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Book Reviews 141 The concluding brief chapter asks about the social meaning of the Talmudic exercise. From Neusner's perspective, a number of things have been accomplished. Maybe most important, the Talmud's dialectics ha~e created an inclusive community based on human reason. In this community, holder,s of diverse opinions have been empowered to articulate their opinions and so both join into the conversation and subject their views to open debate. So everyone is included. Beyond this, the Talmud has created a legacy of generations of students who have, through their own study, joined into this community of discourse. Thus Talmudic rhetoric has succeeded in creating a transhistorical and enduring community. It has, in Neusner's words, turned "the world into a class room, the holy people into disciples, and culture into a concrete exemplification of abstract and reliable truth" (p. 154). While this book can be read on its own, it can also be seen as a gathering together and summation of much previous work done by Neusner on the Talmud and its argumentation. Neusner has in fact taken care in the footnotes to point the reader to his prior publications on the Talmud and its rhetoric and organization. This book can also be read as part ofan emerging body ofwork in the general area ofscience and religion. In this regard, it can be contrasted to other publications, especially Rational Rabbis: Science and Talmudic Culture, by Menachem Fisch, which try to make the same point, although without the depth ofrhetorical analysis. In the end, Neusner has made a simple claim, backed by systematic demonstration, that at least for the Talmudic sages reasoned logic on the natural world-the hallmark ofmodern science-and religious philosophy are not mutually exclusive, but can work together to create a compelling vision of the world and its sacred order. Peter J. Haas Department of Religious Studies Vanderbilt University Das Judentum und der romische Staat: Minderheitenpolitik im antiken Rom, by Karl L. Noethlichs. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1996. 250 pp. DM 68.00. Noethlichs begins with the interesting proposition-interesting because he sees it as self-evident, though a Canadian might not-that every state with significant minority populations must find a balance between preserving its own identity and granting sufficient freedom to the "others" within. (But is a state's own identity something static?) He offers Roman-era Judaism as an example of this problem in antiquity. Acknowledging the vast literature on aspects of ancient Judaism, he presents the distinctive character of his study as its concern to look in from the outside: ancient 142 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 Judaism will be examined from the perspective ofthe Roman authorities, in the context oftheir larger policies toward minorities. Specific questions to be answered (below) are: (1) How and when did the Romans first come to know the Jews? (2) What knowledge about the Jews circulated in the Greco-Roman world? (3) How were the Jewish cult, history, and way oflife esteemed? (4) How were individual Jews and Jewish communities treated with respect to the law? (5) What were the grounds ofconflict between Jews and gentiles in Diaspora Judaism? And (6) what effect did the Christianization of Roman society have on the official treatment of the Jews? Ifmany ofthese questions are familiar to students ofJudaism in the Greco-Roman world, Noethlichs' chapter divisions emphasize his ambition to sustain a Roman perspective. So, for example, the opening survey of sources puts aside both rabbinic literature and non-literary evidence as having little to say about the ways in which Romans saw the Jews. Noethlichs makes astute deductions from the rest (including lost and fragmentary Jewish authors writing in Greek, Philo and Josephus, lostNear-Eastern works concerning the Jews, and Greek authors). He notes, for instance, that the absence of works on the Jews in Latin indicates the region and social level targeted by Jewish authors (namely, das griechsprachige Bildungsbiirgertum); he makes a brief case for the widening influence ofthe Greek translations ofHebrew scripture on gentile readers; and he considers the motives for gentile interest in the Jews (namely, the roles played by Jews in wars after Alexander, and simple curiosity about different ways...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 141-144
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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