This paper is an attempt to understand the construction and redac- tion of this tractate through the study of these dialogue-stories and their context.6 It will demonstrate sensitivity to genre and aesthetics in explor- ing questions of higher criticism. Additionally, I explicate the role of the dialogues as a stylistic and rhetorical device in the shaping of tractate Avodah Zarah. This will be a three-fold process. First, I read the dia- logues as “stories.”7 Next, I examine them in light of the collections of mishnayot into which they are embedded. Finally, I present a reevalua- tion of the place of these dialogues in the overall textual structure of the tractate.