Encyclopaedia of Judaism

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
General Editors: Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck and William Scott Green

The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers more than 200 entries comprising more than 1,000,000 words and is a unique reference tool.  The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers an authoritative, comprehensive, and systematic presentation of the current state of scholarship on fundamental issues of Judaism, both past and present. While heavy emphasis is placed on the classical literature of Judaism and its history, the Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online also includes principal entries on circumcision, genetic engineering, homosexuality, intermarriage in American Judaism, and other acutely contemporary issues. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it reflects the highest standards in scholarship. Covering a tradition of nearly four thousand years, some of the most distinguished scholars in the field describe the way of life, history, art, theology, philosophy, and the practices and beliefs of the Jewish people.

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Midrash and the Oral Torah: What Did the Rabbinic Sages Mean by “the Oral Torah”?

(6,030 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Rabbinic Judaism classifies its canonical writings as parts of “the Oral Torah” revealed by God to Moses at Sinai and transmitted from then to late antiquity in a process of tradition from master to disciple. Part of that process of tradition is held to involve a work of exegesis of Scripture in light of oral tradition. A precise understanding of Midrash in the context of formative Judaism therefore requires attention to the relationship of the Torah-myth involving the dual Torah, written and or…

Miracles in Judaism, the Classical Statement

(6,386 words)

Author(s): Avery-Peck, Alan J.
Extraordinary events that have no possible human or natural cause are recognized in the Hebrew Bible and in later forms of Judaism as deriving from the direct intervention of God in the human sphere. In the Rabbinic literature, such occurrences are referred to simply by the term nes, signifying a “wondrous event” and roughly comparable to the English term “miracle.” 1 In the Hebrew Bible, by contrast, events that violate the natural order much more commonly are designated as “signs” ( otot, mofetim), 2 a term that points to the distinctive role miracles play in ancient Israeli…

Mishnah, Analogical-Contrastive Reasoning in

(10,501 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The paramount mode of reasoning in the halakhic process, represented by the Mishnah, can be referred to as “analogical-contrastive.” The logic may be expressed very simply. All persons, things, or actions that fall within a single species of a given genus in a uniform system of classification follow a single rule. All persons, things, or actions that fall within a different species of that same given genus in a uniform system of classification follow precisely the opposite rule. Stated in gross …