From History to Religion

  • Jacob Neusner


My work for the past four decades has pursued a single problem, which is, to explain how Judaism as we know that religion came into being. I have wanted to account for its success, when and where it succeeded in its social goals, and to explain the conditions of its failure, when it did not. While a field-theory of the history of Judaism has emerged, my principal interest, beginning to present, has been in the formative age, the first seven centuries AD. Then the books came to closure that together with Scripture (‘the Old Testament’) form the definitive canon of Judaism as we know it. The canon set forth in written form the Judaic way of life, worldview, and theory of the social entity that it called ‘Israel’, this last a theological theory of the social order corresponding to Christianity’s ‘mystical body of Christ’. The work of description, analysis, and interpretation has carried me across four academic disciplines within the study of religion, in an overlapping sequence of approximately a decade each, history, literature, history of religions, and theology.


Social Order Jewish Community Social Entity Jewish Education Late Antiquity 
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Copyright information

© Jon R. Stone 1998

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  • Jacob Neusner

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