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Several years ago, at one of those pleasant dinners during academic conferences where old friends and colleagues get a chance to reconnect and catch up, I found myself in an unexpected imbroglio over a book which, I later realized, represented a shot fired over the bow by "textual reasoning.
Textual reasoning in Boyarin's hands begins to hint at the possible academic legitimacy of a different way of reading the Bible.
However, if I am correct in my reading of Boyarin, and of the project of textual reasoning his work represents, then we are not dealing here with something analogous to disagreements among historians.
Before proceeding directly to describe salient characteristics of textual reasoning, a word about its roots may be in order.
What we now call textual reasoning in Jewish studies and Jewish thought arose from the relatively recent confluence of two intellectual currents: a group of original and challenging thinkers located mostly, though not exclusively, in France and Germany, and American scholars researching various aspects of Judaism.
The third sets out some of the specific phenomena, within this region, which textual reasoning seeks out and studies.
Textual reasoning refuses to view later texts which grow up in response to earlier texts as extraneous or heterogeneous to those earlier texts.
Textual reasoning resists academic or philosophical discourses which seek to homogenize, or to reduce, the many diverse features which constitute textuality.
Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, scholars in the textual reasoning camp are just beginning to catalog and identify the specific reading practices through which Jewish tradition generates and legitimates its unique multiplicity of meanings.
A] The hermeneutic dimension of textual reasoning can be found in the distinctive interpretive techniques and strategies that traditional reading practices employ in order to read texts.