Jerusalem Talmud: A Translation and Commentary on CD (CD-ROM)Professor of Religion Jacob Neusner (editor)
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Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers Inc
Weight: 73 g
"In two different ways, this CD-ROM English translation of the Talmud of the Land of Israel ("Yerushalmi," "Jerusalem Talmud," "Palestinian Talmud") 175 presents an important contribution to the study of the Talmudic literature. Its first importance is as a critical translation of and commentary to this central text of early Judaism. Neusner's remains the only complete English translation of and commentary to this fourth-fifth century CE rabbinic text.
"The CD-ROM's second importance is in making Neusner's groundbreaking work on this text available and readily accessible. His English translation of the Jerusalem Talmud originally was published between 1982 and 1994 by the University of Chicago Press, in thirty-five volumes (thirteen of the Yerushalmi's tractates were translated by scholars other than Neusner). That translation, excluding ten of the eleven tractates of the Division of Agriculture, served as the foundation for a second publication, Neusner's "The Talmud of the Land of Israel: An Academic Commentary to the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions," published in 1998 by Scholars Press, in twenty-eight volumes. While the translation and commentary presented in this new CD-ROM edition thus have been available for a decade and more, the immense size of the work has meant that, despite its importance, until now it has been found almost exclusively in research libraries. This CD-ROM edition for the first time makes a complete English translation of the Talmud of the Land of Israel readily available to scholars and a general audience interested in Jewish history, law, and thought.
"Neusner's work has two components. The first, and for most readers central, component is the translation proper. Neusner (and the several other translators represented here) renders the exceedingly complex Hebrew and Aramaic of the Talmud in readable and comprehensible English. Bracketed comments supply the underlying stream of Talmudic thought that generally goes unstated within the Talmud's laconic style. Read without the bracketed additions, the translation is true to the Hebrew and Aramaic original. More important to most readers, when paying attention to the bracketed interpolations, even those unschooled in Talmudic rhetoric and rabbinic law can make sense of and appreciate the Talmudic discourse.
"The work's second component is the commentary, presented here as it appeared in the Scholars Press edition, but now including the eleven tractates of the Division of Agriculture absent from that publication. (In the original University of Chicago Press series, these tractates were translated by other scholars. For this edition Neusner has retranslated and commented on those tractates afresh.) "Rather than being concerned with the legal or theological ramifications of the Talmud's discussions, Neusner's commentary visually sets out and thereby clarifies the way in which the Talmud's redactors have gone about their work. Neusner wishes to understand how small units of discourse have been compiled into "compositions" that express a point or idea often quite unexpected based on the Mishnaic or other underlying text from which they evolve. He portrays the Talmudic redactor's work, first, by using different type styles to demarcate citations of antecedent documents (Mishnah and Tosefta) and to distinguish Aramaic from Hebrew. Second, he labels individual units of discourse so that the reader can be clear on how independent compositions have been juxtaposed to make larger points. Finally, he uses indentations to set out what, in contemporary usage, would appear in footnotes or appendices: discourse that advances the purpose of the Talmudic redactor even if it does not pertain to the specific exposition at hand. The result is a visual representation of the Talmud's redaction that, it bears noting, convincingly suggests this Talmud to be much more cogently edited than previous scholars have recognized.
The CD-ROM edition includes Neusner's brief introductions to the general topic and themes of each tractate, and it provides detailed outlines for most of the tractates (excepting the newly retranslated tractates in the Division of Agriculture). The program can be run from the CD or fully installed on both Windows and Macintosh computers. Composed of PDF files, it uses Adobe Reader as its presentation engine, so that all of the functionality of "Adobe Reader" is available. This includes basic searches and the ability to add and saves annotations. What is missing is the ability to view the original Talmudic text and to link that text to the translation (which can be done, for instance, in the "Soncino Classics Edition" of the Babylonian Talmud). But that feature will not be missed by the majority of individuals who in the first place turn to a translation such as this.
"The Jerusalem Talmud: A Translation and Commentary on CD-ROM" is a valuable addition to the corpus of rabbinic texts now available in electronic format. For the Babylonian Talmud, this includes Neusner's "The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary on CD-ROM," also published by Hendrickson, and the just mentioned "Soncino Classics Edition." For the Jerusalem Talmud, Neusner's translation is the only option. But this is hardly an issue when the translation and commentary are as accurate, complete, and accessible as they are made to be here."
--"Biblical Theology Bulletin"
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