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A Short History of the Hebrew Language
Hebrew as a language is just over 3,000 years old, and the story of its alphabet is unique among the languages of the world. Hebrew set the stage for almost every modern alphabet, and was arguably the first written language simple enough for everyone, not just scribes, to learn, making it possible to make a written record available to the masses for the first time.
Written language has existed for so many years—since around 3500 BCE—that most of us take it for granted. But as Hoffman reveals in this entertaining and informative work, even the idea that speech can be divided into units called “words” and that these words can be represented with marks on a page, had to be discovered. As Hoffman points out, almost every modern system of writing descends from Hebrew; by studying the history of this language, we can learn a good deal about how we express ourselves today.
Hoffman follows and decodes the adventure that is the history of Hebrew, illuminating how the written record has survived, the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient translations, and attempts to determine how the language actually sounded. He places these developments into a historical context, and shows their continuing impact on the modern world.
This sweeping history traces Hebrew's development as one of the first languages to make use of vowels. Hoffman also covers the dramatic story of the rebirth of Hebrew as a modern, spoken language.
Packed with lively information about language and linguistics and history, In the Beginning is essential reading for both newcomers and scholars interested in learning more about Hebrew and languages in general.
Essays on Jesus Christ in the Early Church in Honor of Brian E. Daley, S.J.
The early centuries of the Christian church are widely regarded as the most decisive and influential for the formation of the church’s convictions about Jesus Christ. The essays in this volume offer readers a fresh orientation, and ground-breaking analyses, of the figure of Jesus in late antiquity. Written by historians and theologians who examine the thought of leading theologians, Latin and Greek, from the second through the seventh centuries, these essays honor and complement the scholarship of Brian E. Daley, Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. While most discussions still confine patristic Christology to its conciliar trajectory, this volume broadens our horizons. The essays gathered here explore aspects of early Christology that cannot be narrowly confined to the path marked by the ecumenical councils. The contributors locate Jesus within a rich matrix of relationships: they explore how early Christian theologians connected Jesus Christ to their other doctrinal concerns about God, the gift of salvation, and the eschaton, and they articulate how convictions about Jesus Christ informed numerous practices, including discipleship, martyrdom, scriptural interpretation, and even the practice of thinking well about Christ.
Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine
The story of how the Holocaust decimated Jewish life in the shtetls of Eastern Europe is well known. Still, thousands of Jews in these small towns survived the war and returned afterward to rebuild their communities. The recollections of some 400 returnees in Ukraine provide the basis for Jeffrey Veidlinger’s reappraisal of the traditional narrative of 20th-century Jewish history. These elderly Yiddish speakers relate their memories of Jewish life in the prewar shtetl, their stories of survival during the Holocaust, and their experiences living as Jews under Communism. Despite Stalinist repressions, the Holocaust, and official antisemitism, their individual remembrances of family life, religious observance, education, and work testify to the survival of Jewish life in the shadow of the shtetl to this day.
Nicholas of Lyra and Christian Reading of Jewish Text in the Later Middle Ages
In the year 1309, Nicholas of Lyra, an important Franciscan Bible commentator, put forth a question at the University of Paris, asking whether it was possible to prove the advent of Christ from scriptures received by the Jews. This question reflects the challenges he faced as a Christian exegete determined to value Jewish literature during an era of increasing hostility toward Jews in western Europe. Nicholas's literal commentary on the Bible became one of the most widely copied and disseminated of all medieval Bible commentaries. Jewish commentary was, as a result, more widely read in Latin Christendom than ever before, while at the same moment Jews were being pushed farther and farther to the margins of European society. His writings depict Jews as stubborn unbelievers who also held indispensable keys to understanding Christian Scripture. In The Insight of Unbelievers, Deeana Copeland Klepper examines late medieval Christian use of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish interpretation of Scripture, focusing on Nicholas of Lyra as the most important mediator of Hebrew traditions.
Klepper highlights the important impact of both Jewish literature and Jewish unbelief on Nicholas of Lyra and on Christian culture more generally. By carefully examining the place of Hebrew and rabbinic traditions in the Christian study of the Bible, The Insight of Unbelievers elaborates in new ways on the relationship between Christian and Jewish scholarship and polemic in late medieval Europe.
Jewish Thought in a Century of Crisis
Jewish Thought in a Century of Crisis
Michael L. Morgan
Probes the impact of the 20th century on Jewish belief and practice.
Confronting the challenges of the 20th century, from modernity and the Great War to the Holocaust and postmodern culture, Jewish thinkers have wrestled with such fundamental issues as redemption and revelation, eternity and history, messianism and politics. From the turn of the century through the 1920s, European Jewish intellectuals confronted alienation and the challenges of modernity by seeking secure grounds for a meaningful life. After the Holocaust and the fall of Nazism, the rich results of their thinking -- on topics such as transcendence, redemption, revelation, and politics -- were reinterpreted in an atmosphere of increasing disillusion and fragmentation. In Interim Judaism, Michael L. Morgan traces the evolution of this shift in values, as expressed in the work of social thinkers, novelists, artists, and poets as well as philosophers and theologians at the beginning and end of the century. Focusing on the problem of objectivity, the experience of the transcendent, and the relationship between redemption and politics, he argues that the outcome for contemporary Jews is a pragmatic style of religiosity that has abandoned traditional conceptions of Judaism and is searching and waiting for new ones, a condition that he describes as "interim Judaism."
