New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, Boston 1899-1903 (48421)

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 48421
Title (English): New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud
Note: [First Revised Ed.]
Author: Michael Levi Rodkinson
City: Boston
Publisher: The Talmud Society
Publication Date: 1899-1903
Estimated Price: $200.00 USD - $500.00 USD
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Physical Description

9 volumes, quarto, 234:154 mm., light age staining, crisp copy. A very good set bound in the original cloth boards, gild edges.           

First translation of the Babylonian Talmud into English


1 Sabbath - 1903

2 Festivals Part I - 1903

3 Festivals Part II - 1899

4 Festivals Part III - 1899

5 Jurisprudence Part I - 1903

6 Jurisprudence Part II - 1903

7 Jurisprudence Part III - 1903

8 Jurisprudence Part IV - 1903

9 Jurisprudence Part V - 1903


Detailed Description   

The translation encompasses most but not all of the tractates in the Babylonian Talmud. The tractates are I and II Sabbath (continuous pagination); III Erubin; IV Shekalim and Rosh Hashana; V Pesachim (Passover); VI Yoma and Hagiga; VII Betzah, Succah, and Moed Katan; VIII Taanith, Megilla, Ebel Rabbathi or Semahoth. The numbering of the subsequent tractates, in Seder Nezikin, began with a new enumeration from I, with numbers in parenthesis to indicate their sequence in the entire set, as follows: I (IX) Aboth (Fathers of the Synagogue), with Abot of R. Nathan, Derech Eretz Rabba, and Zutra; II (X) Baba Kama; III (XI) and IV (XII) Baba Metzia (continuous pagination); V (XIII) and V I (XIV) Baba Bathra (continuous pagination); VII (XV) and VIII (XVI) Sanhedrin (continuous pagination); IX (XVII) Maccoth, Shebuoth, and Eduyoth; X (XVIII) Abuda Zara and Horioth; and I (XIX) and II (XX) The History of the Talmud.

Rodkinson’s objective was to translate the entire Talmud, not only to making it accessible to English speakers, but also to transform that “chaotic” work, through careful editing, into “a readable, intelligible work.” The translation was supported by Dr. Isaac Mayer Wise, (1819-1900) President of Hebrew Union College (HUC), and, from 1889 to his death, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, who wrote in a letter dated March 24, 1896, “I beg leave to testify herewith that I have carefully read and revised the English translation of this volume of the ‘Tract Sabbath,’ Rodkinson=s reconstruction of the original text of the Talmud. The translation is correct, almost literal, where the English idiom permitted it.” Nevertheless, most reviewers were highly critical. Kaufman Kohler (1843-1926), a leader of the radical branch of Reform Judaism and, from 1903 to 1921, president of HUC, wrote that he “must entirely disagree with the venerable President of the Cincinnati College,” that is, Dr. Wise, for “in almost every uncommon word a degree of ignorance is displayed which is simply appalling.” Nevertheless, the Rodkinson New Talmud is important as a pioneer effort.

Michael Levi Rodkinson (1845-1904) was the scion of a distinguished Hassidic family who became a radical proponent of haskalah at an early age. He was a prolific writer. In addition to his New Talmud, he collected, wrote, published, and perhaps fabricated, Hasidic tales. He was, as the editor of Hebrew journals, among the pioneers of the Hebrew press, and the author of numerous monographs.