A d F o n t e s

(Latin: "to the sources")

…And Neusner Responds.

image One of the most common rumors about Jacob Neusner–quite possibly the most prolific scholar ever in any discipline–is that his graduate students do the lion’s share of his work, and that the reason he has published over 600 books is that most are recycled anyway.  Until now, I’ve only ever heard one scholar come to Neusner’s defense on this this charge:  once a student in Seth Schwartz’s survey course on ancient Judaism laid it, and Schwartz said said it was untrue. 

This rumor was once again reitterated concerning Neusner’s latest translation of a Bavli tractate (Bava Batra) over on Biblicalia. Yet here in the comments Neusner himself defends–and it’s pretty amusing.  He lists what he translates and delineates it from where he received aid from students.  Check it out. 

For my own part, I’ve generally been a Neusner supporter.  The man really is brilliant.  Sometimes I’ve wished he’d slow down because it would improve his work.  But the man has to be credited for making such a large volume of rabbinic literature accessible in English.  His method of breaking down the Bavli into dialog format, I think, was a great idea.  Anyone who’s studied it before for the first time knows how difficult it can be to figure out when a discussion begins, ends, and where speakers change from one to another.  Having it broken down in English is a real help.  It’s better than Soncino.  And all this aside from starting a major revolution in rabbinic studies in his work on the Mishnah. 


February 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments