Jewish Arguments

“Judaism is unusual in that virtually all its canonical texts are woven through with arguments. In the Bible, Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah and Job all argue extensively with God. In Midrash, rabbis argue with one another on the basis of the principle that there are seventy ‘faces’ or interpretations of every text. In the Mishnah the rabbis argue about Jewish law and in the Gemara they argue about the arguments of the Mishnah. Every later text comes with its commentaries and counter-commentaries. In the twelfth century Moses Maimonides did the most daring thing of all: he wrote a code of law with all the arguments removed. This generated more arguments than any other text for the next eight hundred years until today. Other people have conversations. Jews have arguments.”

Morality, Chapter 13, p. 191