Encyclopaedia of Judaism

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
General Editors: Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck and William Scott Green

The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers more than 200 entries comprising more than 1,000,000 words and is a unique reference tool.  The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers an authoritative, comprehensive, and systematic presentation of the current state of scholarship on fundamental issues of Judaism, both past and present. While heavy emphasis is placed on the classical literature of Judaism and its history, the Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online also includes principal entries on circumcision, genetic engineering, homosexuality, intermarriage in American Judaism, and other acutely contemporary issues. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it reflects the highest standards in scholarship. Covering a tradition of nearly four thousand years, some of the most distinguished scholars in the field describe the way of life, history, art, theology, philosophy, and the practices and beliefs of the Jewish people.

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Bible. Interpretation: How Judaism Reads the Bible.

(11,934 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Judaism in its normative sources of the first six centuries c.e. reads the Bible. by transforming the narrative of Scripture into a pattern that applies to times past as much as to the acutely contemporary world. It is as if the sages of Rabbinic Judaism interpret this morning's newspaper in the light of an established paradigm of how things are and what they mean. For Judaism, the past is present, and the present is part of the past, so past, present, and future form a single plane of being. Here is a ve…

Biblical Interpretation in Rabbinic Literature: Historical and Philological Aspects

(12,856 words)

Author(s): Gruber, Mayer I.
Rashi (1040–1105), the single most influential Jewish biblical commentator of all time, bequeathed to modern scholarship on Judaism two contradictory definitions of what he called midrash. In his Commentary on Gen. 3:8 and his Introduction to his Commentary on the Song of Songs, Rashi explains that he chose from among the many midrashim written about a given biblical text those midrashim that are congruent with biblical grammar, syntax, and lexicography. On the other hand, throughout his biblical commentaries, Rashi distinguishes between peshuto meaning “literal meaning” and midr…

Biblical Interpretation, Medieval French

(12,473 words)

Author(s): Harris, Robert A.
Between the middle of the eleventh century and the end of the twelfth century, a veritable revolution took place in biblical exegesis among the Rabbinic masters of northern France. During that time, a group of Rabbinic scholars began to formulate a new and innovative approach to reading and interpreting biblical texts according to a methodology that came to be called peshat , or “contextual exegesis.” This revolution paralleled, contributed to, and was influenced by a similar advance made in ad literam, or literal, reading methodology by contemporary Christian scholars, mos…

Biography in Rabbinic Judaism

(12,066 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
About not a single Rabbinic sage of late antiquity, the first six centuries c.e., do we have the materials that sustain anything like a serviceable biography. 1 That is not merely because the sources do not serve for critical history in the conventional sense, but because they intend a different kind of treatment of lives of persons. Paradigmatic episodes in place of distinctive and individual biography yield the model of the life framed by the Torah: a life lived within the rules of nature, but facing outward toward sup…

Biology and the Law of Judaism

(7,187 words)

Author(s): Hüttermann, Aloys
Contrary to the statements of scholars in the field of history of biology or its special disciplines, Judaism requires deep biological knowledge from its followers. The Israelite Scriptures, however, were not composed as textbooks of biology. They are theological documents, written and edited to convey certain theological messages. Thus, the wisdom of the authors of the Torah concerning biological concepts can be deducted only indirectly from passages in which biological concepts are transmitted…

Biomedical Ethics, Halakhic Approaches to

(18,722 words)

Author(s): Barilan, Y.M.
In the twenty-first century, it is hard to fully appreciate the almost complete absence of medicine from the Bible. in general and the Torah in particular. While health and healing played central roles in ancient religions, the first time medical doctors are mentioned in the Torah is when Joseph orders his doctors to embalm the body of Jacob (Gen. 50:2). The Bible's acknowledgment of the then world-famous Egyptian medicine 1 is tinted with irony. The doctors are slaves and their expertise is sought only after Jacob has died. The Talmud does not take medicine for granted. It seeks t…