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The Jewish Quarterly Review, XCII, Nos. 3-4 (January-April, 2002) 620-622 Ephraim E. Urbach. Collected Writings in Jewish Studies. Edited by Robert Brody and Moshe D. Herr. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1999. Pp. xviii + 582. During his lifetime Professor Ephraim Elimelech Urbach published five books and well over one hundred academic articles. For good reason, he is considered by many to be the most important scholar of rabbinic life and literature in the postwar period. No one who deals with such subjects as rabbinic thought, the development of halakhah or the history of medieval rabbinic literature, as well as dozens of other more narrowly focused but significant subjects, can fail to be impressed by Urbach's combination of deep erudition and incisive analysis. We are fortunate indeed that Robert Brody and Moshe D. Herr took upon themselves the task of editing Urbach's English and French essays in this volume published by Magnes Press. We are further fortunate in that they, together with Mrs. Hannah Urbach, have found five previously unpublished papers and have included them in this volume. Also worth noting is that two papers which originally appeared in Hebrew and whose English translations were not originally considered suitable have been revised for this collection. Likewise, the comments Urbach added to the republication of some of his Hebrew essays in The World ofthe Sages: Collected Studies (Jerusalem, 1988) have been added to their translations here. The articles in this volume are preceded by the editors' preface and a short intellectual biography of Urbach written by Moshe Herr, and followed by a list of the original publication data and detailed indices. The articles themselves are divided into four groups as follows. (Previously unpublished or revised essays are marked as such.) Seven essays are included in "Part I: The Halakha and Life": "Halakha and Religion" (unpublished); "Humanistic Aspects of Jewish Law"; "Halakha and History"; "The Laws Regarding Slavery as a Source for Social History of the Period of the Second Temple, the Mishnah and Talmud"; "The Rabbinical Laws of Idolatry in the Second and Third Centuries in the Light of Archaeological and Historical Facts" (revised); "Halakha et réalité dans la vie des Juifs de France au moyen-âge" (unpublished); "The History of Polish Jews after World War I as Reflected in the Traditional Literature." "Part II: Aggadah and Polemics" contains six essays: "Self-isolation or Self-Affirmation in Judaism in the First Three Centuries: Theory and Practice"; "Redemption and Repentance in Talmudic Judaism"; "Treasures Above"; "The Role of the Ten Commandments in Jewish Worship"; "The Homiletical Interpretations of the Sages and the Expositions of Origin on Canticles and the Jewish-Christian Disputation"; "Etudes sur la littérature polémique au moyen-âge." URBACH, WRITINGS IN JEWISH STUDIES—MILIKOWSKY 62 1 "Part III: Types of Leadership" contains five essays: "Between Rulers and Ruled—Some Aspects of the Jewish Tradition"; "Prophet and Sage in the Jewish Heritage" (unpublished); "The Talmudic Sage: Character and Authority "; "Class-Status and Leadership in the World of the Palestinian Sages"; "The Death of Joab: Political History in the Eyes of the Sages" (revised). Four essays are included in "Part IV: Jewish Studies": "Jewish Studies —Status and Problems"; "Jewish Studies and the Jewish Community" (unpublished); "Academic Research and Religious Scholarship" (unpublished ); "The Search of the Past." A perceptive reader of this collection will note at once two major leitmotifs in Urbach's work: First, the interplay of texts and their history within their social contexts; and second, the interplay of the study of ancient texts and contexts with the living world of Judaism and the Jewish people. Interestingly, these leitmotifs are much more evident in Urbach's papers and essays than in his books. Already in his justly celebrated review of Isaac Heinemann's Darkhei Ha-Aggadah, which appeared in Qiryat Sefer 26 (1949-50) 223-228, Urbach underscored the necessity of reading texts in their historical and social contexts. Urbach has occasionally been criticized for not distinguishing between the subject of his research and his own system of beliefs and values. The correct response to such criticism is of course to point to the implausibility of any scholar writing anything of lasting value without invoking, consciously...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0604
Print ISSN
0021-6682
Pages
pp. 620-622
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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