The collection Chapters in the Formative History of Judaism: Fourth Series commences with two historical theological essays, one on the apologetics of Judaism, the other on its soteriology. Both were written in response to invitations to contribute to collections of historical theology. Dr. Arvind Sharma of McGill University asked for the first chapter, posing a set of penetrating questions. It was to frame an essay of criticism of Judaism. The essay then responds to his program and problem with an apologetic composed out of the history of Judaism. The second is written for a forthcoming volume on soteriology in ancient Judaism and Christianity. It deals with the resurrection of the dead and the Messiah in Rabbinic documents. The second set of two essays deals with the canon of Rabbinic Judaism. Chapter Three responds to the request of Professor Bruce D. Chilton for a brief introduction to the Rabbinic canon. The fourth systematically compares two Midrash-compilations devoted to the same book of Scripture. It applies the documentary hypothesis of the Rabbinic canon to a particular problem. Chapter Five is an effort at constructive theology.
It is the Jack Chester Memorial Lecture for the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami. Two brief reviews complete the collection of six months of work.
Jacob Neusner is a leading figure in the American academic study of religion. He revolutionized the study of Judaism and brought it into the field of religion, built intellectual bridges between Judaism and other religions, thereby laying the groundwork for durable understanding and respect among religions. He has advanced the careers of younger scholars and teachers through his teaching and publication programs. Neusner's influence on the study of Judaism and religion is broad, powerful, distinctive, and enduring.