Masters of the Word
Traditional Jewish Bible Commentary from the Twelfth through Fourteenth Centuries
by Rabbi Yonatan Kolatch
Masters of the Word is an in-depth exploration of the rich world of traditional Jewish Bible commentary. It analyzes the unique method and style of each commentator against the backdrop of his time and place. Not just another “parashah book,” this pioneering work addresses such questions as: How did the era and its spirit affect the commentator, and how did he influence his times? How did he approach the Oral Law and rabbinic tradition? What were his goals? What kinds of textual problems did he deal with? These issues are addressed clearly and comprehensively. The author’s comments are fully footnoted. This volume discusses five central commentators emanating from Spain and Provence: Rambam, Radak, Ramban, Rabbenu Bachya, and Ralbag. By viewing the Bible through the varying lenses of its commentators, one can begin to truly understand the depth and diversity of its “seventy facets.”
If you are interested in Biblical commentary or the history of Jewish ideas, or you are just looking for an unconventional but highly informative book with which to study the parashah, Masters of the Word: Volume III is highly recommended.
Rabbi Yonatan Kolatch has been involved in Jewish education for more than four decades in the US and Israel, in varying capacities. Ordained by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Kolatch also holds master’s degrees in social work and Jewish education from Yeshiva University.
“In clear language and understandable prose, coupled with copious scholarly footnotes, Rabbi Kolatch guides us through the maze of great commentaries that have enriched Jewish tradition and our knowledge of the Torah. There is no doubt that anyone perusing this work will gain a great deal of Torah knowledge and inspiration as well as necessary basic knowledge of the Jewish past and its great leaders and scholars.” – Rabbi Berel Wein, Noted Torah scholar, lecturer and writer
“Masters of the Word draws a panoramic but very in-depth picture of the history of biblical commentaries from antiquity to the present day. The way each chapter of the book depicts the selected work against the background of its time and place while addressing its character, style, structure, worldview reflected in it, and place in the history of biblical commentaries is an essential introduction for any learner. But beyond that, this study is a guidebook that gives the reader essential tools for a deeper understanding of biblical commentaries. Masters of the Word makes studying biblical commentary a marvelous experience.” – Dr. Oded Yisraeli, Senior lecturer in Kabbalah, Goldstein-Goren Dept. of Jewish Thought, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev