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A FORTIORI LOGIC

© Avi Sion, 2013 All rights reserved.

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A FORTIORI LOGIC

CHAPTER 15 – Saul Lieberman

1. Hermogenes

2. Influences on rabbis

3. Reassessment

4. Cicero

1. Hermogenes

Saul Lieberman (Belarus, 1898 – Israel, 1983), in a celebrated 1950 essay called “Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture”[1], discusses, among other topics, the seven “norms of interpretation” expounded by Hillel and the thirteen enumerated by R. Ishmael, which were used for halakhic (i.e. legal) purposes. “Many modern scholars have investigated these rules in detail,” he tells us, giving Adolf Schwarz as example, but none “has been able to discover definite Greek influence in them.”

Lieberman then quotes the 12th century Karaite author Judah Hadassi (ben Elijah), who, in Eshkol haKofer[2], compared the thirteen rabbinic rules to “twelve norms” in the “rules and laws” of “the sages of Greece” called “ergasias kai epicheiremata [executions and arguments].” Lieberman identifies this as an indirect reference to Hermogenes[3], who counted six “arguments,” namely “place, time, way (manner), person, cause, [and] fact;’” and six “executions,” by which every argument is elaborated, viz. “from a parable [a possible illustration], from an example [an actual case], from something smaller, from something bigger, from something equal, [and] from something opposite.”

What mainly interests us here is Lieberman’s following comment (where the terms ‘arguments’ and executions’ must, of course, be understood in their specific sense just mentioned):

“The arguments have certainly nothing to do with the rabbinic rules; we therefore shall consider the executions only. A comparison between the executions and the thirteen hermeneutic rules of R. Ishmael will demonstrate that they have only the kal va-homer and the analogy in common” (p. 433).

In an endnote, Lieberman clarifies: “Of R. Ishmael’s rules the Karaite cited here only the first two, the kal va-homer and the gezerah shavah (analogy), and added ‘etc.’ […] Perhaps Hadassi was struck by the verbal similarity of the executions with some of the norms contained in the so-called thirty-two hermeneutic rules of the Aggadah, which he reproduced in his book (58b). … But the similarity is only verbal, as can be seen from the instances given in the Hebrew source, and quoted by Hadassi himself, to illustrate the rules.”

I would here like to make a few comments regarding the twelve categories listed by Hermogenes. The first six, called “arguments,” apparently refer to the different means through which something can be specified or explained, which we today commonly list as: ‘Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?’ Clearly: who = person; what = fact; where = place; when = time; how = way; and why = cause. The next six, called “executions,” seem to refer to various ways a thesis might be supported or justified: by adducing a hypothetical or actual instance, by comparisons or by contrast.[4]

As regards Hermogenes’ list of six “arguments,” one can easily see it overlaps somewhat with Aristotle’s list of ten “categories” (substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, action, passion, position, and state). The latter is also known as “the predicables;” so the concept generating the two lists is more or less the same. Comparing the two more specifically, however, we see that though they explicitly have in common place and time, the other items are more difficult to equate. Surprisingly absent in Hermogenes’ list is any mention of quantity. As for the other items in Aristotle’s list, we might correlate them collectively with Hermogenes’ “way (manner), person, cause, [and] fact,” but this would be forcing things a bit, I think. This said in passing.

Returning to the six questions, ‘Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?’ – it should be evident that this is not an exhaustive listing. As already stated, notably lacking in it are questions of quantity, mainly ‘How much?’ and subsidiaries of it like ‘How many? How frequently? What size? How far? How soon? etc.’ The question of place ‘Where?’ may be supposed to include more specific ones like ‘At what place? In what direction? From where? Through where? To where?’ Similarly, the question of time ‘When?’ supposedly includes: ‘At what time? Since when? Till when?’ The questions of causality ‘Why? How?’ also have many forms: ‘By whose action? From what motive? For what purpose? By what means? Through what process? Under what conditions? etc.’ To these we should perhaps add questions of consequence like ‘With what effect?’ The questions ‘What? Who?’ can be taken to include: ‘What sort of thing/person is it? What constitutes it/him? What are its/his attributes? and so forth’. There are no doubt many more questions that can be asked.

