Torah Through Time: Under­stand­ing Bible Com­men­tary From the Rab­binic Peri­od to Mod­ern Times

Shai Cher­ry
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

This book pro­vides a high­ly read­able, engag­ing intro­duc­tion to Jew­ish bib­li­cal inter­pre­ta­tion. The purview of the top­ic is very wide, encom­pass­ing clas­si­cal rab­binic texts — the Tal­mud and the Amora­ic midrashim—along­side medieval Jew­ish philoso­phers, Hasidic mas­ters and con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Jew­ish writ­ers. Writ­ten for col­lege stu­dents, all texts are trans­lat­ed into acces­si­ble Eng­lish and the bib­li­og­ra­phy is lim­it­ed to rel­e­vant but user-friend­ly” items. 

Cherry’s method in this book com­bines sev­er­al inno­v­a­tive ele­ments. His analy­sis always begins with the nuances of the bib­li­cal text. Mov­ing quick­ly between ancient and mod­ern opin­ions, he shows how they all stem from dif­fer­ent under­stand­ings of the verse. The bib­li­cal top­ics cho­sen are fas­ci­nat­ing, includ­ing both nar­ra­tive and legal sec­tions. Fre­quent use of illus­tra­tive tables makes the hermeneu­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties clear­er. In this way, his expo­si­tion becomes both method­olog­i­cal and fascinating. 

Torah Through Time is writ­ten in a snap­py, enter­tain­ing style, with many ref­er­ences to pop­u­lar cul­ture, and quo­ta­tions from a con­tem­po­rary sage named Meshi,” who (the bib­li­og­ra­phy reveals) is none oth­er than Cher­ry him­self. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, glos­sary, notes. 

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