An Introduction To Judaism / Edition 1

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Judaism is an ancient religion, practiced through most of recorded history and having profound influence on both Christianity and Islam. It is a modern religion, too, still transforming the lives of many people. In this book, Jacob Neusner brings together these two aspects of the study of Judaism. He describes how Judaism is practiced in a particular time and place--America today--and surveys how Judaism took shape as people responded to political and religious crises. Neusner provides a wealth of primary texts in addition to his own analysis.

An ancient religion practiced through most of recorded history and having profound influence on both Christianity and Islam, Judaism is also a modern religion that still transforms the lives of many people. Neusner surveys how Judaism took shape as people responded to political and religious crises and describes how Judaism is practiced in American today.

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Editorial Reviews

In this textbook intended for the student and teacher of an introductory course in Judaism, Neusner describes how Judaism is practiced today in North America and surveys how Judaism took historical shape as people responded to political and religious crises. Includes many primary texts in addition to Neusner's analysis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664253486
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 1.11 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacob Neusner is Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism and Bard Center Fellow at the Bard College Institute of Advanced Theology in Annondale-on-Hudson, New York. He is the author of several books, including Judaism When Christianity Began, The Emergence of Judaism, and the popular textbook World Religions in America, all of which are available from WJK.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
A Word to the Student: Why Study Judaism? xi
Part 1 The Jewish People: Judaism in the World Today
1. Judaism at Home: Through the Year 3
Grace after Meals 3
The Passover Seder 8
2. Judaism in the Family: Through the Cycle of Life 15
The Rite of Circumcision 15
The Bar or Bat Mitzvah 20
The Marriage Ceremony 22
Death and Burial 30
3. Judaism in the Synagogue 37
The World of the Synagogue: Daily Prayer 37
Sabbaths of Creation, Festivals of Redemption 50
The Days of Awe: Standing before God for Judgment 59
Jewish Law and Learning: Halakhah and Study of the Torah 62
4. How People Practice Judaism in America: The Jewish People and the Jewish Faith 69
The Two Judaisms of America 69
The Judaism of Home and Family 70
The Judaism of Holocaust and Redemption 71
Judaism at Home and Judaism in Public: The Civil Religion of American Jews 76
Anthology for Part One The Jewish People: Judaism in the World Today
Jack Wertheimer, Recent Trends in American Judaism 85
Jacob Neusner, The Jewish Religious Experience in America: The Problem of Interpretation 117
Part 2 The Torah: Judaism in Holy Books and in History
5. The Hebrew Scriptures of Ancient Israel: The Crisis Addressed by the Five Books of Moses 131
Israel before Judaism: The Biblical Prelude 131
The Yahwist's Judaism for an Imperial Israel, 950 B.C.E. 137
Crisis and Resolution 141
Event and Pattern 142
The Model Judaism: The Priests' System for Israel after Exile and Return 145
Sacred Perseverance and the Exegesis of the Everyday: Why the Priests' Judaic System of Sanctification Persisted 151
6. The Beginning of Rabbinic Judaism: The Crisis Addressed by the Mishnah in 70 C.E. 157
Pharisaism before, and Judaism after, 70 C.E. 157
The Mishnah: History of Its System 163
The Topical Program of the Mishnah 164
The Mishnah's System as a Whole 167
The Mishnah and Judaism 169
7. The Mishnah 175
Humanity in Crisis: What Can Israel Do? 175
Women in the Mishnah 176
Women: Yebamot, Chapter 10 (M. Yeb. 10:1-5) 178
The Social Vision of the Mishnah 185
8. The Formation of Rabbinic Judaism: The Crisis Addressed by the Talmuds and the Midrash 193
The Unfolding of the Mishnah's Tradition 193
Systemic Changes in the Fourth Century: Canon, Symbol, Teleology 200
The Crisis of the Fourth Century 207
9. The Talmud of the Land of Israel, the Midrash, and the Talmud of Babylonia 211
The Talmud of the Land of Israel 211
The Midrash: Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah 225
The Talmud of Babylonia 235
The Dual Torah: A Review. From the Mishnah through the Bavli 247
Anthology for Chapters Six to Nine Rabbinic Judaism: Its Formative History and Holy Books
Jacob Neusner, Deuteronomy and Sifre to Deuteronomy 257
10. The Success of Rabbinic Judaism: From Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century 269
Why Judaism Triumphed amid Christianity and Islam 269
A Judaism within Rabbinic Judaism: Hasidism 275
Heresies against Rabbinic Judaism: Karaism versus the Oral Torah 279
Heresies against Rabbinic Judaism: Sabbateanism versus the Sage-Messiah 284
The Power and Pathos of Judaism 287
11. The Advent of New Judaisms in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 291
The Fall of Judaism and the Rise of Judaisms 291
A Judaism within Rabbinic Judaism: Reform 295
Judaism within Rabbinic Judaism: Orthodoxy 300
A Judaism outside of Rabbinic Judaism: Zionism 309
Heresies outside of Judaism: Zionism 312
Anthology for Chapters Ten and Eleven Rabbinic Judaism: Law, Philosophy, Mysticism, and Theology
Isadore Twersky, The Shulhan Arukh: Enduring Code of Jewish Law 323
Abraham J. Heschel, The Mystical Element in Judaism 339
Emil L. Fackenheim, The Human Condition after Auschwitz 363
Ben Halpern, The Jewish Consensus 375
Part 3 The Jewish People and the Torah
12. Defining Judaism 385
The Problem of Definition and How It Has Been Evaded 385
Defining by Identifying an Integrating Symbol: "The Torah" as the Definition of Judaism 389
A Review of the History of Judaism 392
Anthology for Part Three How Encyclopedias Define Judaism
Louis Jacobs, Judaism (Encyclopaedia Judaica) 405
William Scott Green, Old Habits Die Hard: Judaism in The Encyclopedia of Religion 413
A Word to the Teacher: Introducing Judaism 433
Glossary 447
Index 473
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