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In Sirach and Its Contexts an international cohort of experts on the book of Sirach locate this second-century BCE Jewish wisdom text in its various contexts: literary, historical, philosophical, textual, cultural, and political. First compiled by a Jewish sage around 185 BCE, this instruction enjoyed a vibrant ongoing reception history through the middle ages up to the present, resulting in a multiform textual tradition as it has been written, rewritten, transmitted, and studied. Sirach was not composed as a book in the modern sense but rather as an ongoing stream of tradition. Heretofore studied largely in confessional settings as part of the Deuterocanonical literature, this volume brings together essays that take a broadly humanistic approach, in order to understand what an ancient wisdom text can teach us about the pursuit of wisdom and human flourishing.
Jerusalem and Other Holy Places as Foci of Multireligious and Ideological Confrontation brings together the papers that were read at an international conference at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem in May 2018. The contributions to this volume develop a multi-disciplinary perspective on holy places and their development, rhetorical force, and oft-contested nature. Through a particular focus on Jerusalem, this volume demonstrates the variety in the study of holy places, as well as the flexibility of geographic and historical aspects of holiness.
The Judeo-Persian Rendition of the Buddha Biographies
The Prince and the Sufi is the literary composition of the seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian poet Elisha ben Shmūel. In The Prince and the Sufi: The Judeo-Persian Rendition of the Buddha Biographies, Dalia Yasharpour provides a thorough analysis of this popular work to show how the Buddha's life story has undergone substantial transformation with the use of Jewish, Judeo-Persian and Persian-Islamic sources. The annotated edition of the text and the corresponding English translation are meticulous and insightful. This scholarly study makes available to readers an important branch in the genealogical tree of the Buddha Biographies.
The Textual History of the Bible (THB) brings together for the first time all available information regarding the manuscripts, textual history and character of each book of the Hebrew Bible and its translations as well as the deuterocanonical scriptures. In addition, THB covers the history of research, the editorial history of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its subsidiary fields, such as papyrology, codicology, and the related discipline of linguistics. The THB will consist of 4 volumes.

Volume 2: Deuterocanonical Scriptures. Editors Matthias Henze and Frank Feder
Vol. 2A: overview articles
Vol. 2B: to Ezra
Vol. 2C: Jubilees to 16 Appendix
Author: Isaac Kalimi

Abstract

This study discusses the centrality of the book of Psalms among the Jews and in Judaism. It outlines the seven most important and influential rabbinic exegetical works on Psalms, in the period before and during the medieval age: Targum Psalms and Midrash Psalms Shocher Tov, from some time in the Talmudic period; and five prominent medieval commentaries: Saadia Gaon, Moses haCohen ibn Gikatilla, Rashi, Abraham ibn Ezra, and David Kimchi. I briefly introduce each interpretative work and focus on selected aspects: The commentators’ distinct exegetical methods, their approaches to the questions of the authorship and genre of Psalms, and polemics with inside (e.g., Karaites) and outside (e.g., Christians) opponents. The result is to analysis and synthesis their approaches and to show the various trends that rabbinic Psalms interpretation took in these periods.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism
Author: Refael Furman

Abstract

This study identifies similar sociological patterns connected with identity issues in the biblical prophetic literature concerning the Babylonian exile in and two “modern-time diasporas,” the Armenian and the Palestinian. Certain criteria were found common to the inspected cases, suggesting common identity shaping patterns that may transcend time and culture.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism

Abstract

The term “savar” in the Babylonian Talmud indicates an opinion that is ultimately rejected. According to some Rishonim, however, in certain places this term introduces an opinion that is not rejected. This article examines these instances and concludes that indeed in these places the term “savar” is references an opinion that is not ultimately rejected. In most of these places, the reading in most of the textual witnesses was emended, and the word “savar” was erased, apparently in accordance with the other approach. In those places where the text was not emended, some of the commentators interpreted the passage not in accordance with its plain meaning, and, according to their interpretation, the opinion that was introduced by the “savar” was indeed rejected.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism
Author: Shalem Yahalom

Abstract

Although he highly praises Rashi’s Torah commentary, Nahmanides emphasizes that Rashi’s work is not beyond criticism. This article points out one aspect of Nahmandes’ disagreement with Rashi. Rashi, for his part, is willing to cite traditional Midrashic commentaries without significant additions, assuming that tradition is an effective tool for transmitting reliable information. Nahmanides argued with Rashi over this claim. Rather than sufficing to repeat exegetical traditions, in his Torah commentary, Nahmanides expands them and raises alternatives. In this way, he asserts the importance of analyzing all information critically. This article demonstrates how reservations regarding tradition stand behind several exegetical and halakhic disputes between Rashi and Nahmanides. Through analyzing this principle, the study demonstrates how Nahmanides, under the guise of a guardian of tradition, constructed an original, creative spiritual world in the areas of exegesis, halakha, and kabbalah.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism

Abstract

Perceiving the odor emitted by one’s body or clothes as a manifestation of moral identity is a cross-cultural sociological and literary phenomenon. Odors were perceived as a mark that set social boundaries and they made it possible to distinguish between groups of people by their status or identity. In the Christian, Muslim, and Bahai traditions holy people, such as prophets, martyrs, and shahids, were perceived or described as smelling good. In Jewish cultural discourse, smell is a sociological-religious indicator that distinguishes, whether symbolically or realistically, between the good and the corrupt. The term “foul smell” is mentioned in association with negative people, mainly with regard to sexual promiscuity. In contrast, a good fragrance is emblematic of the Patriarchs (Abraham), people with stringent sexual morals (Joseph), and Torah scholars.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism
Author: Miriam Sklarz

Abstract

Classical exegetes’ exploration of structure and order in the Pentateuch is generally perceived as part of an internal-Jewish debate. However, in an exceptional testimonial, the introduction to R. Ovadiah Sforno’s Torah commentary describes a polemic against the Torah grounded in a claim about the Torah’s disorderliness. Responding to this critique, Sforno set out to uncover the Torah’s logical order. His efforts to elucidate the Torah’s order and structure include three aspects: he points to a circular structure that is repeated seven times in Genesis-Numbers, he systematically links the independent legal sections in Deuteronomy, and he discusses the Torah’s division into five separate books. While methodically addressing the question of order, Sforno also offers a response to fundamental theological issues at the center of the interfaith polemic.

In: Review of Rabbinic Judaism