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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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Review

"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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa22f3b64) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2b37048) out of 5 stars One of my favorite Judaica/Biblical commentary books ever 15 Nov. 2007
By T. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm about halfway through the book and already it's one of my favorite Judaiaca and/or Bible commentary books ever (other favorites include Telushkin's Jewish Wisdom and others and Marc Brettler (who wrote the foreword)'s How to Read the Bible).

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!!!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1fe12b8) out of 5 stars Comentary on commentary ... 1 Sept. 2011
By Kartoshke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A quick read (the prose is not at all dense), and the introduction comprises helpful information about different Torah commentators. Most of the book, however, provides examples of commentary on several specific issues or chapters in the Torah rather than expounding on commentary in general or offering a "how to" of working through Torah commentary. The author uses a wide variety of scholarly sources, but also (problematically, in my view) uses the book as a forum for supporting personal, off-topic ideas such as vegetarianism. There might be good reasons to support these ideas, but the suggestion that they were in the Torah seemed anachronistic.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1fe100c) out of 5 stars generally good, occasional slip-ups early on 12 Jan. 2008
By Michael Lewyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Using five chunks of the Torah (the story of the Creation, the story of Cain and Abel, the law of slavery, the story of Korah's rebellion against Moses, and story of the daughters of Zelophedad's attempt to inherit from their father) as examples, this little book shows us how Torah study has evolved through time.

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).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1fdca08) out of 5 stars Perfect for all Adult Bible Students! 4 Mar. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deeply insightful scholarship, presented in an accessible, entertaining conversational fashion perfect for Bible-curious adult laymen.
HASH(0xa1fdcd50) out of 5 stars enlightening 16 May 2014
By Mr Dorre - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At first I had to drop it because I did not understand why the author was going to do many different places. The first chapter was hard. But almost one year after I took the book up again and discovered that it was a jewel! The author goes deeply in all 6 cases and covers all possible interpretations that came across in history. I recommend this book to everyone passionate about scripture and difficulties in the text.
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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