As regards Lieberman’s statement that the six “arguments” of Hermogenes “have certainly nothing to do with the rabbinic rules” – I wonder if this is accurate. For a start, no one can deny that the rabbis ask the questions “Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?” (and so on) on many occasions, even if they do not identify such questions with particular rules. So even if these “arguments” have nothing to do with rabbinic rules, they do naturally have much to do with rabbinic thinking. But moreover, there are surely aspects of these six questions (or seven, if we add that of quantity) scattered in different hermeneutic principles.

The principle of binyan av (third rule in R. Ishmael’s list) is concerned with finding a factor underlying a law, so as to propose a similar law in another context having the same underlying factor; this is causal reasoning (why, how). The principles relating to inference from context, namely the exegetic methods known as heqesh and semukhim (regarded as part of rule No. 2) and those known as meinyano and misofo (twelfth rule), are based on observations of the relative locations of sentences in the proof-text (where, when). The principles relating to the scope and classification of terms, such as miklal uphrat and miprat ukhlal (fourth and fifth rules) among others, are concerned with identifying things under discussion (what, who). So a case can be made that contradicts Lieberman’s sweeping statement[5].

It is also obvious to anyone who has studied logic and rhetoric that Hermogenes’ list of six “executions” is far from exhaustive; there are many more ways a thesis might be supported or justified.

As regards Lieberman’s claim that the said “executions” and the hermeneutic principles “have only the kal va-homer and the analogy in common” – I again wonder how accurate a statement that is. It is also here evident from their practice that the rabbis used them all. In their processes of research or proof, they used possible and actual examples, comparisons to smaller, greater or equal things, and contrasts to opposite things. Such use is inevitable, since these are commonplace human thought processes. Moreover, the rabbis used these processes consciously and had names for them, even if they did not include them all in their lists of hermeneutic principles. So here again, Lieberman’s remark is a bit hasty and misleading.

Anyway, we gather from the above that both Hadassi and Lieberman equated the three items “from something smaller, from something bigger, from something equal,” to a fortiori argument (qal vachomer) and argument by analogy (gezerah shavah)[6]. Let us take it for granted. We could well read “from something smaller” to refer to a minori ad majus (miqal lechomer) and “from something bigger” to refer to a majori ad minus (michomer leqal). As regards the expression “from something equal,” it could be interpreted in two ways. It may well refer to analogy in a broad sense, if the word “equal” is intended to mean same or similar, in a more qualitative sense (i.e. as against different or dissimilar). But if “equal” is understood quantitatively, then “from something equal” would specifically refer to the a pari (egalitarian) form of a fortiori argument.

So, how we interpret the category “from something equal” depends on whether we mentally relate this term to the preceding two, quantitative terms (something smaller or bigger), or to the next, qualitative term (something opposite). Thus, it may be true that this item corresponds to the rabbinical rule of analogy or gezerah shavah; but then again it may not: it may conceivably just refer to the third (a pari) type of a fortiori argument or qal vachomer. Or maybe we should read it more vaguely as “equal quantitatively and/or qualitatively.” Perhaps the original Greek is less equivocal. In any case, it is interesting to note in passing the apparent historical fact that a 2nd century Hellenistic rhetorician, Hermogenes, listed two (or three) variants of a fortiori argument.

As regards the lists of Hillel and R. Ishmael, we must remark that both just mention qal vachomer, without making distinctions as to direction (from minor to major, or major to minor, or equal to equal). Some commentators have taken the expression qal vachomer as literally referring only to inference from minor to major. This is obviously wrong, since the rabbis do reason every which way in practice (though most often in the positive subjectal mood); but on the other hand, there may be some truth in it, for it is not evident that the rabbis were from the first consciously aware of the distinction. Lieberman, for his part, implicitly equates this rabbinic rule to at least two items (viz. “from something smaller” and “from something bigger”), if not all three.

