Reading Talmudic Sources as Arguments: A New Interpretive Approach elucidates the unique characteristics of Talmudic discourse culture. Approaching Talmudic literature from a linguistic perspective, the book shows the extensive and hidden ways in which later rabbis used early formulations. Applying Quentin Skinner's interpretive question “What was the author doing in composing the text in this particular way?" to Talmudic literature reveals that Talmudic debate is not only about ideas, concepts and laws but also about the latter's connection to pre-existing formulations. These early traditions, rather than only being accepted or not, are used by later generations to build their own arguments. The book articulates the function of tradition at the time that Rabbinic Judaism was forged.
Author: Marc Michaels
In A Critical Edition, Commentary and Reconstruction of Two 10th/11th Century Manuscripts of Parts of Sefer Tagin from the Cairo Genizah, Marc Michaels transcribes and recreates fragments of arguably the earliest found manuscript of the manual for sofrim (scribes) concerning the decorative tagin (tittles) and 'strange' letter forms that adorn certain words in the Torah. Comparing these found fragments from the Cairo Genizah that now reside in the Taylor-Schechter Cairo Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library against the other core and secondary sources of Sefer Tagin (including several pages of a new secondary source also from Cambridge), Michaels establishes the most likely readings to assist the reconstruction of the fragments and shed light on the original intention of the author of Sefer Tagin.
Editors: Zvi Stampfer and Amir Ashur
The articles in this volume focus on the legal, linguistic, historical and literary roles of Jewish women in the Islamic world of the Middle Ages. Drawing heavily on manuscript evidence from the Cairo Genizah, the authors examine the challenges involved in the identification and interpretation of women’s letters from medieval Egypt, the registers of women’s written language, the relations between Jewish women and the Muslim legal system, the conversion of women, visions of women in Hell and gendered readings in the aggadic tradition of Judaism.
Jewish Community, Religion, and Family in Early Modern Metz
In Law’s Dominion, Jay Berkovitz offers a novel approach to the history of early modern Jewry. Set in the city of Metz, on the Moselle river, this study of a vibrant prerevolutionary community draws on a wide spectrum of legal sources that tell a story about community, religion, and family that has not been told before.
Focusing on the community’s leadership, public institutions, and judiciary, this study challenges the assumption that Jewish life was in a steady state of decline before the French Revolution. To the contrary, the evidence reveals a robust community that integrated religious values and civic consciousness, interacted with French society, and showed remarkable signs of collaboration between Jewish law and the French judicial system.

In Law’s Dominion, Jay Berkovitz has gathered and meticulously mined a dazzling array of rich and complex rabbinic texts and records from Western Europe during the early modern period, including the pinkas of the rabbinic court of Metz that he previously rescued from oblivion. What emerges is a remarkably fresh depiction and incisive comparative treatment of central aspects of Jewish law, religion and family, which will have far-reaching ramifications for all future studies in these disciplines.
-Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature, and Law at Yeshiva University
Trading Routes and the Development of Commercial Law
Migrating Words, Migrating Merchants, Migrating Law examines the connections that existed between merchants’ journeys, the languages they used and the development of commercial law in the context of late medieval and early modern trade. The book, edited by Stefania Gialdroni, Albrecht Cordes, Serge Dauchy, Dave De ruysscher and Heikki Pihlajamäki, takes advantage of the expertise of leading scholars in different fields of study, in particular historians, legal historians and linguists. Thanks to this transdisciplinary approach, the book offers a fresh point of view on the history of commercial law in different cultural and geographical contexts, including medieval Cairo, Pisa, Novgorod, Lübeck, early modern England, Venice, Bruges, nineteenth century Brazil and many other trading centers.

