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Rashi: The Greatest Exegete (Annotated) Kindle Edition
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The Jewish Bible was already old during that amazing century in which Jesus, Gamaliel, Hillel and Paul lived, and which saw the destruction of the Second Temple, the rise of rabbinical Judaism, and the emergence of Christianity. Until that time all Biblical scholarship was oral, but after the destruction of the Temple and everything else that was occurring, rabbis--which is to say, scholars--began to write commentaries on the Bible and other kinds of works. Rashi became one of the greatest rabbinical scholars, not just of his day, but of any day.
This biography was written over a century ago, and it reads like it. In other words, its slow going, and generally not organized as we expect today. On the other hand, if you work through it, you will be well rewarded. Author Liber places Rashi in the Jewish community of his day and time, and just as importantly, places that Jewish community in the context of Christian Europe. Liber tells us about the man, his character, and what we do know of the kinds of details we want in a biography. Liber also relates some of the fantastic tall tales and legends that survive about Rashi, and if he does so wryly, its because he realizes those kind of tales tell us something important too about a man and his times too. Rashi's lifetime coincided with the Norman Conquest of Britain and the first Crusade; Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was born a half-century later, but not far away. That amazing time is part of what made all of us who we are today.
Rashi belongs to a very rarefied and select group of scholars whose work is important after nine hundred years not only because of its influence over the centuries, but as a resource material that is as indispensable today as it was then for the serious study of the Bible. No Jew can study their Bible seriously without Rashi's commentaries. Rashi is not important only or mainly because of his influence on Christian Biblical scholarship from his own day to ours, but that influence is as great as it is generally unrecognized.
I like Rashi, and I like this book about him.
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