Tag Archives: daniel-boyarin

What's Changed

For me the biggest change in Jewish studies (for which, read in this context, rabbinic studies) in the last twenty years is the growing number of young scholars who have both full and deep knowledge of the classical rabbinic texts and a profoundly intellectual, comparative, methodological, and theoretical perspective on their study and research. I hasten to say that I am not defining Jewish studies as Talmudic studies but only saying that for me this is where the prime excitement has been and continues to be. For many years after the trauma of the Nazi genocide, classical rabbinic research turned inwards; many of us were very well trained and equipped with the tools of Talmudic philology and a kind of scholarly version of traditional Rabbinic scholarship (which I do not look down upon in any way), but certain important gains of the Wissenschaft des Judentums were lost with the loss of the institutional and cultural contexts within which it had thrived. In recent years a trickle of rabbinic scholars sought to open their work up to larger cultural and scholarly contexts but we have always been playing a kind of catch-up. Now we are seeing graduate students who are able to read the Maharam Schiff and Homi Bhabha (not to mention Greek and Syriac, Latin and Pahlavi). This is, to me, a very exciting development. Long live Wissenschaft!