The eminent Judaica scholar Jacob Neusner provides here the first form-analytical translation of the Mishnah. This pathbreaking edition provides as close to a literal translation as possible, following the syntax of Mishnaic Hebrew in its highly formalized and syntactically patterned language. Demonstrating that the Mishnah is a work of careful and formal poetry and prose, Neusner not only analyzes the repeated constructions but also divides the thoughts on the printed page so that the patterned language and the poetry comprised in those patterns emerge visually.
“After the Hebrew Scriptures, the Mishnah is the first canonical document of Judaism and stands at the head of the paramount and continuing expression of Judaism—law, hence theology — from its time to ours.” (Page xii)
“Samaritan women are deemed menstruants from their cradle.” (Page 1082)
“The Mishnah’s message is that what a person wants matters in important ways. It states that message to an Israelite world which can shape affairs in no important ways and speaks to people who by no means will the way things now are. The Mishnah therefore lays down a practical judgment upon, and in favor of, the imagination and will to reshape reality, regain system, reestablish that order upon which trustworthy existence is to be built.” (Page xvii)
“This brings me to the three concrete matters worth protracted attention (as mere history is not): (1) the specific modes of discourse attained by the Mishnah; (2) the system of world building laid forth in the Mishnah; and (3) the interplay between that system and the massive heritage of Scripture which lay behind the Mishnah. These three things—language, system, heritage—have now to be explained.” (Page xviii)
“‘And all learning of Torah which is not joined with labor is destined to be null and cause sin.” (Page 675)