The Talmud: What It Is and What It Says

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9780742546714: The Talmud: What It Is and What It Says

Wherever Jews have settled and whatever languages they spoke, they created a community with a single set of common values. One law, one theology defined the community throughout their many migrations. A single book explains how this came about―the Talmud. By re-framing the Torah through sustained argument and analysis, the Talmud encourages the reader to actively apply reason and practice logic.

Renowned scholar Jacob Neusner introduces readers to the Talmud, defining it, explaining its historical context, and illustrating why it remains relevant today. Neusner's The Talmud: What It Is and What It Says invites readers to engage with the text, and emphasizes that the Talmud will continue to be an important cultural guidebook for Jewish life through the next millennium.

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About the Author:

Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Theology and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. He is also a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, and Life Member of Clare Hall at Cambridge University, England. He has published numerous books with University Press of America on Jewish studies, particularly Rabbinic Judaism.

From Publishers Weekly:

Neusner, author or editor of nearly a thousand books (yes, you read that correctly), is a renowned Jewish scholar who has devoted his impressive career to the study of Judaism. His documentary studies of classical texts include valuable translations of both the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmuds. Here, he sets out to provide a primer to the Talmud in seven chapters that discuss "fundamental questions" of history, literature and religion. Although a primer is commonly perceived as a simple, introductory book on a subject, what Neusner has produced here is a complex analysis that requires painstaking attention. As he explains, the Talmud consists of the Mishnah, a systematic codification of the oral law, and the Gemara, rabbinic commentaries, including disputes about the law. Extensive quotations, elaborated by the author, illustrate the Talmudic discussions. A final chapter, "How Does the Talmud Present God?" confronts the vexed question of theodicy—why does a just God allow evil? Neusner cites a Talmudic answer that envisions "resurrection of the dead at the end of days" and "eternal life." Assiduous readers of all faiths will benefit from this introduction to the Talmud as a "cookbook of culture composed of recipes for sustaining civilization." (Aug. 28)
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