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Exegesis--interpretation and explanation of sacred texts--is the quintessence of rabbinic thought. Through such means and methods, the written words of Hebrew Scripture have been extended since antiquity, and given new voices for new times. In this lucid and often poetic book, Michael Fishbane delineates the connections between biblical interpretation and Jewish religious thought.
How can a canon be open to new meanings, given that it is believed to be immutable? Fishbane discusses the nature and rationale of this interpretative process in a series of studies on ancient Jewish speculative theology. Focusing on questions often pondered in Midrash, he shows how religious ideas are generated or justified by exegesis. He also explores the role exegesis plays in liturgy and ritual. A striking example is the transfer of speculative interpretations into meditation in prayer. Cultivation of the ability to perceive many implicit meanings in a text or religious practice can become a way of living--as Fishbane shows in explaining how such notions as joy or spiritual meditations on death can be idealized and the ideal transmitted through theological interpretation. "The Exegetical Imagination "is a collection of interrelated essays that together offer new and profound understanding of scriptural interpretation and its central role in Judaism.
A study of the growth of Joshua and Judges illustrates how the theme of divine anger has been used differently, according to different historical and social settings. In the deuteronomistic texts the main reason for God's anger is idolatry, which symbolizes a totally negative attitude to everything that God has done or given to the Israelites. This theology of anger is deeply bound to experiences of national catastrophes or threats of crises, and reflects the theological enigma of the exile. A century later, post-deuteronomistic theology gives a wholly different view: the anger of God becomes an instrument of the power struggles between the Israelite parties, or is used for protecting existing leadership.
God's covenant with Israel is one of the most important themes of Old Testament scholarship: 'I will be your God, you shall be my people'. Yet this has only rarely been the focus of a comprehensive study.Professor Rendtorff explores the different ways the covenant formula is used in the Bible, its structural and theological functions, the connections between covenant and election.An important contribution to a canonical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.
Anonymous characters -- such as Lot's wife, Jephthah's daughter, Pharoah's baker, and the witch of Endor -- are ubiquitous in the Hebrew Bible, and appear in a wide variety of roles. Adele Reinhartz here answers two principal questions concerning this aspect of biblical narrative. First, is there a "poetics of anonymity," and if so, what are its contours? Second, how does anonymity affect the readers' response to, and construction of, unnamed biblical characters. She is especially interested in issues related to gender, determining whether female characters are more likely to be anonymous than male characters, and whether the anonymity of female characters functions differently from that of male characters.
Volume 1 of the Mercer Commentary on the Bible (MCB) comprises commentaries on Genesis -- Deuteronomy plus appropriate articles from the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (MDB). This convenient text is for the classroom and for anyone who wishes to focus on the study of the Pentateuch/Torah. Other fascicles in the series focus on other appropriate groups of canonical and deuterocanonical writings. Already available are volumes 4 (Prophets), 6 (Gospels), and 7 (Acts and Pauline Writings). Other volumes will follow in due course (see the list on p. vii). Each volume includes both MCB commentaries and appropriate articles from MDB.
This fascicle edition of the massive Mercer Commentary on the Bible (1994/1995), with selections from the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (1990), is intended primarily for students in the classroom, and already is meeting the need for a convenient yet comprehensive text in classes on the Prophets, the Gospels, and so forth. Church study groups also are finding these volumes to be convenient and helpful curriculum pieces for ongoing study courses and in Sunday school or church school.
Mercer University Press intends these texts to be available, appropriate, and helpful for Bible students both in and out of the classroom, and indeed for anyone seeking guidance in uncovering the abundant wealth of the Scriptures.
The incredible discoveries at Qumran are unveiled in this compelling volume by one of the world's foremost experts on biblical archaeology and the ancient Qumran community. Drawing on the best of current research and a thorough knowledge of all the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hartmut Stegemann analyzes the purpose of the Qumran settlement, paints a picture of how daily life was carried on there, explores the relation of the Qumran community to John the Baptist, to Jesus, and to early Christianity, and uncovers the true nature of the Qumran writings, which continue to have a profound impact on biblical studies today
This book looks at the relationship between biblical Hebrew verbs and the passage of time in narrative. It offers a summary of previous studies and theories, and argues that one possible way of understanding the fundamental meanings of Hebrew verbs is by examining the role played by the four main verb forms in ordering time.
