Understanding Rabbinic Judaism, from Talmudic to Modern Times

Front Cover
Jacob Neusner
KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 1974 - 422 pages
What do we mean by "rabbinic civilization"? Why do we claim that the widely separated and culturally diverse Jewish communities of the past eighteen centuries together constitute an essentially harmonious expression of a single set of values and ideals, so as to be accurately characterized as a distinctive 'civilization' among mankind? The answer is that nearly the whole of world Jewry from Talmudic times to the nineteenth century in the West, and to the Holocaust in the East, and a large part of world Jewry today -- nearly the whole of the Orthodox sector -- share a single, far-ranging and inclusive view of life and way of living. That view is built upon a single symbol, "Torah," articulated in a disciplined way, and interprets everyday affairs and historical events alike in terms of a single symbol, "Torah." The pervasive and universal presence of "Torah," the proximate uniformity of the institutions -- the rabbi, the synagogue, the law -- which expressed and embodied that symbol the widespread acceptance of the authority of those institutions and the meaningfulness of that symbol -- these together justify our characterizing the Jews as living a single mode of life, constituting a unique civilization. And since the rabbi and the Torah were at the center of that civilization, we call it "rabbinic."--Introduction.

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Contents

Introduction
5
THE TALMUDIC HERITAGE
20
Torah and Talmudic Judaism
27
Talmudic Theology
37
PART II
51
Authenticity in Rabbinic Judaism
61
Rabbinic Writings
71
The People and the Law
83
The Quintessential Rabbi
185
From Philosophy to Mysticism
213
The Mystic Way
243
The Inner Life of Rabbinic Mysticism
277
Mysticism and Ethics
301
Mysticism and Torah
315
PART VI
333
Moses Sofer
339

MASTERS OF THE
97
The Master
117
PART IV
129
Medieval Jewish Theology
135
The Rabbinic Philosopher as Statesman
147
The Rabbinic Philosopher and Israels Destiny
173
Reform through Tradition
353
Bibliography on Judaism from Talmudic to Modern Times
383
A Teachers Afterword
403
Index
412
Copyright

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About the author (1974)

Jacob Neusner was born in Hartford, Connecticut on July 28, 1932. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University in 1953. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi and received a master's degree in Hebrew letters in 1960. He also received a doctorate in religion from Columbia University. He taught at Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University of South Florida before joining the religion department at Bard College in 1994. He retired from there in 2014. He was a religious historian and one of the world's foremost scholars of Jewish rabbinical texts. He published more than 900 books during his lifetime including A Life of Yohanan ben Zakkai; The Way of Torah: An Introduction to Judaism; Judaism: The Evidence of the Mishnah; Strangers at Home: The 'Holocaust,' Zionism, and American Judaism; Translating the Classics of Judaism: In Theory and in Practice; Why There Never Was a 'Talmud of Caesarea': Saul Lieberman's Mistakes; and Judaism: An Introduction. He wrote The Bible and Us: A Priest and a Rabbi Read Scripture Together with Andrew M. Greeley and A Rabbi Talks with Jesus with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. He also edited and translated, with others, nearly the entirety of the Jewish rabbinical texts. He died on October 8, 2016 at the age of 84.

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