Jew­ish Text

The Tal­mud: A Selection

Nor­man Solomon, trans. and ed.
  • Review
By – October 31, 2011
Jew­ish adult learn­ers and stu­dents of reli­gion will wel­come Nor­man Solomon’s new Tal­mu­dic anthol­o­gy. Though oth­ers before Solomon have endeav­ored to make Judaism’s foun­da­tion­al text acces­si­ble to the unini­ti­at­ed, The Tal­mud: A Selec­tion, is arguably the best intro­duc­to­ry book to date. Its con­cise and eru­dite intro­duc­tion skill­ful­ly presents the Talmud’s his­tor­i­cal ori­gins and devel­op­ment, as well as pro­vides a con­cep­tu­al frame­work for under­stand­ing this unique genre of Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. The pur­pose of the anthol­o­gy is less to sum­ma­rize the rab­binic tra­di­tion than to cap­ture the process of inter­pre­ta­tion and con­ver­sa­tion that under­lies Judaism’s for­ma­tion and evo­lu­tion. Empha­siz­ing the Talmud’s mul­ti­fac­eted and mul­ti­vo­cal char­ac­ter, Solomon has cho­sen rep­re­sen­ta­tive selec­tions from each of the Talmud’s 63 trac­tates. Some selec­tions focus on law, oth­ers on bib­li­cal inter­pre­ta­tion, yet oth­ers on rab­binic sto­ry, the­ol­o­gy, and cus­tom. Selec­tions are pre­sent­ed in a uni­form­ly cod­ed, read­able style to assist the read­er in fol­low­ing the flow of the text. Chap­ters are briefly intro­duced, and all terms and con­cepts are suc­cinct­ly expli­cat­ed. The Tal­mud: A Selec­tion will serve as a won­der­ful tex­tu­al resource for Jew­ish con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion class­es, uni­ver­si­ty cours­es, and the inter­est­ed lay read­er. Appen­dices, bib­li­og­ra­phy, glos­sary, indices, map, timeline.
Ben­jamin J. Samuels, rab­bi of Con­gre­ga­tion Shaarei Tefillah in New­ton Cen­tre, MA, teach­es wide­ly in the Greater Boston area. He is also a doc­tor­al stu­dent in the Sci­ence, Phi­los­o­phy and Reli­gion” Pro­gram in the Depart­ment of Reli­gion at Boston University.

Discussion Questions