Conference Proceeding: The Talmud in Korean: Rabbinic Literature as Children's Literature

This paper tells the story of the reception of rabbinic literature in South Korea, where a series of books titled Talmud (T'almudŭ) appears on best-seller lists and suggested reading lists for elementary school students, fills university library stacks, and has become the topic of national and diplomatic conversations. Based on a close analysis of dozens of volumes published between 1979 and 2016, we examine the different sub-genres that have been produced, individual editions that exemplify the development and diversity of the editions, and the religious traditions – Jewish, Confucian, and Christian – with which these books engage and that they ultimately merge. The presentation will focus especially on the collection of children's editions of the Talmud, including cartoon Talmuds and prenatal Talmuds; the transformation of Jewish narratives and values for use by children in a Korean context; and the role that these books play in the South Korean educational landscape.