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The Talmud: A Biography

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The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality The Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Ye The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality The Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Yet the Talmud has remained in print for centuries and is more popular today than ever. Barry Scott Wimpfheimer tells the remarkable story of this ancient Jewish book and explains why it has endured for almost two millennia. Providing a concise biography of this quintessential work of rabbinic Judaism, Wimpfheimer takes readers from the Talmud's prehistory in biblical and second-temple Judaism to its present-day use as a source of religious ideology, a model of different modes of rationality, and a totem of cultural identity. He describes the book's origins and structure, its centrality to Jewish law, its mixed reception history, and its golden renaissance in modernity. He explains why reading the Talmud can feel like being swept up in a river or lost in a maze, and why the Talmud has come to be venerated--but also excoriated and maligned--in the centuries since it first appeared. An incomparable introduction to a work of literature that has lived a full and varied life, this accessible book shows why the Talmud is at once a received source of traditional teachings, a touchstone of cultural authority, and a powerful symbol of Jewishness for both supporters and critics.


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The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality The Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Ye The life and times of an enduring work of Jewish spirituality The Babylonian Talmud, a postbiblical Jewish text that is part scripture and part commentary, is an unlikely bestseller. Written in a hybrid of Hebrew and Aramaic, it is often ambiguous to the point of incomprehension, and its subject matter reflects a narrow scholasticism that should hardly have broad appeal. Yet the Talmud has remained in print for centuries and is more popular today than ever. Barry Scott Wimpfheimer tells the remarkable story of this ancient Jewish book and explains why it has endured for almost two millennia. Providing a concise biography of this quintessential work of rabbinic Judaism, Wimpfheimer takes readers from the Talmud's prehistory in biblical and second-temple Judaism to its present-day use as a source of religious ideology, a model of different modes of rationality, and a totem of cultural identity. He describes the book's origins and structure, its centrality to Jewish law, its mixed reception history, and its golden renaissance in modernity. He explains why reading the Talmud can feel like being swept up in a river or lost in a maze, and why the Talmud has come to be venerated--but also excoriated and maligned--in the centuries since it first appeared. An incomparable introduction to a work of literature that has lived a full and varied life, this accessible book shows why the Talmud is at once a received source of traditional teachings, a touchstone of cultural authority, and a powerful symbol of Jewishness for both supporters and critics.

43 review for The Talmud: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    BHodges

    Another great addition to the LOGRB series!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Char

    I got about halfway through before giving up on this one. I just could not penetrate his writing. I'm not sure if it's him or me but it was just not coming together. I think he definitely could have benefited from a better editor on those first two chapters, which were pretty disorganized. I also was hoping for a more historical account of the Talmud's redaction, which might have helped to better support the textual analyses. I got about halfway through before giving up on this one. I just could not penetrate his writing. I'm not sure if it's him or me but it was just not coming together. I think he definitely could have benefited from a better editor on those first two chapters, which were pretty disorganized. I also was hoping for a more historical account of the Talmud's redaction, which might have helped to better support the textual analyses.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Impenetrable! Despite multiple efforts, I was only able to read 30 pages of this book because the author’s writing style was extremely difficult for me to read. I had really looked forward to this book as our December selection because I wanted to learn more about the Talmud. I did learn quite a bit during the discussion, but frankly could not learn anything from the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    You ever read an introduction long after you should have because you, on the one hand, know the thing pretty well and, on the other hand, missed some obvious 101 stuff? Yeah, this was a very useful book in that respect. Time to go through the footnotes and make my next reading list.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Wasn't an entertaining read but the information it gives is exactly what you want if you're looking for a 'biography' of the Talmud. Wasn't an entertaining read but the information it gives is exactly what you want if you're looking for a 'biography' of the Talmud.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    296.12 W757 2018

  8. 4 out of 5

    Seth Morris

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ruti

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marion

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Miller

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Benbow

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Robinson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abraham Mustri

  19. 4 out of 5

    Forrest Scott Lewis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Perel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mauricio Santoro

  22. 4 out of 5

    gary schreiber

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip Gross

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Zador

  28. 4 out of 5

    Inventory

  29. 4 out of 5

    Neil

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Fried

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ina Cawl

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  33. 5 out of 5

    Gina

  34. 4 out of 5

    Joe Q.

  35. 5 out of 5

    David

  36. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

  37. 5 out of 5

    KJ Stone

  38. 5 out of 5

    David

  39. 5 out of 5

    Jane Tuszynski

  40. 5 out of 5

    John

  41. 5 out of 5

    Drorah

  42. 5 out of 5

    Ronen

  43. 5 out of 5

    Sue Wilkey

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