Page 171 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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SIEGEL / SAUL LIEBERMAN
165
During this period Lieberman published
Sheki’in,
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
lished
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.
GREEK AND HELLENIST INFLUENCES
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
Palestine,
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
volume,
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
Yerushalmi
rulings assembled by Moses
Maimonides to serve as a base for a work on the laws o f the
Yerushalmi.
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
Tosefta.
He never completed this work though he published the
Tosefta
to
Zera’im, Mo’ed, Nashim,
and
Nezikin,
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