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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The Biblical Foundations of Judaism

(5,058 words)

Author(s): Davies, Philip R.
The Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, as a single narrative, constitute the primary canon of every ancient Judaism known to us. They contain an account of the creation of a polity, Israel. Having set out the adventures of humans from a single creature (Adam) in a restricted environment (a garden) to a set of nations distributed throughout the world, the narrative depicts the creation of one particular family (Abraham's). First it depicts the ancestor on his way from the core (Mesopotamia) to …

The Dead Sea Writings

(10,026 words)

Author(s): Maier, Johann
Medieval sources report about book scrolls found near the Dead Sea. It seems probable that the extant Geniza fragments of the Zadokite Documents and of the Hebrew Ben Sira represent remains of copies made from scrolls similar to them. These were found by Beduins in 1947 in caves near Khirbet Qumran, and it is there that, during subsequent archaeological campaigns, the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls were located (figs. 51–52). These consist primarily of leather pieces of various sizes, sewn together to for…

The Dead Sea Writings, The Judaism(s) of

(10,536 words)

Author(s): Davies, Philip R.
Attempts to define the Judaism practiced at Qumran have on the whole been in vain, the result of a substantial lack of proper methodology. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were first studied, it was assumed that all the non-biblical ones were homogeneous in their content and constituted a single sectarian library. In this approach, their authors' doctrines, treated as uniform, could be discovered by reading across the manuscripts. Once identified, these doctrines could be contrasted with the beliefs of…

Theodicy in Classical Judaism

(6,606 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The term theodicy refers to a justification of the ways of God, the proof that—despite what might appear to be the case—God's justice governs the world order. The need for such a proof comes about by reason of the character of monotheism . For, while a religion of numerous gods finds many solutions to one problem, a religion of only one God presents one to many. Life is seldom fair. Rules rarely work. To explain the reason why, polytheisms adduce multip…

Theodicy of Judaism II: Justifying Individual Fate

(9,290 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The ultimate anomaly of a logic animated by the principle of God's rational justice comes to realization in the actualities of everyday life. That God orders the world through justice accessible to human reason confronts the everywhere acknowledged obstacle: justice prevails only now and then. Man's fate rarely accords with the fundamental principle of a just order but mostly discredits it. But if the human condition embodied in Israelites' lives one by one defies the smooth explanations that se…

Theodicy of Judaism I: The Moral Order, Reward, and Punishment

(7,422 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Theodicy means justifying God's deeds within the Torah's theology. The theodicy of Judaism is Judaism, defining as it does the generative issue of the entire theological system that animates the documents of Rabbinic Judaism from the first through the seventh centuries c.e. That issue is how one all-powerful God can be deemed just given the state of Israel, his people, in the world? 1 The parameters of the problem are readily discerned when we contrast monotheism with polytheism. Theodicy therefore presents a particular problem to monotheism. Life is seldom…

Theological Anthropology of Judaism

(6,802 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Humanity not only complements God, but also corresponds to, is like, God. When sages read in the Torah that humankind is created in God's image, they understood that to mean, God and humans correspond, bearing comparable traits. The theological anthropology of the Oral Torah defined correspondence between God and humans in three ways: [1] intellectually, sharing a common rationality; [2] emotionally, sharing common sentiments and attitudes, and [3] physcally, sharing common features. That is why…

Theology, Biblical—The Religious System of the Ancient Israelite Scriptures

(8,398 words)

Author(s): Illman, Karl-Johan
The word “theology,” consisting of the Greek roots theós, “God,” and lógos, “word,” “knowledge,” or “doctrine,” means “knowledge of God.” Since the Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly speak about daat elohim—“knowledge of God” (Hos. 4:1; 6:6; cf., Num. 24:16; Is. 53:11; Jer. 22:16), God's will, and God's ways—there can be no question that Scripture presents theological statements. The issue, rather, is whether Scripture can be said actually to formulate this “knowledge” in the manner of theological doctrines, allowing us rightly …

Theology of Judaism—Halakhah and Aggadah

(5,667 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
The normative law, or Halakhah, of the Oral Torah defines the principal medium by which the Rabbinic sages of antiquity founded set forth their message. Norms of conduct, more than norms of conviction, served to convey the sages' statement. But the exposition of matters of religious belief, or Aggadah, undertakes a critical task as well, so that the Halakhah and the Aggadah together set forth the whole theology of Judaism. One without the other leaves the work incomplete. The theology of the Written and Oral Torah—that is, Judaism—conveys the picture of world order based …