Page 172 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
problems in science, technology and medicine elucidating the ap­
proach o f Judaism.
We shall now proceed to comment on selected titles on Jewish
law published in English in the past decade approximately.
The
Principles of Jewish Law
, edited by Menachem Elon (Jerusalem,
Keter, 1975), offers a concise view o f the jurisdictional system in
Judaism. It presents an expertly organized compilation o f 158
articles, authored by law scholars, practicing jurists and
historians, which appeared in the 16-volume
Encyclopaedia
Judaica
(1972). The materials are arranged according to eight
categories, each further subdivided into units o f subject-matter:
I. “The sources o f law” (seven units); II. “General” (11 units); III.
“Laws o f property” (13 units); IV. “Laws o f obligation; torts” (24
units); V. “Family law and inheritance” (27 units); VI. “Criminal
law” (39 units); V II. “Jurisdiction, procedure, evidence and exe­
cution” (15 units); V III . “Public and administrative law; conflict
o f law” (7 units). The editor’s introduction (15 units) is in itself a
masterpiece o f scholarship in the classification and history o f
Jewish law. The student proficient in traditional codes, like
Maimonides’ “Yad” or Caro’s “Shulhan Arukh,” will be quick to
note the similarities between these classic compendia and aca­
demic schemata o f jurisprudential materials. The usage o f rab­
binic legal terminology — concepts like asmakhta, Beth Din,
hazakah, herem, etc. — helps in the transition from talmudic
scholarship to a substantive comprehension o f jurisprudence as
taught in the universities. Among the summary volumes on
various topics in the
Encyclopaedia Judaica,
published by Keter,
Elon’s
Principles
is o f the foremost value to scholars and lay read­
ers alike.
COMPARAT IVE STUDY
Jewish Law and Decision-Making,
by Aaron M. Schreiber
(Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1979), presents a broad
historical review o f Jewish law in operation. The work is divided
into three broad segments: 1. Earliest Near-Eastern strata o f
what later was incorporated in biblical legislation, followed by de­
velopments during the First Temple, through the period o f re­
turn o f the Babylonian Exiles and their reconstruction o f the Sec­
ond Temple (c. 2200 B.C.E. — c. 350 B.C.E.); 2. Jewish law dur­
ing the Second Jewish Commonwealth, including Hellenistic and