FRIEDMAN, SHAMMA

FRIEDMAN, SHAMMA
FRIEDMAN, SHAMMA (1937– ), Talmud scholar. His publications over several decades constitute an important contribution to our understanding of the Babylonian Talmud and related literature. He was the first to provide clear and objective criteria for differentiating between different literary and historical strata within the text of the Babylonian Talmud, subsequently applying these criteria systematically in the form of a continuous commentary to an entire chapter of the Babylonian Talmud (Yevamot X, with a General Introduction to the Critical Study of the Talmudic Sugya (1978). The insight that many of the difficulties which have baffled generations of interpreters of the Talmud are rooted in the tensions which exist between these different literary and historical levels led Friedman to a more fundamental and (for some) revolutionary conclusion: that these tensions and difficulties are not the result of errors in transmission, or confusion in the interpretation of earlier tradition, but rather the result of a conscious process of synthetic creative reinterpretation which inheres in every level of talmudic literature, from the earliest tannaitic sources, through the statements of the amoraim, and down to the latest commentaries and additions of the savoraim. While continuing to develop and refine the methodolgy for analyzing and interpreting the different redactional levels within the talmudic text, Friedman went on to apply the notions of "development" and "evolution" to two other scholarly issues: the origin and significance of variant readings (especially in the manuscript tradition of the Babylonian Talmud), and the so-called "synoptic problem," i.e., the existence of and relation among alternative versions of a given textual tradition preserved in different talmudic and midrashic works. The notion that later talmudic sages often self-consciously reinterpreted and reformulated earlier versions of a given tradition has proved to be a powerful tool in solving many formerly intractable problems in the history of talmudic halakhah and aggadah. In addition to the many scholarly articles in which these ideas and methods were developed – including numerous studies in the field of Hebrew and Aramaic linguistics – Friedman's major publications in recent years have included Talmud Arukh, Bava Metzi'a vi: Critical Edition with Comprehensive Commentary (1990 and 1996), published by JTS press, and Tosefta Atikta, Synoptic Parallels of Mishna and Tosefta Analyzed, with a Methodological Introduction (2002), published by Bar-Ilan University. The comprehensive critical methodology which has emerged from Friedman's literary efforts has provided the foundation for a number of important scholarly projects in which he has played a leading role. In 1985, Friedman founded the Saul Lieberman Institute of Talmudic Research at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, which encourages innovative Talmud scholarship and provides sophisticated tools for its implementation. The Institute today, under Friedman's direction, distributes a computerized database containing the text of almost all surviving Talmud manuscripts, first printed editions and fragments, as well as a computerized page-by-page bibliography of hundreds of books dealing with talmudic literature. The product of decades of work, these resources are aimed at opening new horizons in the field of Talmud Study. In the early 1990s, Friedman established the Society for the Interpretation of the Talmud, a collaborative venture in which a group of scholars has undertaken the preparation of an edition of the Babylonian Talmud with commentary based on scholarly standards and aimed to a wide reading audience. A preliminary volume containing representative analyses of selected talmudic sugyot (Five Sugyot from the Babylonian Talmud) was published in 2002, and the first three volumes covering entire chapters of the Talmud are currently in the press, with preparations for more extensive publications well under way. Friedman also directs an Internet site at Bar Ilan University (developed together with Prof. Leib Moscovitz) devoted to bringing together all the primary textual witnesses of Tannaitic literature, with Tosefta and halakhic midrashim currently represented. Friedman is the Benjamin and Minna Reeves Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary and teaches in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University. He was born in Philadelphia in 1937 and settled in Jerusalem in 1973. He has held a variety of positions at the Seminary, including acting librarian, and editor of Hebrew publications of the Schocken Institute. During the 1970s and 1980s, Friedman was the dean and director of JTS's Jerusalem campus, now known as the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, where he teaches. In addition to his professorship at JTS and Bar Ilan, Friedman has taught at several universities, including Harvard, the Hebrew University, and Tel Aviv University, and has sponsored   more than 25 graduate students in advanced degrees. He was elected to the Israel Academy of the Hebrew Language and the American Academy of Jewish Research, is Talmud division editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, and is a member of the editorial board of Jewish Studies, an Internet journal. (Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • TALMUD, BABYLONIAN — (Heb. תַּלְמוּד בַּבְלִי), a literary work of monumental proportions (5,894 folio pages in the standard printed editions), which draws upon the totality of the spiritual, intellectual, ethical, historical, and legal traditions produced in… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • BARAITA, BARAITOT — (Aram. בָּרַיְתָא, pl. בָּרַיְתוֹת), Aramaic for the Hebrew word ḥiẓonah ( external ) and an abbreviated form of the phrase matnita baraita – external mishnah, i.e., a tannaitic tradition which is not included in the Mishnah of Rabbi judah ha… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Talmud — Rabbinic Literature Talmudic literature Mishnah • Tosefta Jerusalem Talmud • Babylonian Talmud Minor tractates Halakhic Midrash Mekhilta de Rabbi Yishmael (Exodus) Mekhilta de Rabbi Shimon (Exodus) Sifra (Leviticus) Sifre (Numbers Deuteronomy) …   Wikipedia

  • BAVA MEẒIA — (Aram. בָּבָא מְצִיעָא, middle gate ), tractate of the Mishnah, with Gemara in the Jerusalem and babylonian talmuds . Originally Bava Meẓia was not a separate tractate but the second part of the tractate Nezikin (see bava kamma ). Chapters 1 and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • AGGADAH or HAGGADAH — (Heb. הַגָּדָה, אַגָּדָה; narrative ), one of the two primary components of rabbinic tradition, the other being halakhah, usually translated as Jewish Law (see: kadushin , The Rabbinic Mind, 59f.). The term aggadah itself is notoriously difficult …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Tosefta — The Tosefta (Aramaic: תוספתא) is a secondary compilation of the Jewish oral law from the period of the Mishnah.OverviewIn many ways, the Tosefta acts as a supplement to the Mishnah ( tosefta means supplement ). The Mishnah is the basic… …   Wikipedia

  • BAVA KAMMA — (Aram. בָּבָא קַמָּא), tractate of the Talmud, the first of the order Nezikin. Name Bava Kamma was originally not a separate tractate, but the first part of a larger tractate, whose name was identical with the name of the order. The title Bava… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • David Weiss Halivni — David Halivni, American Israeli researcher of the Talmudic and Rabbinical literature, by courtesy of Tzahi Lerner,2009 David Weiss Halivni (Hebrew דוד הלבני) (born 1927) is an American Israeli rabbi, scholar in the domain of Jewish Sciences and… …   Wikipedia

  • Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies — Yarnton Manor, built in 1611, now the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (OCHJS) is an independent institution which is part of the University of Oxford. Its research fellows teach on a… …   Wikipedia

  • AMORAIM — (Aram. אָמוֹרָאִים), designation of the scholars in the Land of Israel and Babylonia who succeeded the tannaim and preceded (in Babylonia) the savoraim and geonim. (See Table: Heads of Academies.) The composition of the Mishnah by R. Judah ha… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”