Regarding the unidirectional term qal vachomer, I rather like the explanation put forward by Lajos Blau[7]. The latter suggested that the expression qal vachomer refers, not to the inference process ‘from minor to major’ (as commonly assumed), but to the two kinds of conclusion that may be reached, viz. either “qal” (with the minor term in the conclusion) or “chomer” (with the major term in the conclusion). If so, there was from the start no need for a ‘from major to minor’ alternative; it was always implicitly understood. That would mean the vav conjunction in qal vachomer means ‘or’ rather than ‘and’, and it is useless to switch the terms (i.e. chomer veqal would mean exactly the same thing). Blau’s idea may well be effectively true, but I would want to see textual evidence that the rabbis were always fully aware of the two possible directions of meaning.

2. Influences on rabbis

Returning to Lieberman’s article, we must now ask what the apparent points of similarity between Hermogenes’ list and the rabbinical lists signify historically. Granting that they have a fortiori argument and argument by analogy in common, does that mean the former influenced the latter, or vice versa, or perhaps that both stem from a third source text? Of course not! Granting that these are essentially natural ways of thinking for humans in general, it is not surprising to find them in two different cultural contexts, and such coincidence is not necessarily indicative of causal connection. Or, perhaps more precisely, there is already a satisfactory causal explanation in the fact of the common possession by all humans of a rational faculty; so no additional connection can be assumed offhand, i.e. without adducing further evidence.

This, of course, does not exclude the possibility that the rabbis may indeed have learned a fortiori argument and argument by analogy, and other logical techniques, from Greek logic. But the reason I doubt this thesis in general is that the rabbis were not that well-informed as regards formal logic. They do not seem to have actually studied Aristotelian or later formal logic. At best, we can assume some degree of “cultural osmosis,” since the rabbis living in Israel were, after all, part of the Hellenistic world (the Greek and Roman empires, over several centuries)[8]. On the other hand, let us not forget that the rabbis of Babylon were to a large extent (after the destruction of the Second Temple) outside that sphere of influence, in a more oriental cultural context[9]. The latter, to be sure, had itself been subject to Greek influence since Alexander’s visit in the 4th century BCE; but it must have been considerably different anyway.

Lieberman asserts: “It goes without saying that any thinking person who was acquainted with Greek logic and who heard something of the nature of rabbinical exegesis of the Bible would be inclined to associate it in some way with the former.” He does not, however, draw any definite conclusion as to causality. He quotes Eusebius, who mentioned “the logical style of the Hebrew philosophers” (Praep. Ev. 513a), but he regards him as noncommittal, admitting that “his words only suggest that the Jews had their [own] system of logic.” Lieberman’s conclusion is simply: “We can safely assert that the Jews possessed their rules of logic for the interpretation of the Bible in the second half of the first century B.C.E.” (p. 434). I thought we knew that already – well, this independently confirms what we knew.

In his 1949 paper “Rabbinic Methods of Interpretation and Hellenistic Rhetoric,” David Daube[10] boldly claimed, with reference to Hillel’s hermeneutic rules, that “rabbinic methods of interpretation derive from Hellenistic rhetoric.” According to Gary Porton, “Daube was able to show that… the rabbinic program of biblical exegesis could be viewed as part of a larger cultural phenomenon in which Jewish and non-Jewish scholars of ancient texts participated. Daube bolstered this perception by arguing that the seven exegetical principles attributed to Hillel found parallels, sometimes verbal parallels, in the Hellenistic rhetorical tradition.”

It seems clear that Lieberman’s posture is more cautious than Daube’s. Porton also wrote, concerning Lieberman’s essay here reviewed, that his “main point was that while the rabbis did not borrow their exegetical rules from the Greeks, they most likely did borrow the ‘formulation, terms, categories and systematization’ of these rules which the Greeks developed. Throughout the essay Lieberman finds the Hebrew equivalents of a number of Greek terms and phrases. Thus, by 1950 it became widely accepted that rabbinic exegetical techniques placed the rabbis squarely within the framework of Hellenistic culture.”[11] In view of our above reflections, I think that Porton’s conclusion is a bit exaggerated.

