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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 204 Reviews not maintained between the two types of criteria in the presentation of the discourse types. Having saved the best for the last, it is a pleasure to say that Longacre's analysis of the verbal system is generally on the mark. There can be no doubt today that the waw-consecutive plus (short) imperfect (or whatever terms one may prefer) is the primary device for noting "foregrounding" (or "story-line" action as Longacre calls it, or "ProgreS" as it is being called in German) in a perfective-aspect discourse, that the mirror-image form (waw-consecutive plus perfect with final accent) is used in imperfective -aspect discourse, that the volitive sequences have their own sets of rules (with some overlap with the imperfective system), and that all other clause types provide various types of "backgrounding." One could quarrel with Longacre's term "preterite" for the narrative form, for that term in English implies past tense, whereas the Hebrew system is primarily aspectual . But as a handy one-word term for a form that will frequently function as does the English preterite it is useful. In summary, I would have wished for a more rigorous distinction between the literary and religious/historical value of a text and between the morpho-semantic markers of literary structure and literary/rhetorical criteria . The analysis of the morpho-semantic structures themselves, however, is excellent and should serve as a basis for further studies of this kind. The author is to be congratulated for carrying us so far forward in this work. Dennis Pardee University ofChicago Chicago, 1L 60637 EARLY RABBINIC WRITINGS. By Hyam Maccoby. Cambridge Commentaries on Writings of the Jewish and Christian World 200 Be to AD 200, vol. 3. pp. xxiv + 245. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1988. Paper. In this volume the author ostensibly demonstrates great erudition and shows extensive knowledge of a myriad of details of rabbinic literature. The flyleaf makes ambitious claims on behalf of this volume such as, "Hitherto there has been no easy way for a student to grasp the scope and Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 205 Reviews variety of the relevant rabbinic writings." The book will "enable the reader to embark on further study with a clearer orientation" and will "correct many mistaken views about rabbinic Judaism." Unfortunately the book does not fulfill these promises. It suffers from severe shortcomings and, therefore, does not serve the interests of the disciplines of Judaic studies, or the concerns of the enterprises of Jewish theology, or Jewish-Christian dialogue. Maccoby begins with a forty-eight page essay treating the idea of the Oral Torah in an apologetic quasi-theological fashion. In discussing the canonicity of rabbinic literature he posits a populist origin for Mishnah. His exposition on the style of rabbinic writings occupies one page and makes no mention of form analysis as a tool of exegesis. Most American graduate students in religious studies could provide more critical and informed summaries of the state of these questions. Maccoby then discusses the Pharisees, Sadducees and rabbis, the differences between Halakah and Haggadah, Haggadah and Midrash, Mishnah and Midrash. He briefly characterizes some of the major individual works of rabbinic literature: Mishnah, Tosefta, Targumim, Liturgy, and the Midrashim. In a six-page outline of the "main rabbinic figures" and a twopage summary of the main ideas of early rabbinic literature, Maccoby presents an uncritical composite of various rabbinic materials. The level of sophistication and breadth of vision of this treatment is remarkably poor. Part 2 of the book presents Maccoby's translation of selected passages from the literature with his comments. The English rendering is by and large acceptable though it fails to capture the formal traits of the literature. In some cases the translation is awkward, to wit, the Evening Shemac may be recited "until the shaft of dawn goes up" (p. 53). In his explanations of passages the author often leaves statements unexplained. In the preceding instance regarding m. Ber. 1:1 he says, "An important principle of rabbinic legislation emerges," but we are not told what this was. The author fails to point out that this passage exemplifies several major rabbinic literary forms such as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 204-207
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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