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Who Studied at the Beit Midrash?: Funding Palestinian Amoraic Education

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Author: Susan Marks1
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  • 1 Professor of Judaic Studies/Klingenstein Chair, New College of Florida10648Sarasota, FLUSA
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Abstract

The house of study of Amoraic Palestine has resisted study because of its informality. By situating it alongside Hellenistic, Roman and Christian education, this article argues that examining their funding provides a means of understanding the structural tendencies of these study circles. Communal support appears mostly aspirational, providing clues as to intention and conflicts regarding inclusion. Similarly, narratives concerning individual gifts urge their moral good rather than their reliability, thus pointing inevitably to fees as the underlying means of support for the beit midrash. The necessity of fees in turn demands consideration of how those of more marginal means, including scribes, could afford this tuition. Finally, that teaching younger children provided one avenue of such support reveals a complex interdependency of those who had easier access to this education and those who had less access, as well as the barely glimpsed suggestion of other educational alternatives.

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