How Do You Say "Pirkey Avot" in English?

The title of the Mishnaic tractate is commonly translated as “The Ethics of the Fathers.” But how did it get that name? And could “fathers” actually mean “principles,” and “ethics” mean “sayings”?


From a medieval manuscript of Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnaic tractate Pirkey Avot. Library of Congress.
From a medieval manuscript of Maimonides’ commentary on the Mishnaic tractate Pirkey Avot. Library of Congress.
Observation
Jan. 25 2017
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Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


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