Studies in Midrash and Related Literature

Studies in Midrash and Related Literature

Studies in Midrash and Related Literature

Studies in Midrash and Related Literature

Excerpt

Judah Goldin is known to laymen and scholars alike for his learned and elegant expositions of classical Jewish literature and for his graceful translations of early rabbinic texts. His studies, focusing primarily on tannaitic texts (dating to the first two centuries of the Common Era), illuminate a major, formative period of Judaism to which all later periods react. These studies cover a wide range of themes, including biblical exegesis, the art of translation, philosophy, prayer, education, love, messianism, angelology, history, biography, magic and superstition, and the dynamics of change and adaptation in Judaism.

The present volume includes most of Goldin's scholarly articles, many of which appeared originally in periodicals and anniversary volumes that are not widely circulated or accessible. The purpose of the present collection, however, goes beyond the convenience of easy accessibility. Together these articles show Goldin's unique approach to classical Jewish literature much more clearly than they could separately. This whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Goldin forces students and readers to re-examine well-known texts they never doubted they understood. His own—often surprising—interpretations of these texts are characterized by a unique combination of qualities. Building on the textual erudition and technical skill that he learned from his teachers, who included some of the great modern philologists of talmudic literature, he applies to rabbinic literature his own unparalleled literary sensitivity, honed on the classics of Western literary tradition. As a humanist, he reads rabbinic texts not only as a legal and exegetical resource but also—as literature! He views the texts not only within the context of Judaism and not only against the cultural background of the ancient Mediterranean world, but also within the intellectual context of the universal human issues they address. No scholar has done more than he to clarify what is happening in the non-legal parts of rabbinic . . .

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