Saturday, November 19, 2005

Neusner on the Pentateuch

I started reading Jacob Neusner's Transformations in Ancient Judaism. It's fairly dense material and I wish he footnoted his work (the book does not include any references). His basic thesis is that the creation/formation/redaction of the Pentateuch, Mishnah, and Talmud/Midrash were in response to crises experienced by ancient Jews.

His work doesn't lend itself to pithy quotes, but this one ain't bad:
[T]he Torah extended the range of the covenant to even humble matters of ordinary, everyday life: sanctification of the here and now. The human condition takes on a heightened intensity when God cares what you eat for lunch, on the one hand, but will reward you for having [chosen] suitable food, on the other.
As a side grouse, the book doesn't appear to be edited at all, and I find myself distracted by typos. And with that, I am off to freeze on the Virginia shore of the Potomac.