Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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25
ZAFREN / JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIAS
The Index of 200,000 entries seems at least acceptable to all but
one reviewer—to some it is innovative and excellent (13, 12)—but
that one (14) finds it “riddled with . . . mistakes and incon-
sistencies.” I find this adverse opinion much overstated. There
probably should have been more cross references within the text
and more human editing of the computer-generated Index. There
is also legitimate criticism of the tables of abbreviations (10), the
“glossary” that appears in each volume (14) and the translitera-
tion (10). The bibliographies in
EJ
vary a great deal in quality
and usefulness; too many seem to have been done haphazardly
by the authors of the articles or by unqualified editorial assistants.
The subject specialists who report on the Bible division of
EJ
(5, 10) find useful contributions in various areas, even masterful
treatments of individual books of the Bible, valuable sections in
archaeology and history. But they deplore the treatment of bib-
lical religion, law, and ethics, and record the dangers inherent
in
EJ’s
allowing the bias of individual contributors to be un-
edited. While a wide spectrum of views is available to the reader
who reads all, the variant views do not, but should, appear side
by side within many articles.
The lengthy articles on “Hebrew Language” and “Hebrew
Grammar” are mostly good (10), but the proofreading is very
poor in rather critical situations. While the unnamed
Time
re-
viewer says that
EJ
has a “treatise on Jesus that Christians would
do well to read” (3), the master of the Second Jewish Common-
wealth period, Solomon Zeitlin, finds little good (8). He criti-
cizes the articles “Shavuot,” “Pharisees,” “Messiah,” “Zea-
lots,” and others as being ambiguous, misleading, and full of
errors of fact. In Talmudic Studies, Jacob Neusner (5) finds ex״
cellent articles on literary subjects like “Mishnah” and poor
articles on historical subjects like “Tanna” and on Talmudic
figures. In Jewish Law, too, we have varying opinions and obvious
inconsistency in the
EJ.
Jewish ethics is poorly covered (12), and there is inconsistency
in the coverage of historic theology and philosophy (6). Every-
one agrees that Scholem’s monograph on “Kabbalah” is a high
point of the whole encyclopedia, but Mysticism generally does
not maintain the same level. There is considerable feeling that
Judaism, especially non-Orthodox Judaism, is not well done (12).
Interfaith activity is weak and the emergence of Christianity