Encyclopaedia of Judaism

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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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Samaritan Judaism

(17,339 words)

Author(s): Crown, A.D.
The Samaritans today are a tiny monotheistic community numbering a few more than six hundred, though at the beginning of the twentieth century they numbered less than two hundred. The growing community today is in two approximately equal parts, one living in the shadow of their sacred mountain, Gerizim, in their ancient, urban nucleus, Shechem, that is today the modern Palestinian and Arab city of Nablus, or in latter years at Kiryat Luzza on the slopes of Gerizim. The other part of the communit…

Sanctification in Rabbinic Judaism

(8,895 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Since Judaism sets forth in its classical statement a regimen intended to sanctify its faithful to form a “kingdom of priests and a holy people,” and since that discipline encompasses matters of what goes into the mouth, not only what comes out, Judaism has to explain the way in which sanctification entails ethics, not only ritual. Because Israelites are commanded to strive to be holy, meaning, separate and pure, people imagine they are encouraged to feel superior to others. That is because peop…

Scripture in Classical Judaism

(4,873 words)

Author(s): Green, William Scott
The Hebrew Bible had a fundamental place in classical Judaism (for modern examples, see figs. 136–138) and constituted an important component of its conceptual background: indeed, no Rabbinic document could have been written without knowledge of Scripture. And yet, the rabbis' exegetical interest in Scripture was not comprehensive. Although they absorbed nearly the whole of Scripture, they commented only on selected parts. Thus, large portions of Scripture, including segments of prophecy and the…

Scripture, Privileged Translations of

(7,440 words)

Author(s): Flesher, Paul V.M.
In antiquity, Jews translated their sacred scriptures into two languages: the Greek translations, called the Septuagint, and the Aramaic translations, called the targums. Jews were the first in the Mediterranean world to translate their sacred texts, and they used these translations to study and teach about their relationship with God, to define their world view, and to carry out their liturgical practices. The earliest translated document was the Pentateuch, rendered in Greek in the third century b.c.e. and followed later by the rest of the Hebrew Bible. The translatio…

Sephardic Judaism

(8,015 words)

Author(s): Larsen, Kevin S.
At least since the first century c.e., Jews have lived in Iberia. These people, the Sephardim, took their name from Sepharad, what they called the Peninsula on which they made their home for the centuries to come. Their provenance, both temporal and geographical, remains a subject of debate. Some prominent Sephardic families claim their ancestors were in the lands that became Spain and Portugal since the Babylonian captivity, at the time of the destruction of the first Temple. Whether these ancestors …

Sermons in Medieval and Early Modern Judaism

(12,226 words)

Author(s): Saperstein, Marc
The sermon is here defined as an act of oral communication, ordinarily within the context of a public religious event, in which a selected individual expounds the meaning of a scriptural passage or some other classical Jewish text in a manner intended to address the intellectual or spiritual needs of the listeners. Secondarily, the sermon is a text that represents that act of communication in a form accessible to later readers. The standard medieval Hebrew term for this genre is derashah; the most common term for the one who delivers the sermon is darshan; the verb “to preach” is li-derosh. A…

Sermons in Modern Judaism

(13,203 words)

Author(s): Saperstein, Marc
The focus here is on preaching in Britain and the United States by representatives of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements (though not by the Ultra-Orthodox, whose Yiddish and—in Israel—Hebrew preaching is a very different tradition). (179) Limits of space in comparison to the breadth of the topic make it is unrealistic to attempt to survey all of Jewish preaching in the modern period. From the middle of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the tw…