Lieberman does confirm that many of the rhetorical devices used by the rabbis for Biblical exegesis were also in common use in the surrounding non-Jewish cultures. He cites, for example, the “rearrangement of a verse” (or change of position of a word), so as to resolve a difficulty of interpretation; this is called anastrophe in Greek hermeneutics and seres (inversion) in Hebrew (pp. 438-9). Of course, the rabbis’ interpretations were not limited to such devices. Lieberman shows, for instance, the distinctive and particularly sound philological practices of the rabbis in interpreting “rare and difficult terms,” by referring to their more explicit occurrences in other Biblical contexts or to similar terms in other languages (pp. 430-1).

The more artificial techniques were especially used in aggadic (non-legal) contexts[12] (pp. 440-5). Among these Lieberman lists: “mashal, i.e. parable or allegory or symbol; paronomasia, amphiboly, i.e. playing with homonymous roots; gematria, isopsepha, i.e. computation of the numeric value of letters; substitution of letters, the so called Athbash alphabet; and notaricon,” the interpretation of a word’s letters or parts as standing for other words.[13] What is interesting is that, according to Lieberman, such devices were commonly used in the interpretation of dreams and oracles! They certainly added drama and mystery. He explains: “The cleverer the trick, the deeper the impression on the inquirer;” and cites examples from the Onirocriticon of Artemidorus, as well as rabbinic literature.

Such methods, he insists, “were invented neither by the Jews nor by the Greeks. They go back to hoary antiquity.” And he very convincingly concludes: “Had the Rabbis themselves invented these rules in their interpretations, the ‘supports’ from the Bible would be ineffective and strange to the public.” Whereas, as “instruments accepted all over the civilized world of that time,” they would be “understood and appreciated by their contemporaries.” There is much truth in that – though I wager that there were some logicians and philosophers, and possibly rabbis, who were skeptical about them anyway.

Furthermore, it must be said that most people tend to accept arguments that merely seem logical, without making any great effort to verify their validity. Sophists make a living exploiting such intellectual laziness, after all. So the mere fact of acceptance does not prove there was a sense of familiarity. Such methods may well have come down to the Jews and Greeks from their primitive common forebears, but it is not their antiquity which made them palatable. It was rather their power to mystify listeners and trick them into belief. The prestige of authority or social prominence must also not be discounted. Just as today when a university professor tells people something they do not fully understand they believe him anyway, so in those days the words of religious mavens were taken for granted uncritically.

3. Reassessment

After writing the above initial assessment, I found I still had some nagging doubt that the expression “from something smaller, from something bigger, from something equal” truly points to qal vachomer (and, according to Hadassi and Lieberman, to gezerah shavah). Why would Hermogenes have concentrated so much of his attention on a fortiori discourse, which was relatively little used in non-Jewish literature? Lieberman gives no examples or explanations from Hermogenes’ work that might shed light on this question, or even definitely confirm that he had a fortiori reasoning in mind. As a rule, experience shows, it is not sufficient to look at abstract lists – or even definitions (which are usually imperfect) – to determine people’s thoughts: we must look at concrete illustrations they give, to see whether they correctly conceptualized them.

Looking further into the matter, I did find a clue to Hermogenes’ use of “from the greater;” he gives as an example of it: “Not even if someone gave ten thousand talents, nor even cities nor whole peoples, will I take in exchange for Demosthenes” (On Invention, III, 10). I would not look upon this example as a fortiori discourse! The speaker is just saying in a poetic manner that “nothing is sufficient to ransom Demosthenes.” There is also, in the same place, an example of “from the smaller,” which reads “She is in love with an image. If she loved some man [… or] you yourself, would I not put the blame on you?” Also an example of “from similarities”: “For if she was not in love but had contracted some other disease in the body, would I not then too bring you to trial?” I cannot claim to understand what these two examples are about, but they certainly do not look like a fortiori arguments to me! It follows that the said expressions need not always (if ever) refer to a fortiori discourse.[14]

Furthermore, I asked myself why Hermogenes had limited his list of “executions” to just the said six processes. Greek logic knew of a great many more ways of supporting or proving a thesis. To ask the most obvious question: where should syllogism, i.e. the basic mental process of classification, be placed in his list? In truth, Hermogenes dealt with much more than the “twelve arguments and executions” in his works. In my opinion, Lieberman should certainly have looked more deeply into them, and not limited himself to Hadassi’s findings. In any case, Hermogenes’ approach seems to be essentially that of a rhetorician, rather than a jurist. Although rhetoricians do show some concern with legal matters, their interest seems to be primarily in how to win litigations rather than in truth and justice. They write guidelines for orators and lawyers, rather than for lawmakers and judges. Their thinking is therefore more often sophistical than logical.

