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From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism [Paperback]

By Jacob Neusner (Author)
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From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism by Jacob Neusner

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Pages   186
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2003
Publisher   Wipf & Stock Publishers
ISBN  1592441491  
ISBN13  9781592441495  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jacob Neusner

Jacob Neusner

Jacob Neusner is Research Professor of Religion and Theology and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. He has published more than nine hundred books and innumerable articles, and he is editor of "The Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period" and the three-volume "Encyclopaedia of Judaism." In addition to his Rabbinic Midrash, he has translated the Mishnah, Tosefta, and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud into English.

Jacob Neusner currently resides in Annandale-On-Hudson. Jacob Neusner was born in 1932 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Bard College Bard College, New York, USA Bard College, New York, USA B.

Jacob Neusner has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Biblical Resource
  2. Christianity and Judaism, the Formative Categories
  3. Studies in Judaism
  4. World Religions in America

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > History of Religion

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Reviews - What do customers think about From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism?

Wings to fly.  Dec 28, 2009
If the black hat yeshiva world is as interested in truth as its leaders claim then every beis medrash (house of study) would contain Rabbi Jacob Neusner's works on Pharisiac Judaism including "From Politics to Piety." Alas, this is not the case at present. Rabbi Neusner takes account of this in the early pages of "From Politics to Piety," remarking that his method of criticism breeds skepticism about some of the words of our holy rabbis. The college-educated are the ones with the mental equipment and encourage able to endure such probing, the author concludes. Most of the black yeshivas will continue in the self-satisfied nether world of "blah, blah, blah...Rashi....blah, blah, blah...Tosefos."
Neusner's tracking of the Pharisees from a political party to a table fellowship is critical but admiring. The author builds on his earlier studies of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. If there was a Mount Rushmore for teachers that have brought the Jewish people from the destruction of the Second Temple to today then Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nassi (editor of the Mishnah) would surely be on it. Chapter 8 of "From Politics to Piety" excellently places these two giants at the head table of kosher Judaism.
The meat of Neusner's book is searching for the Pharisees through the works of Josephus Flavius, the Christian Gospel writers, and the Jewish rabbonim. Although the textual analysis can become somewhat numbing (brace yourself to see the terms "pericopae" and "terminus ante quem" dozens of times) it is worth going through.
Hillel the Elder emerges as the figure that steered the Pharisees away from head-on public political annihilation. But old and bad habits die hard. Rabbi Neusner's broad vision enables us to see the differences in the challenges presented by Greece and Rome. Superficially, they might appear the same, as some Jews in Roman times reckoned, but this was a major error that still rings down the corridors of history. The Syrian-Greeks threatened the practice of Judaism thus the Jews rightly fought and won. Rome was not looking to scuttle Israel's religious life thus war was not obligatory. Yet the Jews fought a nationalistic struggle that had grave consequences. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai and other luminaries of Yavneh and Usha were left to pick up the pieces. Reading "From Politics to Piety" during Chanukah 5770 (2009) made this stand out to me.
The disaster of the Bar Kochba War and Rabbi Akiva's unfortunate endorsement of it paradoxically did great work in moving the Jews away from statist cant and military messianism. But the weeds have grown back in our times, threatening Jewish piety and physically endangering Jews and non-Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere. Read Rabbi Neusner's summary of the Bar Kochba Zealots' mindset and note how closely it resembles the Likud Party view of the world - "...The answer was power, politics, the right to live under one's own rulers, and to stand apart from, and independent of, other nations." (p. 146, 1979 paperback edition).
Rabbi Neusner includes chapters from Morton Smith and J.A. Ziesler on the Pharisees' relationship to the early Church. St. Luke's emphasis on the resurrection of the dead is congruent with Pharisee/Jewish doctrine (we Jews acknowledge it three times daily in the Shemoneh Esreh prayer), the guest authors show us. The Jesus thing will remain a puzzle but common ground is revealed for continuing to grow Jewish/Christian friendship and cooperation. Luke's being the non-Jew among the Gospel writers is significant in showing that Jacob and Esau can be brothers once again.
The greater hostility of Matthew, Mark, and John (all born Jews) to the Pharisees is perfectly yet sadly consistent with Jewish history. Bring those three evangelists together with the Sadducees and Zealots of old and their modern day Zionist spiritual heirs and I hear the wise words of my teacher Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZT"L continuing to ring true - When we (the Jews) need to account for our worst enemies we need not leave our own camp.
In dealing with our Arab/Muslim brothers today the paradigm is the same as with the ancient Romans - "The older shall serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23). This applies to the Arab/Muslim Yishmael as well as to the Roman/Christian Esau. In other words, let the Muslims, Christians et al run the governments of the world. In the fullness of time, if Jews have the courage to vanquish the ghost of the Holocaust and all peoples live with the reality that we are descendants of Abraham, caretakers of his legacy of spirituality and kindliness, then the world will take a joyful turn for the better.
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai charted the course in the days of the Pharisees. May we all find our way to this path.
"In turning the nation into a religious community, in eschewing force, which they did not have, in favor of faith, which they might nurture, and in lending matters of faith, even humble details of keeping the Law - a cosmic, transcendent importance, the Pharisees succeeded in reshaping the life of Jewry in a way appropriate to their new situation." (Neusner, p. 153).
Brown University professor/Rabbi Jacob Neusner, even after writing many books and scanning hundreds of others, caught the key word/concept - Humble. As Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and his five leading disciples show in Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers), humility gives us wings to fly.
"If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself, because that is what you were created to do." (2:9).


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