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Everyman's Talmud Hardcover – June, 1975

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Talmud is among the great books of wisdom--like the Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita--whose citation gives a speaker instant credibility. Also like the Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita, the Talmud is a powerful source of allusion in large part even though so few people have really read it. People don't read the Talmud because they think it's inaccessible--the sprawling collection of rabbinic writings is added to in each generation, and its significance is nothing less than the summary of Judaism. The best guide to the Talmud's labyrinthine form is Abraham Cohen's Everyman's Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages--a monumental work of scholarly summary that describes all the basic doctrines of Judaism. Everyman's Talmud includes concise chapters on everything from sin to superstitions to a Jew's duty to animals. You probably won't be able to read it straight through--doctrine, even elegantly distilled, is hard to take in big doses--but you'll be led back to it again and again, by questions that arise in daily life, at dinner parties, and from the pages of the daily newspaper. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Long regarded as the classic introduction to the teachings of the Talmud, this comprehensive and masterly distillation summarizes the wisdom of the rabbinic sages on the dominant themes of Judaism. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: E P Dutton (June 1975)
  • ISBN-10: 0525101012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525101017
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,374,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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151 of 152 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Abraham Cohen's _Everyman's Talmud_ was the first complete English introduction to the Talmud when it was published in 1928. So far as I know, it has never been surpassed.

It is admirably thorough. In about 400 pages Rabbi Cohen hits all the major Talmudic themes: God and man, revelation, Jewish practice including ethics and jurisprudence. Filled with well-chosen quotations and explicated by Rabbi Cohen's crisp, scholarly expository prose, the volume is not at all a quick and easy read; you will want to take your time with this one. But your efforts will be well repaid.

Not that I'm an expert myself -- but if I had to pick just one introductory volume on the Talmud for those who simply want to know what it says, this would be it. Highly recommended as an overview of rabbinic theology. (My own copy is the 1967 edition, so I can't comment on Jacob Neusner's introduction.)
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143 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Brucia on January 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a landmark - "a comprehensive survey of the doctrine of this important branch of Jewish literature... a summary of the teachings of the Talmud..." in the words of its author. Jacob Neusner's "foreword" describes it as the "first classic introduction of the Talmud to the English language." As Neusner states: "The greatness of Cohen for the beginner is that he tells us the single most important thing we can know about the Talmud, which is what it says." Abraham Cohen was born in 1887 and died in 1957. His work is a groundbreaking opus that was originally published in 1931; he revised it in 1948. (In 1931 the Talmud had not yet been translated into English!) Neusner's foreword, as well as Cohen's original 23-page introduction, are marvelous and deserve intensive re-reading. (Just one example of Cohen's support for the novice is his practice of defining words: e.g. Talmud = "study"; Halachah = "walking", the way of life to tread in conformity with the precepts of the Torah., and so on.) The only weak area in the foreword and introduction is that of history. (Here I found the perfect remedy: part 1 of Adin Steinsaltz's book `The Essential Talmud' - also available through Readers should be aware that Cohen's book is not organized as is the Talmud: you will NOT find the six orders (seder) divided into tractates (masekhet) and chapters (periqim). Instead he divides this great work into 11 chapters: (1) The Doctrine of God, (2) God and the Universe, (3) The Doctrine of Man, (4) Revelation, (5) Domestic Life, (6) Social Life, (7) The Moral Life, (8) The Physical Life, (9) Folk-Lore, (10) Jurisprudence, and (11) The Hereafter.Read more ›
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful introduction to the traditions of post exilic Judaic thought. It is divided into chapters that make sense (topically) to those of us not familiar with the Talmudic and Rabbinical writings themselves. Cohen covers all the most important traditional ideas from the Talmud, including mystical elements like folklore and magic. Contains an excellent index.
Christians will find this book very eye-opening in terms of understanding the New Testament, particularly with regard to discussions in the NT about the traditions of men. It also includes a thorough history of the names and dates and key players in the development of modern Judaism. It helped me separate the facts from the theories. Be sure to read all the front matter: the foreword, the preface by Cohen, and the introduction. If you don't, you will not fully appreciate the contents in the remaining chapters.
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Micehlle D. Seymour on August 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
As most of the reviews say: For it's time, this is a great achivement and it is an easy-to-read introduction to the Talmud. It's chapters are easy to follow and it is well indexed.

Still, I find it lacking in some very important ways. The Talmud is a collecion of rabbinic discussions on mishna (oral tradition), halachah (law) and Torah. This version of the talmud gives us a "unified vision" of what history has to say on any given subject and is in effect a very condensed work. The author took pains to find "the essence" of decision on theses subjects. He achives this and should be commended. Still.....

This, in my opinion, goes against the very nature of the Talmud, which is opinion and discussion over the ages. The text only in some instances gives the rabbinic author, and does not provide refrences to the era in which the writting was done. For the beginner or someone who is not of Jewish origin, this may be helpful by providing something more streamlined. Still, if a Jew has a question about what a particular Rabbi's opinion was, they will be hard pressed to find it.

Finally, I find in both the introduction and the forward an bend to the language. Passages such as, "So he [the author] had to make up his own program. He did this by following the standard theological program of mainstream Protestant Christian theology and locating statements on the topics of that program made in the Talmudic writings." (Neusner, pg. xv) worry me that the work may have an unintended Christian leaning. This is not a fault neccessarily, and in fact may help those Christians who are looking for more during their studies--my hat's off to you!

For a Jewish student though, this could be a bit of a turn-off.
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