Michael L. Morgan is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of Platonic Piety and Dilemmas in Modern Jewish Thought (Indiana University Press). He has edited The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim; Classics in Moral and Political Theory; Jewish Philosophers and Jewish Philosophy (Indiana University Press); and A Holocaust Reader: Responses to the Nazi Extermination. With Paul Franks, he has translated and edited Franz Rosenzweig: Philosophical and Theological Writings.
Published with the generous support of Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati
128 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
cloth 0-253-33856-5 $35.00 L /
Melvin traces the emergence and development of the motif of angelic interpretation of visions from late prophetic literature (Ezekiel 40–48; Zechariah 1–6) into early apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch 17–36; 72–82; Daniel 7–8). Examining how the historical and socio-political context of exilic and post-exilic Judaism and the broader religious and cultural environment shaped Jewish angelology in general, Melvin concludes that the motif of the interpreting angel served a particular function. Building upon the work of Susan Niditch, Melvin concludes that the interpreting angel motif served a polemical function in repudiating divination as a means of predicting the future, while at the same time elevating the authority of the visionary revelation. The literary effect is to reimagine God as an imperial monarch who rules and communicates through intermediaries—a reimagination that profoundly influenced subsequent Jewish and Christian tradition.
Levinas and Infinite Responsibility
“The essential theme of my research is the deformalization of the notion of time,” asserted Emmanuel Levinas in a 1988 interview, as he approached the end of his long philosophical career. But while the notion of time is fundamental to the development of every key theme in Levinas’s thought — the idea of the infinite, the issue of the alterity of the other, the face of the other, the question of our ethical relations with other people, the role of fecundity, speech and language, and radical responsibility — his view of time remains obscure. Yael Lin’s exhaustive look at Levinas’s primary texts, both his philosophical writings and his writings on Judaism, brings together his various perspectives on time. Lin concludes that we can, indeed, extract a coherent and consistent conception of time from Levinas’s thought, one that is distinctly political. First situating Levinas’s views against the background of two of his most influential predecessors, Henri Bergson and Martin Heidegger, The Intersubjectivity of Time demonstrates that Levinas’s interpretation of time seeks to fill a void created by the egological views those thinkers emphasized. For Levinas, time is neither considered from the perspective of the individual nor is it a public dimension belonging to everyone, but it occurs in the encounter between the self and the other person, and the infinite responsibility inherent in that relation. Yet Levinas himself is surprisingly vague as to how exactly this relation to the other person creates time’s structure or how it is experienced in our everyday lives, and he does not make an explicit move from this intersubjective ethical dimension to the broader collective-political dimension. Lin offers a unique perspective to address this crucial question of the political dimension of Levinas’s project. By turning to Levinas’s talmudic writings and examining aspects of Jewish life, traditions of communal prayer, and ritual, Lin sketches out a multivocal account of time, deepening Levinas’s original claim that time is constituted via social relationships. This imaginative and evocative discussion truly opens the subject to further research.
Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States, Israel, and Europe are tenuous. Jews and Muslims struggle to understand one another and know little about each other's traditions and beliefs. Firestone explains the remarkable similarities and profound differences between Judaism and Islam, the complex history of Jihad, the legal and religious positions of Jews in the world of Islam, how various expressions of Islam (Sunni, Shi`a, Sufi, Salafi, etc.) regard Jews, the range of Muslim views about Israel, and much more. He addresses these issues and others with candor and integrity, and he writes with language, symbols, and ideas that make sense to Jews. Exploring these subjects in today's vexed political climate is a delicate undertaking. Firestone draws on the research and writings of generations of Muslim, Jewish, and other scholars, as well as his own considerable expertise in this field. The book's tone is neither disparaging, apologetic, nor triumphal. Firestone provides many original sources in translation, as well as an appendix of additional key sources in context. Most importantly, this book is readable and reasoned, presenting to readers for the first time the complexity of Islam and its relationship toward Jews and Judaism.
Vanessa Ochs invites her readers to explore how Jewish practice can be more meaningful through renewing, reshaping, and even creating new rituals, such as naming ceremonies for welcoming baby girls, healing services, Miriam's cup, mitzvah days, egalitarian wedding practices, and commitment ceremonies. We think of rituals -- the patterned ways of doing things that have shared and often multiple meanings -- as being steeped in tradition and therefore unalterable. But rituals have always been reinvented. When we perform ancient rituals in a particular place and time they are no longer quite the same rituals they once were. Each is a debut, an innovation: this Sabbath meal, this Passover seder, this wedding -- firsts in their own unique ways. In the last 30 years there has been a surge of interest in reinventing ritual, in what is called minhag America. Ochs describes the range and diversity of interest in this Jewish American experience and examines how it reflects tradition as it revives Jewish culture and faith. And she shows us how to create our own ritual objects, sacred spaces, ceremonies, and liturgies that can be paths to greater personal connection with history and with holiness: baby-naming ceremonies for girls, divorce rituals, Shabbat practices, homemade haggadahs, ritual baths, healing services. Through these and more, we see that American Judaism is a dynamic cultural process very much open to change and a source of great personal and communal meaning.
Bible, Philosophy, and the Art of Translation
Jews from all ages have translated the Bible for their particular times and needs, but what does the act of translation mean? Aaron W. Hughes believes translation has profound implications for Jewish identity. The Invention of Jewish Identity presents the first sustained analysis of Bible translation and its impact on Jewish philosophy from the medieval period to the 20th century. Hughes examines some of the most important Jewish thinkers -- Saadya Gaon, Moses ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Judah Messer Leon, Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig -- and their work on biblical narrative, to understand how linguistic and conceptual idioms change and develop into ideas about the self. The philosophical issues behind Bible translation, according to Hughes, are inseparable from more universal sets of questions that affect Jewish life and learning.