask: does the notion of ‘canonical’ need to be rethought if (in lived or practical terms, as well as theoretical terms) ‘extra-canonical’ need not mean ‘completely othered’?
Uni Regensburg, SGLG 311