The Right Coast

April 13, 2005
The Man Who Wrote 900 Books
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Jacob Neusner is a phenomenon in academic Jewish studies. He is the author of well over 900 books, and lots more than that if you include his many, many volumes of translations. Meet him in this NY Times interview/profile. The Times doesn't like Neusner's politics -- he is conservative, and his son works in the Bush White House -- but the profile is pretty respectful, if somewhat bemused. Neusner famously doesn't suffer fools gladly, if at all:
Mr. Neusner's sharp tongue has also made him enemies among his colleagues. He has been known to sign letters to opponents, "Drop Dead." Did he really do that? "Not very often," he said dryly. Can he explain? "I'm too old to remember what the occasion was."
But over many decades, Neusner has been immensely influential in helping to make Jewish studies a serious academic discipline. He is 72 now. "Ad meah ve-esrim!", in the Hebrew expression: "May he live to 120!"