4. Cicero

Then it occurred to me: why fixate on Hermogenes? Were there not more important Hellenistic writers in the Talmudic period than him? Furthermore, why refer to such a late writer (2nd century CE)? Why not, for instance, rather focus on the earlier and more important Cicero? We can surely through the latter`s writings find many interesting parallels between Roman and rabbinic legal thinking. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-46 BCE) was, after all, a contemporary of Hillel the Elder (110 BCE – 10 CE) to whom tradition attributes the first rabbinic list of hermeneutic principles. It is not unthinkable that Hillel heard of Cicero’s work, even if he did not personally study it. There was at the time very probably some intellectual as well as other commerce between their countries. Although famous as an orator, Cicero was a thoughtful jurist, as his work Topics[15] testifies. There he writes:

“8. … Of the topics under which arguments are included, some are inherent in the very nature of the subject which is under discussion, and others are brought in from without. Inherent in the nature of the subject are arguments derived from the whole, from its parts, from its meaning, and from the things which are in some way closely connected with the subject which is being investigated. Arguments from external circumstances are those that are removed and widely separated from the subject….

11. Arguments are also drawn from circumstances closely connected with the subject which is under inquiry. But this class has many subdivisions. For we call some arguments ‘conjugate,’ others we derive from genus, species, similarity, difference, contraries, adjuncts, antecedents, consequents, contradictions, cause, effect, and comparison with events of greater, less or equal importance.”

He then discusses in some detail all the arguments he lists, giving examples from Roman law practices. Just looking at this list of “topics,” one can easily anticipate numerous parallels to the rabbinic midot, some of which may be close, while others are doubtless very loose. For instance, Cicero defines the term “conjugate” as referring to “arguments based on words of the same family” (§12); this seems to me very similar to the rabbinic gezerah shavah argument which proceeds by verbal analogy. Likewise, the topic “comparison with events of greater, less or equal importance” obviously (see §23 and 68-71) corresponds to a fortiori argument, i.e. the rabbinic qal vachomer rule[16]. However, we should note in the present context that there is no mention in Cicero’s account, in whatever terminology, of the distinction between purely a fortiori argument and a crescendo argument. The issue of proportionality is simply not raised.

There is also no mention by him here of a restriction that could be equated to the rabbinical dayo (sufficiency) principle, which appears in Jewish legal discourse at the latest at the time R. Tarfon was active, i.e. roughly in 70-135 CE. However, Roman law seems to have had a very similar principle, although I do not know as of when it made its appearance. Therefore, I cannot say whether Cicero was aware of it, even if he does not mention it. If it existed in Roman law during his lifetime, it is safe to assume that he knew about it. The Roman law principle was: “In poenis bensignior est interpretatio facienda,” which means: in penalties, the more benign interpretation is to be applied.[17]

As regards the a fortiori argument, we should not look upon the contemporaneity of Hillel and Cicero as indicative of any significant influence of the one upon the other or vice versa. Hillel’s awareness of the argument was without doubt due primarily to its use within the Tanakh; and Cicero’s awareness was without doubt due to its use and discussion in Greek and Roman literature, notably in Aristotle’s Topics and Rhetoric. Note moreover that the written Torah, however it is dated, certainly existed many centuries before the earliest Greek literature. It is conceivable that Hillel vaguely heard of Cicero or vice versa; but it is very doubtful that either of them greatly affected the thinking of the other; each existed in his own cultural bubble, subject to distinct intellectual roots. The fact that a fortiori argument arose in both cultures does not prove a causal connection between them, but may be explained as due to the common basic rationality of all human beings.

