New Books Network

Lynn Kaye

Time In The Babylonian Talmud

Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative

Cambridge University Press 2018

New Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network August 8, 2019 Renee Garfinkel

The great writer Jorge Luis Borges said, “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but...

The great writer Jorge Luis Borges said, “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” Time is the topic of a new book by Lynn Kaye, Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought at Brandeis University and Visiting Library Fellow at The Van Leer Institute Jerusalem.

With insights gleaned from art and literature, as well as a close reading of Talmud texts, Lynn Kaye examines how rabbis of late antiquity thought about time through their legal reasoning and storytelling, and what these insights mean for thinking about time today. In Time In The Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Kaye demonstrates that temporal flexibility in the Babylonian Talmud is a means of exploring and resolving legal uncertainties, as well as a tool to tell stories that convey ideas effectively and dramatically. Her book, the first on time in the Talmud, makes accessible complex legal texts and philosophical ideas. It also connects the literature of late antique Judaism with broader theological and philosophical debates about time.


Renee Garfinkel is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, writer, and television & radio commentator. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com or tweet @embracingwisdom