Steinsaltz's long-awaited new translation of the Talmud is a landmark addition to the field of Jewish rabbinic writings. This massive undertaking will make the oral law, legends, and philosophy of the Talmud more accessible to the English-speaking world. Steinsaltz, author of The Essential Talmud and many other works on rabbinics, ethics, and Jewish mysticism, has here produced a clear and lucid translation and commentary, plus an invaluable reference guide. The guide describes the essential nature of the Talmud, its historical background, and the methodology, terminology, and legal and philosophic concepts used. It analyzes Aramaic, the language of the Talmud, showing its relationship to Hebrew, and also gives a chronology of the personages quoted. Part 1 of Bava Metzia , the first of many volumes to be translated, is concerned with civil and religious law in general, and specifically with the laws dealing with rival claims to an object. Steinsaltz presents the original Aramaic text, with both literal translation and a more detailed translation and commentary. Also included on each page are an explanation of the terminology used, notes in English summarizing the views of various commentators, and the commentary of Rashi, a medieval scholar, in his original Hebrew text. Recommended without reservation to all libraries with an interest in religion and Judaic studies. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/89.-- Maurice Tuchman, Hebrew Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass.