Rabbinic documents of David, progenitor of the Messiah, carry forward the scriptural narrative of David the king. But he also is turned by Rabbinic writings of late antiquity — from the Mishnah through the Yerushalmi and the Bavli — into a sage. Consequently, the Rabbis' Messiah is a rabbi. How did this transformation come about? Of what kinds of writings does it consist? What sequence of writings conveyed the transformation? And most important: what do we learn about the movement from one set of Israelite writings to take over, or submit to the values of, another set of writings? These are the questions answered here for David, king of Israel.
Rabbi David proves that the first exposition of the figure of Rabbi David in a program of elaboration and of protracted exposition of law and Scripture is found in the Bavli. Prior to the closure of that document, that is, in the Rabbinic documents that came to closure before the Bavli, we do not find an elaborate exposition of the figure of David as a rabbi. By contrast, in the Bavli, ample canonical evidence attests to the sages' transformation of David, king of Israel, into a rabbi. So while bits and pieces of Rabbi David find their way into most of the canonical documents, we find the elaborately spelled out Rabbi David to begin with in the Bavli, now represented as a disciple of sages and a devotee of study of the Torah. That usage attracts attention because when we encounter David in Rabbinic literature — as in all other Judaic canons, not only Rabbinic — this signals we are meeting the embodiment of the Messiah. The representation of the kings of Israel in the Davidic line as heirs of David forms a chapter in exposing the Messianic message of Rabbinic Judaism.
Jacob Neusner — Jacob Neusner is a leading figure in the American academic study of religion. He revolutionized the study of Judaism and brought it into the field of religion, and he built intellectual bridges between Judaism and other religions, thereby laying the groundwork for durable understanding and respect among religions. He has advanced the careers of younger scholars and teachers through his teaching and publication programs. Neusner's influence on the study of Judaism and religion is broad, powerful, distinctive, and enduring.
The real measure of Jacob Neusner's contribution to the study of religion emerges from the originality, excellence, and scope of his learning. He founded a field of scholarship: the academic study of Judaism. He built out of that field to influence a larger subject: the academic study of religion. He created durable networks and pathways of interreligious communication and understanding. And he cared for the careers of others. Ever generous with his intellectual gifts, Neusner is one of America's greatest humanists. In all aspects of his career, he exemplifies the meaning of American learning. In all he has done, Jacob Neusner fulfills the distinctive promise of the academic study of religion in an open and pluralistic society that values religion as a fundamental expression of freedom. -from the Encyclopaedia Judaica, second edition
Preface Introduction 1. David in Abot and the Mishnah 2. David in The Tosefta 3. David in Sifra 4. David in Sifré to Numbers and Sifré Zutta to Numbers 5. David in Sifré to Deuteronomy 6. David in Mekhilta Attributed to R. Ishmael 7. David in Genesis Rabbah 8. David in Leviticus Rabbah 9. David in Pesiqta Derab Kahana 10. David in Esther Rabbah I 11. David in Song of Songs Rabbah 12. David in Ruth Rabbah 13. David in Lamentations Rabbah 14. David in the Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan 15 David in Yerushalmi Berakhot and Zeraim 16. David in Yerushalmi Moed 17. David in Yerushalmi Nashim 18. David in Yerushalmi Neziqin 19. David in Bavli Berakhot 20. David in Bavli Moed 21. David in Bavli Nashim 22. David in Bavli Neziqin 23. David in Bavli Qodoshim and Niddah 24. Conclusion