Review by Choice Review
The constant flow of Neusner's writing related to Judaism, and particularly to the rabbinic period, never ceases to amaze-even readers who know how prolific and original he is in his efforts. In the introduction to the present volume, Neusner raises a question never addressed before: how does the Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud, completed in c. 600 CE), when viewed as a whole, relate to the antecedent canonical literature-viz., the Mishnah and the Talmud Yerushalmi? He proceeds to answer the question by description, analysis, and interpretation of five different but representative Mishnaic tractates (Berakhot, Sukkah, Sotah, Sanhedrin, and Arakhin) as they occur in both Talmuds. He concludes that the Bavli differs from the Yerushalmi not primarily in ideology, theology, and symbology but in the Bavli's final redactional stage where the unique union of Scriptures and Mishnah are made to complement and parallel each other as the revealed word of God. It is a conclusion that will arouse scholarly debate, but the evidence provided is well argued and amply documented. Neusner's keen interest in literary criticism and his form-critical methodology will enable readers to appreciate the Bavli both on its own terms and in the context of classical Judaism. Finally, Neusner's work is an exhilarating read; it strips the authoritative rabbinic mind to its essential nakedness and truth. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries.-Z. Garber, Los Angeles Valley College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.