Building on Bernard Jackson’s influential application of semiotics to the field of biblical law, Daniel Reifman’s essay “Semiotics and the Nature of Rabbinic Legal Discourse” (JQR 110.1) offers a foray into a semiotic approach to the study of rabbinic law, exploring the potential of this approach for legal theory more broadly. He takes as his case casuistic rabbinic law and the very concrete terms and exemplars it addresses.
A JQR Blog post
Disaster not only alters the horizon of meaning for those who experience it but also leaves indelible traces on the lexicon. How can old words navigate the new and radically discordant? Language struggles to keep up. Words and expressions are coined or reused and the new collective argot in turn allows previously unimaginable things to become assimilable.
Update: this issue is free online without a subscription through June 30, 2020.
JQR 110.1 is now available, online* and in print.
In this issue:
Daniel Reifman uses semiotic theory to account for the fact that legal rationales play a relatively peripheral role in the construction of rabbinic legal discourse.