Looking beyond the a fortiori argument, we should not expect a great deal of parallelism between rabbinic and Greek and Roman legal hermeneutics, in view of a fundamental difference between the three legal systems. Rabbinic thinking is strongly tied to religious proof-texts, that is to say, to texts to which most if not all proofs must ultimately come down to, and to a lesser extent to traditions, common perceptions and conventions. The main proof-text is of course the Torah, i.e. the Five Books of Moses; next in importance comes the Nakh, the collection of Prophets and Writings; thirdly, come the Mishna and other authoritative sources of the same period; fourthly, rabbis must refer to the Gemara and other authoritative sources of the same period; fifth, to the early post-Talmudic rabbis, the Rishonim; sixth, to the later rabbis, the Acharonim[18].

So rabbinic thinking is essentially deductive in its orientation, even if it contains many inductive movements of thought. Or to put things another way: rabbinic thinking is indeed largely inductive rather than purely deductive in form (i.e. it involves generalization, adduction, etc.); but the term ‘inductive’ here should not be taken to connote empiricism in the strict sense, for the data base it refers to is not as in the case of scientific thought the full range of sensory and introspective material but mainly the information encapsulated in Jewish Scriptures and later Jewish commentaries thereon, much of which is far from empirical. Note that the reference to past religious literature and oral tradition is compulsory, and not merely voluntary.

In Greek and Roman law, on the other hand, while there is also some adherence to religious proof-texts and various traditions, this is not the defining feature. There is a far greater appeal to ‘nature’, as perceived by people of the time, i.e. to common-sense (which may, to be sure, include many unconscious prejudices, such as the belief in the superiority of the ruling classes over the plebeian class), and of course to arbitrary decisions by the rulers (in defense of their own interests). Such a context calls for more inductive, i.e. trial and error, forms of thought. Thus, rabbinic legal hermeneutics are mostly concerned with drawing information from the applicable proof-texts, i.e. interpreting them or using them for further expansion of the law. Whereas, Greek and Roman legal hermeneutics are basically concerned with the world at large, society and human nature, as they appeared to be in the eyes of the people concerned. This basic difference would explain many differences in the hermeneutics used.

Another preliminary observation we must make is that comparisons to Judaic hermeneutics should not be limited to explicit lists such as Hillel’s or R. Ishmael’s, but should range far and wide and consider all thought processes actually used by the rabbis. In this context, we might for instance refer to Louis Jacobs’ brilliant essay “The Talmudic Argument” (1984), where he identifies nineteen “formal types or patterns” of Talmudic arguments (see also the corresponding footnotes, where he gives the Hebrew or Aramaic phrases that distinguish these arguments), namely:

“Argument from authority; argument by comparison; argument by differentiation; either/or argument; on the contrary argument; acceptance of an argument in part; argument based on an opponent’s position; argument exposing the flaws in an opponent’s argument; argument based on historical or geographical conditions; argument based on the analysis of states of mind; readmission of an argument that has been previously rejected; argument against a statement of the obvious; argument to resolve a contradiction between sources; argument by textual emendation; argument from the principle of literary economy; different versions of an argument; argument presented by different teachers; consequences of different arguments; limited application of an argument.”

I will not myself here even attempt to compare Cicero’s presentation of the principles of legal reasoning in Roman jurisprudence to Hillel’s and other lists concerning Jewish law – for two reasons. Firstly, such research is beyond the scope of the present work, which is essentially concerned specifically with a fortiori reasoning (and this we have already dealt with above). Secondly, because I think this job would best be done by a jurist, i.e. someone who would understand the legal issues involved better than a mere logician like me might. It is possible that someone has already done this job. There may be many parallels or there may not be. Either finding would be interesting. If there are many parallels, we can say that the two legal systems have some significant common epistemological roots even if they eventually diverge in their concrete laws. If there are few parallels, we can conclude that they differ both in their approaches and in their results.

In any case, I think I have said enough here to show that Lieberman’s approach here[19], based on Hadassi’s earlier research, which focused specifically on Hermogenes, is not the most interesting route for us to follow. Certainly, Cicero would be a more fruitful subject of particular study. We have, for instances, found much clearer parallels in the latter’s work to rabbinical qal vachomer and gezerah shavah. But ultimately, of course, all such relevant literary sources ought to be investigated, so that our conclusions are based on the full sweep of history, and perhaps a time line can be established for each item. Moreover, we should avoid drawing radical or sweeping conclusions, however entertaining they may be, and aim for scientific exactitude, however pedestrian it may seem.



