Torah Through Time: Understanding Bible Commentary from the Rabbinic Period to Modern Times: Understanding Bible Commentary, from the Rabbinic Times to Modern Times Paperback – 30 Nov 2007
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"This book provides a highly readable, engaging introduction to Jewish biblical interpretation."-Jewish Book World Jewish Book World "Cherry has analyzed the biblical commentary of some of the renowned Jewish scholars of the last 2,000 years. The result is a work of excellent scholarship and imagination."-Booklist Booklist "Cherry shows how the Torah functions as literature that is fluid, compelling, and persistently generative of new meanings."-Christian Century Christian Century
About the Author
Shai Cherry holds a doctorate in Jewish Thought and Theology from Brandeis University. He served as the Mellon Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University, and he taught Jewish philosophy at the University of Judaism, Jewish biblical interpretation at the Academy for Jewish Religion, and Judaism and Darwinism at UCLA. He is currently completing his studies at the University of Judaism for rabbinic ordination.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The first chapter (after the introduction), called No Word Unturned, was actually so good I read it twice. It's very dense in the sense that a lot of information is packed into a small amount of space but it is written so well that you fly through the pages instead of plodding through thick text. The chapter summarizes the major different schools of (Hebrew) bible commentary. A quote from one of my favorite paragraphs: after explaining how most of the rabbis in the Rabbinic period considered there to be numerous (tens? hundreds?) of interpretations of the Bible's cryptic passages, he notes that some had a more restrictive view. 'Rabbi Ishmael is associated with the legal principle that "The Torah speaks in human language." This notion precludes using every word in the Torah as an opportunity for midrash. In other words, Rabbi Ishmael and those of his schol were opposed to omnisignificance. Even Sigmund Freud conceded that, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."'
The book also has an extensive bibliography, and recommends other books to the reader to other books, such as a recent book by Kugel, so the reader can go more indepth if he wants to.
I've got more to say about this great book but I'm going to a lecture tonight so I've gotta go. Buy this book!!!
For each chapter, the author begins with commentaries from the era of the Talmud, then discusses medieval commentaries (both rational and mystical) and more modern commentators. I generally liked this book's comparison of the various commentators; however, the first chapter, which generally describes the differences between Talmudic-era, medieval and post-medieval commentators, sometimes oversimplifies those differences. (For example, it states that Rambam describes the Torah's claims about this-world reward and punishment as "a noble lie", which seems hard to believe without a more detailed explanation of his words).
My only critic is on the chapter of the Hebrew slave. I do not know why within Judaism the subject of slavery is such a taboo thing. With all these enlightening sources and writings on their hands we wonder why they did not defend enough the dignity of the human being during black trade and slavery.
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