Contributors are Cornelia Aust, Guido Cifoletti, Mark R. Cohen, Albrecht Cordes, Maria Fusaro, Stefania Gialdroni, Mark Häberlein, Uwe Israel, Bart Lambert, David von Mayenburg, Hanna Sonkajärvi, and Catherine Squires.
Diskurse zur sozialen Bedeutung von Tischgemeinschaft, Speiseverboten und Reinheitsvorschriften
In Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum untersucht Christina Eschner die Auseinandersetzungen zum jüdischen Gesetz innerhalb des Urchristentums vor dem Hintergrund vergleichbarer Diskurse im antiken Judentum. Ziel ist es, die urchristliche Praxis des Gesetzes in ihrem größeren Kontext darzustellen und ihr gegebenenfalls einen bestimmten Platz im facettenreichen Bild der zeitgenössischen jüdischen Strömungen zuzuweisen. Dabei finden Schriften aus Qumran, dem griechischsprachigen und dem rabbinischen Judentum Berücksichtigung. Der Fokus liegt auf Vorschriften zu verbotenen Speisen, zur Tischgemeinschaft und zur erlaubten Art und Weise der Nahrungsaufnahme. Auch pagane Traditionen werden einbezogen. Damit ist diese Studie besonders interdisziplinär ausgerichtet. Sie bewegt sich an der Schnittstelle zwischen Themenfeldern der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft, der Altphilologie, der Alten Geschichte und der Judaistik. Sie kommt zu dem Ergebnis, dass die urchristlichen Diskurse zum Essen nicht auf eine vollständige Abschaffung der entsprechenden jüdischen Gesetzesanordungen zielen.

In Essen im antiken Judentum und Urchristentum Christina Eschner examines the Early Christian disputes about the Jewish law against the background of Ancient Jewish discourses on commands of the law, in order to situate the Early Christian practice of the law within its broader context. Jewish sources include the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jewish writings in Greek and early rabbinic texts. This study focusses on rules concerning prohibited food, table fellowship and the permissible way of food intake. Pagan traditions are also considered. Thus, the work has an interdisciplinary orientation, discussing issues at the junction of New Testament studies, Classics, Ancient History and Jewish studies. It concludes that Early Christian food discourses do not aim for the complete abolition of the law.
Papers from the Ninth Meeting of the International Organisation for Qumran Studies, Leuven 2016
Reflecting the increasing recognition of the importance of legal texts and issues in early Judaism, the essays in this collection examine halakhic and rule texts found at Qumran in light of the latest scholarship on text production, social organization, and material culture in early Judaism. The contributors present new interpretations of long-lived topics, such as the sobriquet “seekers of the smooth things,” the Treatise of the Two Spirits, and 4QMMT, and take up new approaches to purity issues, the role of the maśkil, and the Temple Scroll. The volume exemplifies the range of ways in which the Qumran legal texts help illuminate early Jewish culture as a whole.
Author: Jonathan Vroom
In The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism, Vroom identifies a development in the authority of written law that took place in early Judaism. Ever since Assyriologists began to recognize that the Mesopotamian law collections did not function as law codes do today—as a source of binding obligation—scholars have grappled with the question of when the Pentateuchal legal corpora came to be treated as legally binding. Vroom draws from legal theory to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the nature of legal authority, and develops a methodology for identifying instances in which legal texts were treated as binding law by ancient interpreters. This method is applied to a selection of legal-interpretive texts: Ezra-Nehemiah, Temple Scroll, the Qumran rule texts, and the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Sources and Interpretation in Ancient Judaism: Studies for Tal Ilan at Sixty, a collection of studies by 14 scholars, is designed to honor an outstanding scholar in the field of Ancient Judaism, Tal Ilan. These studies reflect realms within the broad field of Ancient Judaism that are central to Ilan’s scholarship: Second Temple literary sources and history, Gender, Jewish papyrology and rabbinic literature. The studies within this volume are of an interdisciplinary nature, offering new readings and interpretations of known sources such as Josephus and rabbinic texts, but also introducing the reader to an entirely new body of sources, namely Jewish papyri. The volume therefore aims to introduce specialists and non-specialists to new fields of research.
The Unique Perspective of the Bavli on Conversion and the Construction of Jewish Identity
Author: Moshe Lavee
In this volume, Moshe Lavee offers an account of crucial internal developments in the rabbinic corpus, and shows how the Babylonian Talmud dramatically challenged and extended the rabbinic model of conversion to Judaism. The history of conversion to Judaism has long fascinated Jews along a broad ideological continuum. This book demonstrates the rabbis in Babylonia further reworked former traditions about conversion in ever more stringent direction, shifting the focus of identity demarcation towards genealogy and bodily perspectives. By applying a reading-strategy that emphasizes late Babylonian literary developments, Lavee sheds critical light on a broader discourse regarding the nature and boundaries of Jewish identity.