Back in Washington Heights, Yaakov’s Yeshiva University classes expanded with students who had come to hear a talmudic genius talk about Zoroastrianism and its significance for understanding the Talmud. And regular, nonacademic devotees of Jewish texts caught wind of what was happening and began to follow Yaakov’s work from beyond the ivory tower. It is difficult to capture the exhilaration of that time, when one could feel the vibrations of a major shift taking place at the traditional, talmudic core of Jewish studies. One can now legitimately divide Talmud scholarship into two periods—BE, before Elman, when Talmud research focused on the text and its development, and AE, after Elman rewrote the curriculum of talmudists to include the languages and literatures of communities neighboring Babylonian Jewry, especially the Persian-speaking Zoroastrians, who ruled the powerful Sassanian Iranian Empire.Dr. Secunda posted a brief notice of the passing of Professor Elman, noted here. And for other memorials, start here and follow the links.
Incidentally, Professor (now Emeritus) Oktor Skjærvø, who comes up in this essay, is also a contributor to the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. I have been working with him this summer on his new translation of the Iranian Manichean versions of the Book of Giants, slated for Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 2 (MOTP2). As noted earlier here.
I know it's been a long time in the making, but MOTP2 is coming along nicely. It will be worth the wait!
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