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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Political Theology of Judaism: What Do the Classical Sources of This Religion Say about Politics?

(10,692 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Scripture, the Mishnah, and the Talmuds set forth a profoundly political conception of religion. The Pentateuch portrays Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy people,” and further takes for granted that the that “kingdom” or “people” forms a political entity, capable of exercising legitimate violence. By “Israel,” the social entity brought into being by those that accepted God's rule set forth in the Torah, Instruction, of Sinai, Scripture therefore understands not merely a church or a volu…

Politics, Judaism and, [II] in Medieval and Modern Times

(8,848 words)

Author(s): Elazar, Daniel J.
The Jewish people and its religious and political traditions span at least 3300 years, perhaps 500 more. During this period, Jews have comprised a tribal polity, an enslaved caste, a simple agrarian republic, a state that was also a regional power, a community in exile, an imperial province, a vassal state, a revolutionary polity, a congeries of dispersed communities bound together by a common law, a set of co-religionists, an ethnic group, and, today, a modern state. While each of these configu…

Politics, Judaism and, I: The Normative Statement in Scripture and the Talmud

(5,068 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The political theory of Judaism emerges in the Hebrew Scriptures of ancient Israel as these writings are interpreted by the rabbis of the first six centuries c.e. in the Talmud of Babylonia and related documents. The Pentateuch portrays Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy people” and further takes for granted that this “kingdom” or “people” forms a political entity, exercising legitimate violence. Scripture therefore understands Israel not merely as a church or a voluntary community but an empowered society, with …

Preface to First Edition (EJ)

(3,367 words)

The Encyclopaedia of Judaism provides a full and reliable account of the religion, Judaism, beginning in ancient Israelite times and extending to our own day. About Judaism, the religion, its diverse history, literature, beliefs past and present, observances, practices and world-view, and place in the context of society and culture, this is what we know. In context and proportion, here is how we think we know it. All principal topics required for the systematic description of any religion—[1] the w…

Preface to Second Edition

(755 words)

This new edition of The Encyclopaedia of Judaism nearly doubles the original 3-volume edition in size. It includes fifty-two previously unpublished entries (approximately half a million words) in addition to the entries from the two separately published supplementary volumes. The project now is comprised by more than 225 entries, two and a half million words. Alongside the many gaps in the initial The Encyclopaedia of Judaism that the new entries fill, bibliographies have been updated for all the entries. The result is that this new edition presents what we c…

Pseudo-Philo, Biblical Characters in

(10,109 words)

Author(s): Murphy, Frederick J.
The Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (LAB) of Pseudo-Philo retells the biblical story beginning with Adam and ending with Saul's death. Its genre is “rewritten Bible.” 1 Its author is called Pseudo-Philo because the text was passed down with the Philonic corpus, although it is clearly not by Philo of Alexandria. There is general agreement that it comes from the first century c.e., but scholars debate whether it was written before or after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 c.e. LAB freely rewrites the biblical story. In so doing, it uses a variety of biblical and no…

Psychology and Judaism

(13,516 words)

Author(s): Rotenberg, Mordechai
The title of this essay immediately raises the question of the possible relationship between psychology, imagined to be a universal scientific discipline, and Judaism. How, that is, might a profession usually associated with medicine be affected by religion at all? When we recall that our perceptions of psychology as a scientific discipline are still largely shaped by the methodologies of the natural sciences and medicine, 1 we see that this question is no less relevant today than it would have been in the nineteenth century, when psychology was deemed “the o…

Purity and Impurity in Judaism

(10,677 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
In Classical Judaism, purity ( tohorah) and uncleanness ( tum'ah) carry forward Pentateuchal commandments that the holy people, Israel, when eating, procreating, and worshiping God in the Temple, is to avoid certain sources of contamination. The principal one of these is the corpse (Num. 19). Lev. 11, further, catalogues foods that are clean and those that are unclean; Israelites eat the former, not the latter. Lev. 12 goes over the uncleanness that results from childbirth; Lev. 13–14 deal with a skin-ai…