Akiva: Life, Legend, Legacy  -     By: Reuven Hammer
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Akiva: Life, Legend, Legacy

Jewish Publication Society / 2015 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Arguably the most important of the Tannaim, or early Jewish sages, Akiva was a leading codifier of oral law as well as outspoken about "Christian Jews," the influence of Hellenism, the Septuagint, and the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. Hammer appraises his many achievements and his martyrdom in A.D. 135. 232 pages, hardcover. Jewish Publication Society.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 232
Vendor: Jewish Publication Society
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 082761215X
ISBN-13: 9780827612150

Publisher's Description

The legendary Akiva ben Yosef has fascinated Jews for centuries. Arguably the most important of the Tannaim, or early Jewish sages, Akiva lived during a crucial era in the development of Judaism as we know it today, and his theology played a major part in the development of Rabbinic Judaism. Reuven Hammer details Akiva’s life as it led to a martyr’s death and he delves into the rich legacy Akiva left us.

That legacy played an extraordinarily important role in helping the Jewish people survive difficult challenges to forge a vibrant religious life anew, and it continues to influence Jewish law, ethics, and theology even today. Akiva’s contribution to the development of Oral Torah cannot be overestimated, and in this first book written in English about the sage since 1936 Hammer reassesses Akiva’s role from the period before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE until the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. He also assesses new findings about the growth of early Judaism, the reasons why Akiva was so outspoken about "Christian Jews," the influence of Hellenism, the Septuagint, and the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. Ultimately Hammer shows that Judaism without Akiva would be a very different religion.

Author Bio

Rabbi Reuven Hammer is the former director and dean of the Jerusalem branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS), where he served as a professor of Rabbinic literature. He holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from JTS and a PhD from Northwestern University and was also the founding director of the Seminary of Jewish Studies. He is the author or editor of many books, including Entering the High Holy Days: A Complete Guide to the History, Prayers, and Themes (JPS, 2005) and Sifre: A Taanaitic Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy, both of which are National Jewish Book Award winners.


Editorial Reviews

"Hammer performs a delicate balancing act—not only between deciding between fact and legend, but in showing the struggles within the rabbinic community. Readers looking to learn more about Akiva and the growth of rabbinic Judaism will find his work has much to offer."—Rabbi Rachel Esserman, Reporter Group

"With this new work, readers will be able to move past the coarse legends and refine their understanding of Akiva's true characteristics, which turned this seemingly simple man into a rabbinical giant, and make his achievements still relevant to this day."—Benjamin Glatt, Jerusalem Post Magazine

"With insight and mastery of Rabbinic sources, Rabbi Reuven Hammer has produced an outstanding review of the life of Rabbi Akiva, clarifying his life, thoughts, beliefs, and concerns for the Jewish people. His book will enlighten and captivate readers."—Shalom Paul, professor emeritus, Bible Department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"Reuven Hammer’s Akiva is a bold and sophisticated engagement with one of the best documented but nevertheless elusive figures in early Rabbinic Judaism. By judiciously weighing Akiva’s complex literary legacy, Rabbi Reuven Hammer encourages readers to explore how we know the past and what it can teach us in the present."—Ivan G. Marcus, Frederick P. Rose Professor of Jewish History at Yale University

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