Spring 2018, 48.1, pages 28-48
Paths of Virtue: Legal Rhetorics in Judaism and Islam
Abstract: The historical relationship between Judaism and Islam has been the subject of scholarly inquiry for decades. Until recently, however, this fourteen-century-old relationship has gone unremarked on by theorists and historians of rhetoric. In this article, I explore the interconnectivities between legal rhetoric in Judaism and Islam. Looking at the Nicomachaean Ethics and Chaim Perelman’s analysis of rhetoric, justice, and law, I first investigate how, like Aristotle, Jewish and Muslim jurists link virtuousness to obedience to the law. Then, I show how sharia and halakha, Islamic and Jewish law, use rhetoric and systematic argumentation to articulate the place of law in the lives of Muslims and Jews. Finally, using the medieval Mamluk Sultanate and the Geniza community as the basis of a comparatist rhetorical analysis, I demonstrate the lived interconnectedness of Judeo-Muslim legal rhetorics pertaining to marriage, divorce, and the juristic agency of medieval Mediterranean women.