How does Jacob Neusner's translations of the talmud bavli and yerushalmi compare to artscroll's, koren's, and soncino's?

I have never seen Neusner's in a shul or bais midrash unlike the other three mentioned; is there a reason for that? Is it an accurate translation?

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia. As described there, Neusner has been criticized by the following scholars in his field of study:

[Shaye J. D. Cohen, "Jacob Neusner, Mishnah and Counter-Rabbinics," Conservative Judaism, Vol.37(1) Fall 1983 p. 48-63]

[Craig A. Evans, "Mishna and Messiah 'In Context'," Journal of Biblical Literature, (JBL), 112/2 1993, p. 267-289]

[Saul Lieberman, "A Tragedy or a Comedy" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.104(2) April/June 1984 p. 315-319]

[Hyam Maccoby, "Jacob Neusner's Mishnah," Midstream, 30/5 May 1984 p. 24-32]

[Hyam Maccoby, "Neusner and the Red Cow," Journal for the Study of Judaism (JSJ), 21 1990, p. 60-75]

[John C. Poirier, "Jacob Neusner, the Mishnah and Ventriloquism," The Jewish Quarterly Review, LXXXVII Nos.1-2, July–October 1996, p. 61-78]

[E.P.Sanders, Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah. Philadelphia, 1990.]

[Solomon Zeitlin, "A Life of Yohanan ben Zakkai. A Specimen of Modern Jewish Scholarship," Jewish Quarterly Review, 62, 1972, p. 145-155.]

[Solomon Zeitlin, "Spurious Interpretations of Rabbinic Sources in the Studies of the Pharisees and Pharisaim," Jewish Quarterly Review, 62, 1974, p. 122-135.]

[ Evan M. Zuesse, "The Rabbinic Treatment of 'Others' (Criminals, Gentiles) according to Jacob Neusner," Review of Rabbinic Judaism, Vol. VII, 2004, p. 191-229]

[Evan M. Zuesse, "Phenomenology of Judaism," in: Encyclopaedia of Judaism, ed. J. Neusner, A. Avery-Peck, and W.S. Green, 2nd Edition Leiden: Brill, 2005 Vol.III, p. 1968-1986. (Offers an alternative to Neusner's theory of "Judaisms.")]

Some scholars are critical of Neusner's methodology, and assert that many of his arguments are circular or attempt to prove "negative assumptions" from a lack of evidence. Others are critical of Neusner's reading and interpretations of Rabbinic texts, finding that his account is forced and inaccurate.

Some scholars have questioned Neusner's grasp of Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. Probably the most famous and biting criticism came from Saul Lieberman: about Neusner's translation of the Jerusalem Talmud, Lieberman wrote:"...one begins to doubt the credibility of the translator [Neusner]. And indeed after a superficial perusal of the translation, the reader is stunned by [Neusner's] ignorance of Rabbinic Hebrew, of Aramaic grammar, and above all of the subject matter with which he deals." He ended his review: "I conclude with a clear conscience: The right place for [Neusner's] English translation is the waste basket. "[Saul Lieberman, "A Tragedy or a Comedy" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.104(2) April/June 1984 p. 315-319]

  • Partial answer more questions unanswered.
    – sam
    Jul 31, 2013 at 18:54
  • 2
    Indeed Lieberman's piece is notoriously quite sharp.
    – Double AA
    Jul 31, 2013 at 18:56
  • anyone ever read Haym Soltoveitchik's review on one of Neusner's student's book? Probably one of the funniest Rabbinic pieces I have ever read. Nov 4, 2015 at 18:09
  • Ok Ephraim I found it; -- Review: Responsa: Literary History and Basic Literacy Author(s): Haym Soloveitchik Review by: Haym Soloveitchik Source: AJS Review, Vol. 24, No. 2 (1999), pp. 343-357 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Association for Jewish Studies Stable URL: jstor.org/stable/1486759
    – user11431
    Nov 11, 2015 at 22:56
  • @sam: If you have multiple related questions, and you want each one answered in full, it might help to make each one be a separate post. I do admit that this is a slight hassle. Apr 13, 2017 at 15:22

Neusner only translates the historical document as it was codified ca. 500 CE. He does not include any later commentaries such as Rashi, nor any halakhic literature.

  • 2
    Neither did Soncino...
    – Double AA
    Aug 25, 2013 at 1:10

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