EPSTEIN, JACOB NAHUM (1878–1952), Talmud scholar. Born in Brest-Litovsk, Epstein studied at home with his father, at the Mir yeshivah, and at the universities in Vienna and Berne, receiving his doctorate from the latter. In 1923 he became lecturer at the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin and in 1925 professor of talmudic philology at the newly founded Hebrew University. He formulated the basis for a new approach to talmudic studies in which he trained generations of scholars, and such outstanding individuals as S. Lieberman, G. Alon, S. Abramson, M. Margaliot, and E.Z. Melammed. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, pupils and fellow scholars presented him with a jubilee volume. Early in his career Epstein devoted studies to books of the Bible and the Elephantine papyri, but the major portion of his life's work was dedicated to rabbinical literature, particularly to the Mishnah text about which he wrote Mavo le-Nusaḥ ha-Mishnah (2 vols., 1948). This work is considered to be the most authoritative study of the original text of the Mishnah. The author displays great erudition and critical acumen in attempting to establish the correct version of the Mishnah and its development. He clarifies many difficult passages in the Mishnah and the Talmudim. Two works were published posthumously, edited by E.Z. Melammed: Mevo'ot le-Sifrut ha-Tanna'im (1957, containing an introduction to the Mishnah and Tosefta, introductions to the 18 masekhtot of the Mishnah, and an introduction to halakhic Midrashim) and Mevo'ot le-Sifrut ha-Amora'im (1962, including introductions to nine tractates of the Babylonian Talmud, an introduction to the Jerusalem Talmud, and alternate versions of the latter, down to the end of tractate Shabbat). These works, together with the preliminary studies such as Dikduk Aramit Bavlit ("Babylonian Aramaic Grammar," ed. by E.Z. Melammed, 1960), were actually preparatory to a critical edition of the Mishnah text, which unfortunately remained an unfulfilled dream. Epstein was also concerned with establishing a correct version of the Jerusalem Talmud, a problem connected with the relationship between the editio princeps and the Leiden manuscript. He also initiated the ambitious plan of translating the Babylonian Talmud into Hebrew, accompanied by variant texts and a short commentary. Three tractates (Bava Kamma, Bava Meẓia, and Bava Batra) were published (1952–60). It was natural that other early rabbinic texts should similarly engage Epstein's attention. He defined the Tosefta to be a supplement to the Mishnah recording older materials, omitting controversies and traditions, and commenting on established (Mishnah) texts. He also wrote studies on the halakhic Midrashim and prepared a new edition of the Mekhilta de-R. Simeon ben Yoḥai (ed. by E.Z. Melammed, 1955) which, in addition to being reconstructed from materials embodied in such other works as D. Hoffmann's edition of 1905, used fragments of this lost Midrash found in the Cairo Genizah. In the field of geonic literature, Epstein edited the geonic commentary to the sixth order of the Mishnah (Tohorot, 1921–24; supplement, 1945), the introduction to which had studies on the She'iltot of R. Aḥa Gaon. He devoted other studies to such medieval talmudic commentators as Rashi and his son-in-law and pupil, the early tosafist, Judah b. Nathan; Elijah b. Menahem of London; Yom Tov b. Abraham   and others. His contribution to the modern study of rabbinical literature was of far-reaching importance. Epstein's essays and reviews appeared in many learned periodicals, and he was cofounder and coeditor of the quarterly Devir (1923–24), and edited the first 23 volumes of the quarterly Tarbiz (1930–52). He was an active member of the Vaad ha-Lashon and presided over several of its committees. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sefer ha-Yovel… J.N. Epstein (= Tarbiz, 20, 1950); S. Abramson, J.N. Epstein, Reshimah Bibliografit … ve-Toledot Ḥayyav (1942); M. Schwabe, et al., Le-Zikhro shel J.N. Epstein (1952); Loewinger, in: S. Federbush (ed.), Ḥokhmat Yisra'el be-Ma'arav Eiropah, 2 (1963), 49ff.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Epstein, Jacob Nahum — (1878 1952)    Israeli talmudist. He was born in Brest Litovsk. He became a lecturer at the Hochschule fur die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin in 1923, and in 1925 he was appointed professor of talmudic philology at the Hebrew University. He …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Nahum M. Sarna — Nahum Mattathias Sarna (March 27, 1923–June 23, 2005) (Hebrew: נחום סרנה) was a modern Biblical scholar who is best known for the study of Genesis and Exodus represented in his Understanding Genesis (1966) and in his contributions to the first… …   Wikipedia

  • JACOB — (Heb. יַעֲקֹב ,יַעֲקוֹב), younger twin son of isaac and rebekah , third of the patriarchs of the people of Israel. His father was 60 years old at the time of Jacob s birth, which occurred after 20 years of childless marriage (Gen. 25:20, 26).… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Pirkoï ben Baboï — (hébreu : פירקוי בן באבוי) est un talmudiste des VIIIe et IXe siècles, principalement connu pour une épître polémique à l’égard des traditions de la terre d’Israël, rédigée à l’intention des Juifs de Kairouan. Éléments biographiques… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Prix Bialik — Le prix Bialik est un prix littéraire annuel décerné par la municipalité de Tel Aviv, pour récompenser des avancées significatives en littérature hébraïque. Le prix a été nommé ainsi en mémoire de Haïm Nahman Bialik, poète de langue hébraïque. Il …   Wikipédia en Français

  • BREST-LITOVSK — (Brisk, Heb. בריסק דליטא; until 1921 Brest Litovsk; from 1921 until 1939 Brześć nad Bugiem; after 1939 Brest), capital of Brest district, Belarus. In the medieval grand duchy of lithuania , from the 14th to the 17th centuries, in particular after …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • HOLY LAND IN MAPS — Heinrich Bunting, German, 1546–1606. The Whole World in a Clover Leaf. Woodcut, 1581. Gift of Tamar and Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photo: Z. Radovan, Jerusalem.   THE HISTORY OF THE MAPPING OF THE HOLY LAND EPITOMIZES… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Mekhilta deRabbi Shimon — La Mekhilta deRabbi Shimon (Hébreu: מכילתא דרבי שמעון בר יוחאי Mekhilta deRabbi Shimon bar Yohaï) est un Midrash halakha sur le Livre de l’Exode, interprété selon la méthode de Rabbi Akiva. Il est nommé d’après Rabbi Shimon bar Yohaï, le premier… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ART — This article is arranged according to the following outline: Antiquity to 1800 INTRODUCTION: JEWISH ATTITUDE TO ART biblical period the sanctuary and first temple period second temple period after the fall of jerusalem relation to early christian …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • KABBALAH — This entry is arranged according to the following outline: introduction general notes terms used for kabbalah the historical development of the kabbalah the early beginnings of mysticism and esotericism apocalyptic esotericism and merkabah… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.