Mira Beth Wasserman of Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for Jews for Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals: The Talmud After the Humanities (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals offers an innovative reading of B. T. ‘Avodah Zarah as a cohesive literary work organized about a single overarching theme ― the qualities that distinguish Jews from other human beings and the qualities that Jews and other humans share in common. Through an erudite close reading of ‘Avodah Zarah’s five chapters, informed by thorough familiarity with current Talmudic scholarship and with multiple theoretical lenses employed in the contemporary humanities, Wasserman identifies a broad range of literary devices at work throughout the text. This analysis enables her to build a powerful case that interventions by the anonymous editors of the Babylonian Talmud shaped not only individual tales and sugyot but entire tractates as well. Simultaneously Wasserman reflects upon the implications of her findings for humanistic and “post-humanistic” scholarship more broadly. Noteworthy for its impressive integration of multiple intellectual perspectives, for its intellectual maturity, and for the lucidity of its exposition, Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals speaks to a community that extends to all fields of Jewish studies and beyond.