Page 171 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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During this period Lieberman published
which exam­
ined the polemic literature o f Karaites and Christians in o rd e r to
illumine the meaning and text o f rabbinic writings. He also pub­
Midreshei Teiman
in which he showed that Yemenite trad i­
tions include material which was la ter lost. He also published an
edition o f the classic
Midrash Devarim Rabbah,
in which he proved
that there were two versions o f this midrash on Deuteronomy: a
Sephardic one and an Ashkenazi one. These works and many
articles which appeared in the scientific literature established
Lieberman as one o f the preem inen t scholars o f ou r time.
The Jewish Theological Seminary o f America invited him to be
Professor o f Talmud . He accepted this invitation, even though it
was in the midst o f World War II. He reached the United States
via Ind ia and began teaching at this distinguished cen te r o f learn­
ing. In 1942 he published his first English book,
Greek in Jewish
in which he demonstrated the influence o f Greek litera­
ture on talmudic writings. This influence was shown to extend to
the science and mythology o f the rabbis as well as to their
hermeneutical principles. Eight years later he published the twin
Hellenism in Jewish Palestine.
In these books, Lieberman
not only exhibits his vast knowledge o f rabbinic lore, bu t also his
mastery o f Greek classical and popu lar literature. He established
without question that the rabbis did not opera te in a cultural
vacuum, but lived in a rich culture which they knew and utilized
in the ir talmudic discourses.
In the forties Lieberman published
Hilkhot ha-Yerushalmi
o f
Maimonides, a large Genizah fragmen t which he identified as a
summary o f the
rulings assembled by Moses
Maimonides to serve as a base for a work on the laws o f the
This was published with extensive notes, marking an
important event in Jewish scholarship — the uncovering o f a new
work by the g rea t medieval master.
Lieberman then devoted his energies to what he considered his
magnum opus,
a large comprehensive commentary on the
He never completed this work though he published the
Zera’im, Mo’ed, Nashim,
the last ju s t a few days before
his death. This commentary is unique in rabbinic literature for its
amazing comprehension and detail. T he commentary consists o f