Using the tools of contemporary semiotic theory to analyze classical rabbinic hermeneutics and medieval mystical exegesis, Betty Rojtman unveils a modernity in these early forms of textual interpretation. The metaphor from rabbinic literature that describes the writing of the Torah - black fire on white fire - becomes, in Rojtman's analysis, a figure for the differential structures that can be found throughout rabbinic discourse. Moving through the successive levels of traditional commentary, from early Midrash to modern Kabbalah, Rojtman examines the tension betweeen the fluidity and nuance of the biblical text and the fixed commitment to ideological and theological content. To examine this strain between open text and sacred language, Rojtman scrutinizes the demonstrative, "this," as a word whose signi-ficance changes with every change in context. Her analysis suggests a double-layered meaning for "this," which refers to the existential world in its multiplicity but also to transcendence and the eternal presence of God.
For this volume, sequel to The Bible in Three Dimensions, the seven full-time members of the research and teaching faculty in Biblical Studies at Sheffield-Loveday Alexander, David Clines, Meg Davies, Philip Davies, Cheryl Exum, Barry Matlock and Stephen Moore-set themselves a common task: to reflect on what they hope or imagine, as century gives way to century, will be the key areas of research in biblical studies, and to paint themselves, however modestly, into the picture. The volume contains, as well as those seven principal essays, a 75-page 'intellectual biography' of the Department and a revealing sketch of the 'material conditions' of its research and teaching, together with a list of its graduates and the titles of their theses.
Scholarship in the Hebrew Scriptures is more bountiful and diverse than ever before, a situation that presents a formidable challenge to the student trying to understand the critical issues in Hebrew Bible study. This book deals with each section of the canon and explains the standard questions, with special attention to points of scholarly agreement and contention. Written by an international group of preeminent scholars, this collection is intended for readers with a diversity of interests and is specifically designed for those making their first acquaintance with the complex character of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament.
In this exploration of Jewish wisdom during the Hellenistic period, internationally renowned scholar John J. Collins examines the books of Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, and the recently discovered Qumran Sapiential A text from the Dead Sea Scrolls - offering one of the first such examinations of this text in print. This commentary is a compelling analysis of these important texts and their continuing traditions.>
This is an introduction to the Qur'an for those who want to know more about it and do not know where to start. In it, Jacques Jomier takes selected passages and points out their distinctive style and language, drawing attention to the religious ideas in the Qur'an and the way in which they are expressed. He shows how the Qur'an keeps returning to certain fundamental truths or essential points of doctrine, its great themes, yet often elsewhere confines itself to suggestion and allusion. He is also deeply aware of the role of the Qur'an in the history of Islam and the life of the community, so that it is not just a holy book but also arouses the emotions Christians feel as they remember family Christmases or hear quiet organ music in a darkened church. Chapters include discussions of Mecca and the early days of Islam, the Muslim community, Adam, Abraham, the prophets, Jesus, and hymns to God the creator. Jacques Jomier is a Dominican and the author of How to Understand Islam.
'Content analysis'-which is a computer-assisted form of textual analysis-is used to examine divine activity in six prophetic texts, comparing God's activity to that of humans. In this methodologically innovative study, the author concludes, in the light of quantitative data, that God is harsher to non-Israelites than to Israelites in all the texts, and much kinder to Israelites in Joel than in the typical prophet. God and humans are involved in much the same kinds of physical and mental processes, but to considerably different degrees. Griffin argues persuasively that the God of the prophets is not the 'wholly other' of some theologies, but neither do his actions follow exactly the human pattern.
The burgeoning use of modern literary theory and cultural criticism in recent biblical studies has led to stimulating-but often bewildering-new readings of the Bible. This book, argued from a perspective shaped by postmodernism, is at once an accessible guide to and an engagement with various methods, theories, and critical practices transforming biblical scholarship today. Written by a collective of cutting-edge scholars-with each page the work of multiple hands-The Postmodern Bible deliberately breaks with the individualist model of authorship that has traditionally dominated scholarship in the humanities and is itself an illustration of the postmodern transformation of biblical studies for which it argues. The book introduces, illustrates, and critiques seven prominent strategies of reading. Several of these interpretive strategies-rhetorical criticism, structuralism and narratology, reader-response criticism, and feminist criticism-have been instrumental in the transformation of biblical studies up to now. Many-feminist and womanist criticism, ideological criticism, poststructuralism, and psychoanalytic criticism-hold promise for the continued transformation of these studies in the future. Focusing on readings from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, this volume illuminates the current multidisciplinary debates emerging from postmodernism by exposing the still highly contested epistemological, political, and ethical positions in the field of biblical studies.
