First published in 1994. This volume, dedicated to Dr David Patterson, founding President of the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, takes as its theme Jewish education and learning throughout the ages. But it is the 'Academy' - interpreted here to mean an institution of Judaic scholarship - which dominates this collection of essays. For almost three thousand years centres of Jewish learning have flourished in many parts of the world. This volume discusses these institutions from biblical times to the present. From the time of the Mishnaic Academy at Yavneh, established in the first century CE, the academies were more than schools of higher religious education. They incorporated rational analysis of the scriptures, the natural sciences and other secular studies. Some of the most celebrated academies, such as those in Cairo and Tunisia, and later in the Iberian Peninsula were of a very high intellectual order, sometimes superior to the great Christian universities. It was at these institutions that the great Jewish legal and literary works were written and completed.
This collection of essays has been written by outstanding scholars who have been associated with David Patterson and the Oxford Centre. The essays explore the nature and function of the 'Jewish Academies' in the broadest sense, the leading personalities associated with them and their social, cultural and moral effect on the Jewish communities of their day.