Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

Basic HTML Version

JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
24
begun abroad bu t completed in this country. I t still maintains
its position as a work of reference w ithout which the study of
the language of the Talmud would be more difficult than it is
now. This, to a lesser degree, is also true of Marcus Jas trow ’s
Dictionary of the Targumim
,
The Talmud Babli and Jerushalmi
and the Midrashic literature
(London, 1886-1903). Both works
have gone through several editions and have made possible a
better understanding of the language employed in rabbinical
texts.
Michael L. Rodkinson’s venture to translate into English the
Babylonian Talmud (New York, 1896-1902) was disappointing.
Neither the editor nor his collaborators were competent for the
task. I t remained for British Jewry to perform the task with
good taste, skill, sound scholarship and fine style (London,
Soncino, 1935-1952). American scholars shared in the translation,
which found a large market in this country. American scholarship
also took a leading role in establishing scientific principles for fixing
the accuracy of early rabbinic texts.
Tractate Taanit of the Baby-
Ionian Talmud
, critically edited by Henry Malter, was published
by the American Academy for Jewish Research (New York, 1930),
while his popular edition of the same text, provided with an
English translation and notes (Philadelphia, 1928), was included
in the Schiff library of Jewish classics. Louis Ginzberg’s edition
of
Yerushalmi Fragments from the Genizah
(New York, 1909)
presented a model worthy of emulation. His sumptuously pub-
lished
Commentary on the Palestinian Talmud
, of which only the
first three volumes have thus far appeared (New York, 1941) is,
no doubt, the greatest work of its kind.
An outgrowth of Dr. Ginzberg’s studies in rabbinical lore is
the remarkable collection of
The Legends of the Jews
(Philadelphia,
1909-1928), a monumental work in seven volumes in which extra-
ordinary talent is displayed in the presentation of the classical
folklore of the Jews in a popular manner calculated to serve the
need of the general reader. I t is supplemented with learned
notes of interest to the scholar. The enormous legendary lore
of the Jews revolving around biblical events and personalities
culled from a variety of sources, Jewish and non-Jewish, is brought
together in systematic order and presented readably and interest-
ingly. Like
The Jewish Encyclopedia
, this work, too, yielded
a vast amount of material upon which many a literary work
has been based.
The Geonim continued the tradition of Jewish learning which
the sages of the Talmudic era developed. Their writings and
the conditions under which the Geonim flourished are not suffi-