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«Bis dat, qui cito dat»

«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday

Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna

Bis dat, qui cito dat – never has a proverb more aptly applied to an individual than does this Medieval Latin saying to Wolfgang Mieder. «He gives twice who gives quickly» captures the essence of his entire career, his professional as well as personal life. As a Gegengabe, this international festschrift honors Wolfgang Mieder on the occasion of his seventieth birthday for his contributions to world scholarship and his kindness, generosity, and philanthropy. Seventy-one friends and colleagues from around the world have contributed sixty-six essays in six languages to this volume, representative of the scope and breadth of his impressive scholarship in paremiology, folklore, language, and literature. This gift in return provides new insights from acknowledged experts from various fields of research.
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Negotiating Canons: Rabbinic Proverbs Between Oral Tradition and Scripture

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Galit Hasan-Rokem

A proverb is – mutatis mutandis – Torah.

(Yiddish proverb)

Proverbs in Rabbinic Literature

Rabbinic literature, collectively authored by scholarly Jews between ca. 200 CE and 800 CE mostly in Babylonia (roughly Iraq and western Iran of today) and Palestine, abounds in proverbs. Rabbinic proverbs are often quoted in Modern Hebrew speech and literature, probably more often than biblical proverbs, except for the book of Ecclesiastes. Moreover, many Modern Hebrew speakers will identify the genre of proverbs above all with the corpus of rabbinic literature, so that they will initially identify any proverbial expression – especially sounding antique or Aramaic – as rabbinic and ancient unless otherwise informed (Hasan-Rokem, 1982:25 & 29–30). The primary textual frame of reference of rabbinic literature in general is the Hebrew Bible, from which both ritual, legal and moral authority is drawn. The parallel and sometimes purposely connected occurrence of Scriptural quotes and orally transmitted proverbs – by either rabbis or laypeople – produces an interesting interface and arena of negotiation between multiple sources of authority: Scripture, the rabbis' written documents, their oral traditions and popular oral tradition, including of neighboring cultures.

Most contemporary paremiologists, unlike many of their predecessors, study proverbs not as detached utterances or sentences, but rather as part of a discursive context – be it written or spoken. Alphabetically or even thematically organized proverb collections will for most of us be the least ideal discursive context for a serious study. However, in...

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