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Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 25.4 (2007) 217-224

Book Notes

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

Transmitting Mishnah: The Shaping Influence of Oral Tradition, by Elizabeth Shanks Alexander. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 246 pp. $75.00. ISBN 0-521-85750-3.

Departing from the conventional view of mishnaic transmission as mindless rote memorization, Elizabeth Shanks Alexander shows how transmitters and handlers of mishnaic text crafted both the vagaries of expression and its meanings. She identifies the study practices and habits of analysis that were cultivated by oral performance and shows how they were passed on in tandem with the verbal contents of the Mishnah, thereby influencing how the text was received and understood.

Biography, Autobiography, Memoirs, Diaries, Film

Being For Myself Alone: Origins of Jewish Autobiography, by Marcus Moseley. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005. 650 pp. $70.00. ISBN 0-8047-5157-9.

This book traces the origins of Jewish autobiographical writing from the early modern period to the early twentieth century. Drawing on Hebrew and Yiddish texts, very few of which have been translated into English, and on contemporary autobiographical theory, the author provides an explanatory paradigm for the emergence of the Jewish autobiographical voice.

"Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear, by Tim Jon Semmerling. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. 303 pp. $22.95. ISBN 0-292-71342-8.

This book is a film study written to encourage the American cinematic audience to look with a more critical eye at the depictions of "evil" Arabs and to call forth a differentiation between the Arabs as-they-are-portrayed and the Arabs as-they-are. This book encourages its readers to [End Page 217] scrutinize the characters and to discover our self-interested construction of the visual or the narrative: to see visual tropes that are often made through intertextuality and polarities of good and bad.

He Also Spoke as a Jew: The Life of the Reverend James Parkes, by Haim Chertok. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2006. 516 pp. $30.00. ISBN 0-85303-645-4.

This biography of James Parkes, a dedicated Gentile fighter against antisemitism, focuses on the formative influences on this important but neglected thinker. Tracing his career as a maverick historian and clergyman, it analyzes how his ideas and commitments interacted with the twists and turns of his personal life.

History and Politics

The Jews in Sicily. Vol. 8: 1490–1497, by Shlomo Simonsohn. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Pp. 4533–5214. $269.00. ISBN 90-04-15283-0.

This last volume in the first of the series Documentary History of the Jews in Italy illustrates the history of the Jews in Sicily from 1490 to 1497. It is the sequel to the first seven volumes and covers the events during the rule of the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella, following the unification of Spain: the last years leading up to the expulsion, the expulsion itself, and a few events in its aftermath.

The Jews in Sicily, Vol. 9: Corte Pretoriana and Notaries of Palermo, by Shlomo Simonsohn. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Pp. 5217–6073. $279.00. ISBN 90-04-15493-0.

This volume of the Documentary History of the Jews in Italy is the first of the second series, illustrating the history of the Jews in Sicily based on notarial and court records. It is the sequel to the eight volumes of the first series. Notarial deeds drawn up by public notaries in Palermo and elsewhere and cases brought before the Pretorian Court in Palermo present a kaleidoscopic picture of the private lives of the Jews of Sicily during the last three centuries of their presence on the island.

The Jews in Sicily. Vol. 10: Notaries of Palermo, Part One, by Shlomo Simonsohn. Leiden: Brill, 2007. Pp. 6075–6805. $297.00. ISBN 978-90-04-15762-0.

This volume is the second of the second series. [End Page 218]


Fire in the Ashes: God, Evil, and the Holocaust, edited by David Patterson and John K. Roth. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006. 336 pp. $45.00. ISBN 0-295-98547...


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