Review by Choice Review
Important and comprehensive, this new work offers signed articles by reputable scholars covering about 120 broad topics in a detailed historical framework. Besides the usual themes--charity, circumcision (written by a modern opponent), Dead Sea writings, Halakha, and the history, philosophy, and theology of Judaism--the work also treats politics, masculine and feminine, economics, and numerous other topics and their relationship within or to Judaism. An outstanding example is Zev Gerber's "Holocaust, the Practice of Judaism during." The reader is expected to locate minor themes through the detailed general index, but that index is difficult to use, since it does not list smaller topics within long articles and cites numerous page numbers for many entries, requiring that readers plough through scores of pages in three volumes. Index entries do not cite volume number before page numbers, and page numbers covered in each volume are not listed on the jacket or spine. The index of textual references is more user-friendly. The Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. by Geoffrey Wigoder (CH, May'90), follows the more usual format of brief and mid-length articles, and although it has only one volume, it includes many topics not found in the present work (e.g., "Abbaye," "Rav," "Saadya Gaon," "Pidyon Haben," "Captives, Ransoming of," "Prayer book"). While Neusner et al.'s work is essential for all libraries, it does not supersede Wigoder. D. Kranzler; Queensborough Community College, CUNY
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
The Encyclopedia of Judaism is the first multivolume reference work on Judaism to appear in many years (Macmillan's 16-volume Encyclopedia Judaica is now almost 30 years old, although yearbooks and decennial volumes have updated it to 1992, and the CD-ROM version [RBB D 1 97] is more current still). Not simply a chronology of dates or a dictionary of terms, this new work presents Judaism as a living religion. It treats the diversity of religious practice and worldview present in Judaism and the relationship of Judaism to other religious traditions both historically and in the contemporary world. There are more than 100 lengthy essays, written and signed by an international team of scholars. One would expect entries for Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Judaism as well as Torah, liturgy, and the place of Jerusalem in Judaism. However, exciting essays also treat Masculine and feminine in Judaism, Jesus and Judaism, and Holocaust, the practice of Judaism during, including religious practice in concentration camps. Special attention is also given to the history of Judaism in individual countries (e.g., Britain, France, South Africa, the U.S.) as well as regions (e.g., Eastern Europe, Latin and South America). One nice feature of several essays (e.g., Death and afterlife, Judaic doctrines of; Sin in Judaism) is the inclusion of passages from sacred and rabbinic texts, and nearly all entries conclude with supplemental bibliographies and notes. The set concludes with a general index and an index of textual references. Illustrations consist of several sections of black-and-white plates in each volume. The editors have chosen a format of fewer but lengthier essays in lieu of shorter, more numerous entries that merely define and thereby "neglect the framework in which facts take on meaning." Living religions are more than precise definitions and discrete biographies. This strength is also a weakness as the work is harder to use when one need only verify a date or check a fact--in such cases, the index is required. From the index, users are directed to one or more (in some cases well over 100) different pages and required to extract the information they need, itself part of a longer narrative, on their own. This is also true for biographical information (though the entry Rabbinic literature in medieval and modern times is basically biographical entries arranged in chronological order). A recent competitor to The Encyclopedia of Judaism is The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion [RBB Jl 97], which consists of shorter and more numerous entries. Its scope is broader and its arrangement lends itself to ready-reference. The two titles actually complement each other quite well: the former offers more detailed treatment while the latter provides broader coverage. Academic libraries should acquire both. Libraries requiring less coverage in this area, however, would do better acquiring the Oxford volume.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
For this three-volume encyclopedia, an international set of noted religious studies scholars has produced 115 essays and articles on Judaism. Although the work is aimed at an academic audience and the double-columned layout may appear intimidating to the casual browser, lay readers (whether Jewish or not) will appreciate the depth of thought and research here. The articles, which run from a few pages to 15 pages, touch on many contemporary issues, e.g., the article on medical ethics discusses the controversy surrounding "test tube" babies. There is also in-depth discussion of concepts such as monotheism or creeds and modern Jewish movements such as Reform Judaism. Each article is signed and presents notes for further reading and research. Academic libraries and large public libraries serving a Jewish clientele should certainly consider this set, although they are not a substitute for the 16-volume Encyclopaedia Judaica (LJ 8/72; just released on CD-ROM). Most public libraries would do just as well with The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (LJ 4/15/97) or The Jewish Religion: A Companion (Oxford Univ., 1995), both concise and insightful single-volume texts.ÄPaul M. Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.