Judaism in Late Antiquity 3. Where we Stand: Issues and Debates in Ancient Judaism

Volume One


This collection of systematic Auseinandersetzungen articulates difference and spells out what is at issue. Learning atrophies when political consensus substitutes for criticism, and when other than broadly-accepted viewpoints, approaches, and readings find a hearing only with difficulty, if at all. The editors therefore have invited colleagues systematically to outline their views in an Auseinandersetzung with contrary ones. The several participants explain how, in broad and sweeping terms, they see the state of learning in their areas of special interest. The editors invited leading players in the USA, Europe, and the State of Israel, in the study of ancient Judaism, both in Second Temple Times and after 70 C.E.
The work commences with a thoroughly fresh perspective of a theoretical question: what, in a religion so concerned with social norms and public policy, can we possibly mean by "law" when we speak of law in Judaism. It then proceeds with two chapters on Second Temple Judaism, and two on the special subject of the Dead Sea library. The two papers in the present part provide an overview of matters and a systematic, critical account of the fading consensus, respectively. The next set of papers ought to stand as the definitive account of the diverse viewpoints on a basic question of method. Because of the willingness of contending parties to meet one another in a single frame of discourse, the work is able to portray with considerable breadth the presently-contending viewpoints concerning the use of Rabbinic literature for historical purposes. Then proceed a number of other accounts of how matters look from the perspective of major participants in scholarly debate. At the same time as the requirements of historical-critical reading of the Rabbinic literature precipitated sustained and vigorous debate, other problems have attracted attention. Among these a critical issue emerges in the hermeneutics to govern the reading of the documents for the purposes of other-than-historical study, feminist interests, for example.
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Biographical Note

Jacob Neusner, Ph.D., Columbia University, is Distinguished Research Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and Professor of Religion at Bard College, Annandale-Hudson, N.Y. He has published more than 725 books and is Editor of South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism, USF Texts and Studies, and other monograph series at Scholars Press.
Alan J. Avery-Peck is Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies in the Religious Studies Department of the College of Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts. Alongside numerous articles he has published The Priestly Gift in Mishnah, A Study of Tractate Terumot (Scholars Press, 1981) and four volumes of translation of and commentary on Talmudic treatises. He is editor of New Perspectives on Ancient Judaism. Volume VI. The Literature of Early Rabbinic Judaism: Issues in Talmudic Redaction and Interpretation (University Press of America, 1998).

Table of contents

Fundamental Questions
I. "Law"in Early Judaism, Philip R. Davies, Sheffield University
Second Temple Judaism
II. Sadducees and Pharisees, Lester L. Grabbe, University of Hull
III. Issues in Samaritanism, R.J. Coggins, University of London
Debates on the Dead Sea Scrolls
IV. Theories of Qumran, Johann Maier, University de Cologne
V. The Current State of Qumran Studies: Crisis in the Scrollery. A Dying Consensus, Albert I. Baumgarten, Bar Ilan University
Rabbinic Judaism: The Debate about "Talmudic History"
VI. Rabbinic Sources for Historical Study: A Debate with Ze'ev Safrai, Jacob Neusner, University of South Florida and Bard College
VII. Rabbinic Sources as Historical: A Response to Professor Neusner, Ze'ev Safrai, Bar Ilan University
VIII. Rabbinic Sources for Historical Study, Günter Stemberger, University of Vienna
IX. Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity as a Source for Historical Study, Richard Kalmin, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
X. Rabbinic Sources for Historical Study, David Kraemer, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
XI. Rabbinic Sources for Historical Study, Louis H. Feldman, Yeshiva University
Rabbinic Judaism: Literature
XII. The Butchering of Jewish Texts to Feed the Masses, Herbert W. Basser, Queens University.

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