The Sources Of Judaism

A Rabbinic Anthology, by C. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe (Schocken, 1974, 961 pp., $20, $7.50 pb), is reviewed by William Sanford LaSor, professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

The Old Testament closes prior to 400 B.C. The New Testament opens around the turn of the era. The literature of Judaism—the Talmud, comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara—came into existence in the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era. Both Christianity and Judaism claim the Old Testament, but what happened in the centuries following the close of the Old Testament that led to the development of Judaism? We, as Christians, know—or think we know—what happened that led to the development of Christianity. We sometimes forget that Christianity was at first considered to be a Jewish sect (Acts 24:5, 14; 28:22), and although we confess that Jesus Christ was born a Jew according to the flesh (cf. Rom. 1:3), we usually make no effort to understand his Jewish background. We do little better when it comes to understanding the Apostle Paul.

A Rabbinic Anthology is a selection of passages from the Mishnaic and Talmudic literature arranged according to topic. The work was originally published just after Montefiore’s death in 1938 (Loewe died in 1940) and truly deserves to be reprinted in this clear and easy-to-read form. The editors were an unusual pair, for Montefiore says plainly, “I am a Liberal Jew,” whereas Loewe states, “I am an Orthodox Jew, but I am not a fundamentalist.” From time to time there is interaction between the two positions in their notes to the text, but always there is tremendous respect for the other and for his views. As a result we get to see something of the ways in which ...

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