Synopses & Reviews
Rabbi Chananya ben Teradyon was burned alive by the Romans around 1800 years ago, and according to contemporary Jewish bioethicists this story supports condoning or condemning euthanasia. This work investigates this bioethical practice of invoking a(n ancient) narrative to make a (modern) norm. It is complicated because there are multiple versions of Chananya's demise in the Judaic textual tradition, and these stories are both content-wise ambiguous and normatively ambivalent. Extracting or establishing a norm based on this narrative is therefore methodologically, philosophically and bioethically fraught. Yet insofar as Jewish bioethicsts continue to look to the Judaic textual tradition for guidance when creating modern norms, what role can such narratives have in this endeavor? Narratives and Jewish Bioethics searches for answers to this critical, if not potentially lethal, question. No other volume examines this classic story in all its variants or how it is utilized in contemporary bioethical discourse; and none offers sustained scholarship on narratives in Jewish bioethics generally. Through careful textual reading of both ancient and modern tracts, this project endeavors to revitalize a dying story.
Modern Jewish debate about euthanasia regularly pivots on interpretations of the Talmudic story of Rabbi Chananya ben Teryadon being burned alive by the Romans sometime in the second century. Though many modern bioethicists say this fiery story presents a clear and precise position on euthanasia, the narrative itself is more complicated and ambiguous. The implications of this disconnect between the story as it is and how bioethicists read it are problematic for patients, the Jewish textual tradition, and for modern bioethics as a whole. Applying fresh critical analysis to this tale, Jonathan Crane traces the fascinating and challenging story of narratives and norms in modern Jewish bioethics. The result is an unprecedented examination of the impact of a classic story in all its variants, and of narrative in general, on contemporary bioethical discourse.
About the Author
Jonathan K. Crane is the Raymond F. Schinazi Junior Scholar of Bioethics and Jewish Thought at Emory University's Center for Ethics.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas
Chapter One. Genesis of Jewish Bioethics
Chapter Two. Narratives, Norms, and Deadly Complications
Chapter Three. A Dying Story: Told and Retold
Chapter Four. Living to Die: Theo-Political Interpretations
Chapter Five. Dying to Die: Bioethical Interpretations
Chapter Six. Salvaging Stories in and for Jewish Bioethics