Public lecture Galit Hasan-Rokem: ‘Doublespeak of the Rabbis: Folk Narrative Poetics of Late Antique Parables and Fables’

Galit Hasan-Rokem is a retired professor from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is specialized in the study of folklore, especially in the context of the (Ancient) Middle East. She is the author and editor of numerous works, amongst which Tales of the Neighborhood: Jewish Narrative Dialogues in Late Antiquity (2003) and A Companion to Folklore (2012).  During our conference ‘Power of Parables’ professor Hasan-Rokem gave a lecture with the title “Doublespeak of the Rabbis: Folk Narrative Poetics of late Antique parables and fables”. An abstract of this lecture can be found below:

The parable was a privileged and preferred genre among the Jewish sages of Late Antiquity, that we usually call the Rabbis. This lecture will start with the question why the parable served the Rabbis so well in their scholastic, interpretive, theological and educational project. What is it in its double system of reference that makes it such a versatile tool in their literary and rhetorical corpus. I shall then take up a few different subgroups of parables that were popular among the Rabbis – such as kings’ parables, animal and plant parables – to show how each such group functions within the general framework of Rabbinical texts and to offer a perspective from the study of folk narratives to address those selected parables and fables in the vast corpus of Late Antique Rabbinical literature. Furthermore, I shall trace the processes of adaptation to the Rabbinical culture in those cases that there are parallels in other cultures. The inbuilt multi-vocality of the parable genre will serve to demonstrate the inherent multi-vocality of Rabbinic literature in general.

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