Parashah Themes in Historical Perspective is a two-volume collection of Rabbi Evan Hoffman's essays, arranged according to the annual Torah reading cycle. For each essay, a biblical verse or passage serves as the point of departure for an exploration of broader themes in the history of the Jewish people or the evolution of Jewish thought and practice.
Classical rabbinic texts as well as external and non-canonical sources are examined in a spirit of free inquiry. The author seeks to understand the historical context in which the sages and early exegetes offered their respective interpretations.
For the layman accustomed to exclusively traditional methods of interpretation, these essays offer entrée to the realm of academic Jewish studies. Scholars, too, will benefit from those essays in which the author breaks new ground. For anyone who has wondered how certain Jewish customs came to assume their current forms, or how other biblical rites ceased altogether to be operative in contemporary Judaism, this work will be of particular interest.