Page 161 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Lifetime ofReading
the fight over their publication, see Lawrence Schiffman,
ing the Dead Sea Scrolls
(JPS)and Neil Asher Silberman,
In the area of classical Rabbinic Judaism there have been numer­
ous publications in the last ten years, but two stand out as most no­
table. First, we have the ongoing project to publish in English Adin
Steinsalz’s edition (with his commentary) of the Talmud. Stein-
salz’s mission to make the Talmud available to non-specialists is
greatly advanced by this marvelous enterprise. This is available
through Random House in a number of handsome volumes,
though it is years away from completion.
Second, we saw in this decade the long-awaited English transla­
tion of
Sefer HaAggadah,
the great anthology of midrash and ag­
gadah by Bialik and Ravnitzky. Translated by the late William
Braude, the book appears as
The Book ofLegends
in a beautiful edi­
tion from Schocken. It is worth noting that many other transla­
tions of Rabbinic sources have appeared in these years. Included in
this list is a unique work: the Hebrew novelist S. Y. Agnon’s mag­
nificent collection of various midrashim about the giving of the
Torah. This has been translated beautifully by Michael Swersky in
a volume entided
Present at Sinai
(JPS). The poet David Curzon
has produced a fascinating anthology of poetry written about Bib­
lical themes, a kind of modern midrash collection with both Jewish
and Gentile poets included,
Modem Poems on the Bible
In my earlier essay I wrote about the monumental work in Jew­
ish mysticism done by the great Gershom Scholem. In these past
ten years Scholem’s student Moshe Idel has emerged as a worthy
successor to the master and his many books, most importantly,
Kabbalah: New Perspectives
(Yale), have begun to reconceptualize
our understanding of Jewish mysticism. In a more popular vein I
should note the little anthology done by an American scholar of
mysticism, Daniel Matt,
The Essential Kabbalah
(Harper San Fran­
cisco), and the journalistic exploration ofJewish spirituality in our
times by the poet Roger Kamenetz,
The Jew in the Lotus
Theology or the search for spiritual meaning has been a topic
that has also garnered considerable attention in this decade. The