[1] Originally published in: Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1950.)

[2] P. 124b. Book written in Constantinople, starting in 1148. He proposed, in this work, sixty grammatical rules and eighty exegetical rules.

[3] In his “peri evreseos (III.7).” Presumably this refers to Hermogenes of Tarsus (fl. 2nd century CE). It is interesting to note he is classified as a sophist.

[4] Said in passing, in today’s speech we would rather call the “arguments” questions and the “executions” arguments.

[5] Note that the questions ‘why, how, where, when, what, who’ that I have in this paragraph apposed in pairs next to the rules of causal, contextual and classificatory inference are only intended as rough indications., For instance, causal inference is most obviously conceptually related to why and how; but it is also true that some binyan av are constructed in relation to where, when, what or who. Similarly, contextual inference is not limited to where or when, and classificatory inference is not limited to what or who. Much depends on the angle of vision.

[6] Lieberman claims the Greek translation of these two terms to be: apo meizonos kai elattou and apo syncriseos pros ison (p. 435).

[7] See: “Die hermeneutische Analogie in der talmudischen Litteratur par Adolf Schwarz” (Vienna, 1897), in: Revue des Études Juives, Tome 36e. Paris: Durlacher, 1898. Pp. 150-159.

[8] R. Ishmael, who authored the list of 13 hermeneutic principles, sojourned as a captive in Rome (or thereabouts) for a while (how long is not said) in his youth, until he was ransomed by Yehoshua ben Chananiah and brought back to Israel. Some rabbis sojourned in Alexandria, which was of course more subject to Hellenism than the Holy Land. For instance, the Tanna R. Yochanan Hasandlar (3rd century CE), a disciple of R. Akiva. The mere fact that some Greek words appear in the Mishna and Talmud of the Land of Israel is indicative of some influence. Nevertheless, the fact that the rabbis strongly despised Hellenism could well have totally prevented significant influence.

[9] Including not only strictly Babylonian influences, but later on (when Babylon came under Persian hegemony) also Persian influences. Maybe there were even, through the latter, trickles of influence from further east, i.e. from India. Note that the Babylonian Talmud contains some words of Babylonian and Persian origin. We can also point to interest in angels, demons, sorcery, etc. as obviously influenced by regional beliefs.

[10] Regarding comments by Daube specifically on qal vachomer, see the section devoted to him in a later chapter (30.5).

[12] Though they also sometimes appear in halakhic contexts, in the way of allusion, zekher la-davar, and support, asmakhta (p. 437).

[13] Note that the Hebrew terms gematria and notaricon are obviously of Greek origin.

[14] Hermogenes is here discussing “hypodiaresis” – whatever that means. See p. 111 of the edition used. A copy of this page may be found online at: books.google.com/books?id=1QPpgorkLKIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=hermogenes+inventions&hl=en&ei=eZR8TeioJon14Qa06OikBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22from the smaller%22&f=false.

[15] Topica. Trans. H. M. Hubble. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard UP, 1949. The full text of this book in Latin, with an English translation, may be read online at: www.scribd.com/doc/45159491/Cicero-Topica.

[16] Note here that the “equal” definitely refers to the a pari variant of a fortiori argument, whereas there was a doubt with regard to that term’s intent in Hermogenes.

[17] This was found by Wiseman (p. 165). The reference he gives is: Digest of Justinian, no 49, in Albert Gautier, Introduction to Roman Law for Studies in Canon Law, (Rome: Faculty of Canon Law, St. Thomas University, 1994), page 154.

[18] The distinction between earlier and later authorities is made relative to the publication in the mid-16th cent. of the authoritative code of law called the Shulchan Arukh.

[19] I am of course aware that Saul Lieberman was a high-level scholar. My concern here is with this one paper, not with all his works. It is possible that he wrote a lot more on this subject in other papers or books.

2016-06-14T04:54:09+00:00