Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 11:1 (NA 2001)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period: 450 bce to 600 ce. Edited by J. Neusner and W. S. Green. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1996. Repr. as one vol. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999. xxvi + 693 pp. ISBN 1-56563-458-6. $59.95.

Hendrickson Publishers have provided biblical scholars and scholars of Judaica a great service by reprinting the Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, edited by Jacob Neusner and William Scott Green. This sturdy, one-volume, casebound reprint puts into the hands of scholars a reliable, critical source that is much, much easier to use than the older Encyclopaedia Judaica (1972) and the badly dated turn-of-the-century Jewish Encyclopedia (1901). But what makes the new Dictionary by Neusner and Green so effective is that it focuses on Judaica of the biblical period and on Judaica that is relevant to biblical and related research. The other, older encyclopedias treat all things Jewish, with the result that one must sift through a great deal of material to find that which is relevant to biblical study. But even more important, the new Dictionary by Neusner and Green is current and critical. Treatment of rabbinic literature in the older encyclopedias is frequently uncritical.

The new Dictionary covers the “biblical period,” which is understood as spanning roughly one millennium, from 450 bce to 600 ce. Why this period? The editors explain in the preface (p. vii):

The “biblical period” of the title of this Dictionary refers not to the time of which the Bible speaks but to the era during which the sacred writings of both Judaism and Christianity were formulated and canonized, in other words, from about 450 bce, when the Pentateuch as we know it was formulated, to the closure of the Babylonian Talmud around 600 ce. The Dictionary therefore covers the age in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed, the Jewish philosopher Philo wrote his books, the Jewish historian Josephus composed his histories, the books comprising the New Testament were written and the Christian Bible, covering the Old and New Testaments, was canonized, and the time in which the classical writings of Judaism beyond the scriptures took shape: the Mishnah, Tosefta, the two Talmuds, and a score of Midrash collections.

The new Dictionary has articles on Scripture, biblical figures (e.g., Abraham, Moses, Ezra), archaeology (e.g., Judea, Galilee), the Dead Sea Scrolls, intertestamental literature, the Targums, all of the rabbinic literature that was published in the period covered, many of the rabbinic aut...

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