Jacob Neusner (1932-2016), Jewish-American scholar

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Jacob Neusner (1932-2016) was a Jewish-American scholar of Early Jewish Studies, a prolific author and a pioneer in the application of the “form criticism” approach to Rabbinic texts.


Born in Hartford, CT in 1932, Neusner studied at Harvard University (AB 1960), and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (MA 1960). He earned hi PhD in 1961 at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary.

He taught at Columbia University, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Brandeis University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, the University of South Florida, and since 1994, Bard College (Annandale-on-Huston, NY), USA.

A prolific author, respected scholar and professor, and ordained rabbi, Neusner has written or edited hundreds of books on Judaism and is widely celebrated as one of the most published authors in history. "He was a pioneer in the application of the “form criticism” approach to Rabbinic texts. Much of his work consisted of de-constructing the prevailing approach viewing Rabbinic Judaism as a single religious movement within which the various Rabbinic texts were produced. In contrast, Neusner viewed each rabbinic document as an individual piece of evidence that can only shed light on the more localized forms of Judaism of each specific document’s place of origin and the specific Judaism of the author. His work “Judaism: The Evidence of the Mishnah” (Chicago, 1981; translated into Hebrew and Italian) is the classic statement of his work and the first of many comparable volumes on the other documents of the rabbinic canon." (The Jewish Press.com).

Editor of the Encyclopedia of Judaism (Brill, 1999. I-III) and its Supplements; Chair of the Editorial Board of The Review of Rabbinic Judaism; Editor-in-Chief of The Brill Reference Library of Judaism. Editor of Studies in Judaism (University Press of America). Neusner was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He was the only scholar to have served on both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Edited volumes


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