Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recent Jewish Studies Research

Question: Where can I find an overview of the various scholarly approaches in recent research on Jewish liturgy?

Answer: Lawrence A. Hoffman’s essay “Jewish Liturgy and Jewish Scholarship: Method and Cosmology” in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies (Oxford University Press, 2002) p. 733-755 presents a survey of research in Jewish liturgy, focusing on the attitudes and points of view of the various scholars. In addition to earlier studies, publications of the last 20 years are presented.

The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies provides a similar “snapshot of the current state of research” (p. xiii) in each of 39 sub-disciplines, ranging from Biblical studies and medieval Jewish history to Jewish mysticism, Jewish music, and demography of the Jews. This handbook will help a student evaluate a particular scholar’s work against the backdrop of the accomplishments of his fellow researchers.

Most chapters include an introduction to the field, a survey of early research (19th and early/mid 20th century publications), as well as a detailed emphasis on more recent scholarship. Many essays also suggest areas that have not been well-studied, in the hope that future scholars will investigate those topics further. Each chapter concludes with a paragraph highlighting the strengths of “Suggested Reading,” and a more extensive “Bibliography.”

The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies is located in the JTS Library’s Reference collection at: REF BM 70 O95 2002.


  1. Also, Stefan Reif's book, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer provides an excellent overview of the topic and history.

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