In this paperback reprint (which includes a new Afterword, responding to critics), noted Rabbinic scholar David Weiss Halivni offers a new explanation for the willingness of the early Sages to attribute to scripture meanings nowhere suggested in the text itself. He posits a sharp discontinuity between what the sages considered a valid meaning and our own modern understanding of textual meaning. He argues that the original meaning of the very work "peshat" was actually "context" rather than "literal" meaning, thus explaining the Rabbis' expressions of respect for peshat in the face of their evident unconcern for literal meaning in the text.
..". a superb example of modern Orthodox Jewish biblicalinterpretation." -- Interpretation
"This detailed andintriguing work represents years of thought and meticulous analysis as well as afresh reading of several familiar prophetic narratives found in the OT." -- TheCatholic Biblical Quarterly
..". this book containswell-argued and thoughtful literary readings... Simon is thoroughly versed in thesecondary literature but has managed to write a volume accessible to both scholarsand informed general readers..." -- Choice
Noted biblicalscholar Uriel Simon undertakes a systematic study of prophetic narratives in theBible. He focuses on seven stories (including Samuel's call to prophecy, Saul atEndor, and David and Bathsheba), analyzing their form and structure, theirrhetorical devices, their descriptions of character and motive, their narrativetechniques -- in short, on the ways in which the stories are told.
Sirach is a book that raises a very distinctive set of problems. What should we call it (Sirach, Ecclesiasticus, Ben Sira)? What is the relation between the traditional Greek text and the recently rediscovered Hebrew parts of the book? Where did it stand in relation to Jewish tradition and the Hellenism that was sweeping the Mediterranean world? In this guide, a new addition to Sheffield's series on the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, these questions are discussed, as well as the use the author made of Scripture, and the scholarly placing of the book in the Wisdom tradition. The author's attitude to women is considered and the volume ends with a consideration of some of the chief theological themes of Sirach.
An important reinterpretation of the Hebrew Bible as historiography, now available in paper. The First Historians is a book that no one with serious interest in biblical scholarship can afford to neglect. Halpern is one of the most fertile, exuberant, and audacious minds of his generation. He is witty, learned, and outrageous in turn, a Momigliano of Hebrew historiography. One learns more from one book by Halpern than from a dozen by his plodding peers."-Frank Moore Cross, Harvard University "With characteristic imagination, erudition, and wit, Halpern challenges the established understanding. . . of the Former Prophets. His designation of those books as historiography will surprise those who think that genre began with the Greeks. No one concerned with the roots of historical thinking in the West or with the relationship of the Bible to history can afford to miss this extraordinary volume"-Jon D. Levenson, Harvard Divinity School "It is an impressive and extremely important book. My only regret is that someone didn't write these things long ago-Halpern shows himself to be a master of literature, history, Semitic linguistics, ancient Near Eastern texts, and archaeology. No one in his generation controls all of these tools of the trade as Halpern does."-Richard Elliott Friedman, University of California, San Diego
Aiming to provide a concise account of the Hebrew Bible, this text gives a brief account of the place of the Hebrew scriptures in Jewish life and thought, from the early Rabbinic period to the present day. This is followed by an outline of each of the 36 books of the Jewish canon, and a brief presentation of their contents, illustrated by quotations from scripture. The presentation follows the actual structure of the book.
Considering the extent of social injustice in the world today, how can Christians combine their efforts with those of other concerned people to solve this problem? This book offers an answer to this question by examining how Israel used the social justice thought of other Near-Eastern peoples to face its own justice crises. It uses as its framework the Hebrew Bible's statements about this issue in its law codes, prophetic books, psalms, narrative works and wisdom literature.
One of the world's foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community that produced them provides an authoritative new English translation of the two hundred longest and most important nonbiblical Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, along with an introduction to the history of the discovery and publication of each manuscript and the background necessary for placing each manuscript in its actual historical context.
Judith Abrams, author of the highly acclaimed The Talmud for Beginners, Volumes I & II, creates yet another way of making Talmud study easy and accessible for the novice. Rabbi Abrams has chosen to work with the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud, edited and with commentary by Adin Steinsaltz, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. This volume is a must for both student and teacher.
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