The study of different literary elements in rabbinic literature must be sensitive to the different philological strata of this great corpus. It is not that the rhetorical excludes the historical, or vice versa, but rather that rhetoric, including rabbinic rhetoric, always has its own history.

Azzan Yadin, “The Hammer on the Rock: Polysemy and the School of Rabbi Ishmael,” Jewish Quarterly Review 10:1 (2003), 17.