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The Transformation of Judaism: From Philosophy to Religion

The Transformation of Judaism: From Philosophy to Religion

Jacob Neusner

| Wipf & Stock | 2004

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An eminent scholar of the history of Judaism, Jacob Neusner shows how Judaism changed from a philosophy to a religion between 200 and 400 C.E. The Transformation of Judaism is a work both revolutionary in its method and unprecedented in its results. Comparing earlier and later sets of Judaic writings, Neusner sets forth how philosophy—abstract, elegant, orderly, and intellectual—turned into religion—tangible, down-to-earth, chaotic, and concrete. In the process, he offers an account of the birth of Judaism that has become normative. Moreover, Neusner’s methodology can be applied to the study of religions other than Judaism because it examines the underpinnings of how a society sees the world (philosophy), orders itself (politics), and sustains itself (economics).

Author Bio

Jacob Neusner (1932–2016) was a preeminent scholar of ancient Judaism and one of the most published authors ever, with more than 900 original volumes to his name. He was educated at Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Oxford, and Yale University. He was research professor of theology and senior fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. Neusner’s work has been highly influential, if sometimes controversial. He pioneered applying “form criticism” to Rabbinic texts, and aimed at a humanistic and academic reading of ancient Jewish literature.

Nesuner’s works include the Jacob Neusner Jewish Studies Bundle (99 vols.).