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Introducing Judaism is the ideal starting point for students beginning their studies of this fascinating religion. Eliezer Segal takes a historical approach, focusing on religious aspects of Judaism, and introducing themes as they emerge from authentic Jewish documents. Students will gain an understanding of how Judaism is lived by its adherents and the historical and geographical diversity of Jewish beliefs and practices.
The book has a clear and accessible structure. Part One presents the historical context of Judaism, from the Biblical era, through the Medieval period and on to modern Judaism. Part Two surveys the distinctive values and beliefs of Judaism, including attitudes to God, Covenant, Israel, exile and homeland, the Torah, and its commandments, while Part Three presents Jewish Practices and Institutions, engaging with topics such as daily life, worship, temple and synagogue, law, ethics and education, the afterlife, and resurrection.
Throughout the book, Eliezer Segal stresses the diversity of interpretations that have been generated by historical circumstances, differing theological and ideological outlooks, and the spiritual creativity of the religious community. Attention is paid to various models of piety, mysticism, scholasticism and folk religion, including the impact of Judaism on the daily life of believers and the experiences of Jewish women.
Illustrated throughout, Introducing Judaism includes text boxes, a glossary, and a list of further reading to aid students’ understanding and revision, providing a thorough overview of one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religions still practiced today.
The accompanying website for this book can be found at www.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415440097.
'Eliezer Segal has done an extremely impressive job of providing a broad introduction to Judaism within the scope of a single volume. Segal knows his subject matter thoroughly and writes with authority. What is more, Segal writes engagingly and in an accessible fashion. This book will surely be welcomed warmly by readers from a variety of backgrounds, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who wish to learn about the many facets of the Jewish religion as seen through the eyes of an expert and sympathetic ‘insider’. Segal has done a great service to his readers and to contemporary Judaism.'- Robert Brody, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
'Eliezer Segal’s book is an excellent introduction to the history of Judaism as religion and as religious practice from its Biblical origins through the Middle Ages to the contemporary scene of today. In its comprehensiveness and lucidity, there is no other textbook quite like it on the market. It is perfect for both beginners with no previous knowledge of Judaism and a valuable resource for students with more background.'- David Stern, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Part 1: The Historical Framework 1. The Biblical Legacy 2. The Second Temple Era 3. Judaism of the Talmud and Midrash 4. Medieval Judaism 5. Medieval Jewish Philosophy 6. Kabbalah 7. The Modern Era Part 2: Jewish Beliefs and Values 8. Devotion to One God 9. God and the World 10. Israel's Sacred History 11. Life After Death 12. The Mystic Path 13. Wisdom and Scholarship 14. Justice and Morality Part 3: Jewish Observances and Institutions 15. Jewish Education 16. Places of Worship: Temple and Synagogue 17. Judaism and Daily Life 18. The Sacred Calendar 19. Life Cycle Observances
This was the required reading for my Judaism course in my Religious Studies program in University for the Fall 2009 semester. It is an easy to understand text that made a sometimes complicated religion easy to understand.
Dr. Segal is a clear and organized writer. I would definitely recommend this text to any beginner wanting to know the basics of Judaism from a secular, historical perspective.
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