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Archive for Book Reviews

Overview of David Weiss Halivni on the Formation of the Talmud

At the Talmud Blog, Zvi Septimus has an excellent review of David Weiss Halivni’s recent book The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud (trans. Jeffrey Rubenstein) and an overview of Halivni’s theory on the formation of the Talmud. Halivni’s theory can be summarized as follows: Much like in the time of the Tannaim, the Amoraim formulated […]

Review: The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud

The Blog of the Center for Jewish Law has a review of David Weiss Halivni’s The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud. This quote from Halivni provides a good summary of his approach to the formation of the Talmud. The foundation of my theory of the formation of the Talmud rests on the thesis that the […]

Book Review: Defining Jewish Difference

Joshua Schwartz has written a very positive review of Beth Berkowitz’s book about Hukkot ha-Goyim (“The Laws of the Nations”) and the history of the interpretation of Leviticus 18:3, Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present. This is an absolutely outstanding work. While the scope and extent of the material studied are amazing, the […]

Book Reviews on Non-Jews in Ancient Rabbinic Culture and Medieval Ashkenaz

The blog of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization has posted two recent book reviews that may be of interest. The first is a review of Jenny Labendz’s Socratic Torah: Non-Jews in Rabbinic Intellectual Culture. In Socratic Torah, Jenny Labendz sets out to challenge assumptions of insularity and parochialism among the rabbis of […]

Book Review of Demonic Desires: ‘Yetzer Hara’ and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity

From the THE BLOG OF THE CENTER FOR JEWISH LAW Review of Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Demonic Desires: ‘Yetzer Hara’ and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. 264 pages. $69.95 By Jason Rubenstein jasonbassirubenstein-at-gmail.com Ishay Rosen-Zvi’s Demonic Desires: ‘Yetzer Hara’ and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity is an […]

Fishman-Soloveitchik Debate Continues

Haym Soloveitchik reviewed Talia Fishman’s book Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures in the Jewish Review of Books. Fishman’s response and Soloveitchik’s rejoinder can be found here. See a more detailed rejoinder by Soloveitchik here. It ain’t pretty.

Review of The En Yaaqov: Jacob ibn Habib’s Search for Faith in the Talmudic Corpus

At H-Judaic Richard J. Hidary reviews Marjorie Lehman’s The En Yaaqov: Jacob Ibn Habib’s Search for Faith in the Talmudic Corpus. Rabbi Jacob ibn Habib was born in Castile sometime in the 1440s and taught in the academy at Salamanca until his expulsion in 1492. After moving to Lisbon, where there was another decree of […]

Book Review: The Birth of Conservative Judaism

From a review at H-Judaic of Michael Cohen’s The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement. Cohen’s initial task is to overturn several persistent theories regarding Conservative Judaism’s origins. Most accounts of the movement locate its beginnings in the nineteenth century, either with Zecharias Frankel’s “positive-historical school” […]

Admiel Kosman Reviews a New Volume of Rav Shagar’s Writings

In Haaretz, Admiel Kosman reviews a new collection of Rav Shagar’s writings: If anything can be said clearly about Rabbi Shagar, it is that nothing about him was clear. The fact that the man was a strict adherent to halakha (religious law ) during his lifetime, although deep in his heart there was also something […]

A God Who Loves and Cuddles

The New Yorker has a review of T.M. Luhrmann’s new book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. Luhrmann spend time in two congregations affiliated with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship and described the following steps that allow a person to build a relationship with God who can “become your intimate, someone […]

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