on January 6, 2014
Louis Ginzberg [1873-1953] was the most prominent Aggadist of his time. His book is a monument of Jewish scholarship and erudition. It is focused on legends recorded in Rabbinic commentaries of the Bible and not on folklore.
He has used mostly Midrashic material from the Talmud of era 2nd century-14th century. The book is filled with interesting tidbits concerning beliefs about Creation, Adam, the 10 generations, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, the sons of Jacob, Job, and Moses in Egypt.
My particular subject of research concerns connections between legends of ancient Judaism and ancient Veda / Yoga. This book has been a goldmine. In the first section, Ginzberg discusses the Rabbinical belief in seven heavens and seven earths. Ancient yogis in India had an identical belief along with many other similarities. The number of connections are too numerous to be a coincidence.
One niggling problem – of no fault of the author – is that this volume contains no endnotes. For that you have to purchase another book. The added difficulty is in pairing those notes with the correct chapter in the current book. However, those notes are themselves invaluable and in my view indispensable. To get them, you will need to purchase the Legends of the Jews, Volume 5, Notes from Volumes 1 and 2.
Full disclosure: I’m a peer-reviewed researcher on connections between ancient yoga and modern science, as well as between ancient yoga and the Bible. ~ Sanjay C Patel, SanjayCPatel.com
on December 20, 2012
Unfortunately, this reprint does not contain any of the incredibly helpful notes that Ginzberg provided in the original edition. I could understand needing to purchase the separate volume of notes, but there wouldn't be any way of telling what endnote belongs to what passage. This volume is nice if you are just curious to read it as an interesting story but lacks the tools the earlier version has that allow you to trace which midrashim he pulled for where.
on August 12, 2010
My wife is the owner of this book and will use it as a reference but it comes highly recommended by a Catholic biblical scholar here in the Denver, Colorado region. Dr. Tim Gray has used the book as a reference and recommended it to my wife, Linda on our recent trip to the Holy Land, which was guided by Dr. Gray.