The Mishnah: A New Translation Reprint Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300050226
ISBN-10: 0300050224
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Paperback, January 23, 1991
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Language Notes

Text: English, Hebrew (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1207 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (January 23, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300050224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300050226
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Neusner has compiled the translations of several of his students in this work. There is an unevenness to the quality of translation. Some tractates are well-translated and others seem to lack the idiomatic quality which one who reads Hebrew understands in the original. Prof. Neusner is to be complemented for arranging the mishnayot in each perek in such an manner that they resemble the way they were learned in the oral academies of old and are still learned among students in modern yeshivot. As a second edition to compliment an already existing translation on your booksehlf I would heartily recommend it. If you're looking for that first copy of the Mishnah for your library get Danby's translation (Oxford Univ. Pr.) or Blackman's Hebrew/English (Judaica Pr.).
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By John Arthur Smith on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jacob Neusner's translation of the Mishnah (which he undertook in collaboration with several of his pupils) was first published in 1988. It is a landmark among modern popular translations of ancient Rabbinic texts, and has rapidly become a standard work, taking its place alongside the earlier English translations by Herbert Danby and Philip Blackman.

Unlike those earlier translations, however, Neusner's approximates in English the particular flavour of the eliptical, laconic style of the original. For the first time, English-speaking readers can gain an insight into how the Mishnah says what it says, without the paraphrases and glosses of Danby and Blackman.

But Neusner's approach to the translation has its price. First, the text does not flow like Danby's translation. Readers are made starkly aware that the Mishnah is a compilation of teachings, not a work of literature. Second, the terse, eliptical style results from the Mishnah's being written originally for readers who understood not only the subject matter but also the set of the minds that considered it and the milieu that cradled it. There is therefore much in the text that is taken for granted, and uninitiated readers can feel at a disadvantage.

To meet the needs of the uninitiated, however, Neusner provides an extensive introduction. This places the Mishnah in context and explains its purpose. It is a mine of information presented with the clarity and simplicity of style which only the greatest scholars command. Indeed, the introduction is valuable for the expert as well as the novice.

In short, this is an important work. Its value lies in two particular areas: the non-paraphrastic style of the translation that imitates as closely as reasonably possible the style of the original, and the extent and quality of the background material provided in the Introduction.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By William G. Dauster on May 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
It all started with the Hebrew Bible. The Mishnah collected interpretations of the Bible by Rabbis in the first two centuries of the Common Era. The Mishnah formed the basis for yet more interpretation -- called Gemara -- by more Rabbis between then and roughly 500 C.E. The Mishnah and the Gemara together form the Talmud, the foundation of Jewish law ever since.

The Mishnah is thus a very important book to Judaism. Harold Bloom (in Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine) thinks of it as a Jewish New Testament. But for all its significance, the Mishnah is far less easy to come by than the New Testament. Other complete Mishnah editions in English translation range from more than $160 for Herbert Danby's one-volume 1933 translation The Mishnah or the out-of-print Blackman Mishnayoth (6 Volume Set) to $400 or more for Mishnayot Kehati: Complete 21-volume Boxed Set (make sure to check for the English translation) to $975 for the top-of-the-line ArtScroll Mishnah Series now at 39 volumes and growing. (Wait for ArtScroll's annual 20-percent-off sale if you want to buy that set.) Neusner's edition performs a great service by making the complete Mishnah more widely accessible to English readers.

One of the tricks to understanding the Mishnah is placing it in the context of Jewish law and literature.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Wannabee on February 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The translation is rather weak for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is superficial and gives the reader the wrong understanding of the Mishna because it is not thorough. For example, in the very last Mishna in Uktzin, Shammai and Hillel's explanations of when a fish is susceptible to impurity are readily understood. However, since the translation does not even bother to explain the view of Rabbi Akiva, the reader will misunderstand the third vew. Only if one looks in Danby or Blackman would one understand that R. Akiva means the opposite. The fact that the translation is broken up into a different letter for each clause is clearly artificial too, because no outline form is provided. The lettering is just haphazard and random. The lack of clarity and superficialness is buttered with an extensive introduction as to why this translation is so superior to Danby's because it allows one to understand the original "form" of the Hebrew. But would good is the form if the content is untouched?
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