For the uninitiated - and even for seasoned scholars - the Talmud is a daunting sea of literature. Jacob Neusner in this book offers guidance in approaching the rabbinic writings, analyzing the ancient teachings, and interpreting the basis of religious authority for traditional Judaism. The result is a vivid introduction to one of the great documents of religion in society.
"We may compare the framers of the Talmud therefore to a weaver of a tapestry.... The weaver uses yarn that she has not made, yarn that is received from somewhere else. But the weaver uses the yarn to execute a vision of her own. The threads of the tapestry serve the artist's vision; the artist does not weave so that the threads show up one by one. The weavers of a tractate of the Bavli, as we shall see, make ample use of available yarm. But they weave their own tapestry of thought. And it is their vision, not the character of threads in hand, that dictates the proportions and message of the tapestry."
From Chapter 5
Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Religion and Theology at Bard College and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard. He has published more than 900 books and unnumbered articles, both scholarly and academic and popular and journalistic, and is the most published humanities scholar in the world. He has been awarded nine honorary degrees, including seven US and European honorary doctorates. He received his AB from Harvard College in 1953, his PhD from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in 1961, and rabbinical ordination and the degree of Master of Hebrew Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1960.
Neusner is editor of the 'Encyclopedia of Judaism' (Brill, 1999. I-III) and its Supplements; Chair of the Editorial Board of 'The Review of Rabbinic Judaism,' and Editor in Chief of 'The Brill Reference Library of Judaism', both published by E. J. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands. He is editor of 'Studies in Judaism', University Press of America.
Neusner resides with his wife in Rhinebeck, New York. They have a daughter, three sons and three daughters-in-law, six granddaughters and two grandsons.