Before the Bible: The Liturgical Body and the Formation of Scriptures in early Judaism (Hardback)
  • Before the Bible: The Liturgical Body and the Formation of Scriptures in early Judaism (Hardback)
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Before the Bible: The Liturgical Body and the Formation of Scriptures in early Judaism (Hardback)

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£47.99
Hardback 192 Pages / Published: 01/10/2018
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Before the Bible reveals the landscape of scripture in an era prior to the crystallization of the rabbinic Bible and the canonization of the Christian Bible. Most accounts of the formation of the Hebrew Bible trace the origins of scripture through source critical excavation of the archaeological "tel" of the Bible or the analysis of the scribal hand on manuscripts in text-critical work. But the discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls have transformed our understanding of scripture formation. Judith Newman focuses not on the putative origins and closure of the Bible but on the reasons why scriptures remained open, with pluriform growth in the Hellenistic-Roman period. Drawing on new methods from cognitive neuroscience and the social sciences as well as traditional philological and literary analysis, Before the Bible argues that the key to understanding the formation of scripture is the widespread practice of individual and communal prayer in early Judaism. The figure of the teacher as a learned and pious sage capable of interpreting and embodying the tradition is central to understanding this revelatory phenomenon. The book considers the entwinement of prayer and scriptural formation in five books reflecting the diversity of early Judaism: Ben Sira, Daniel, Jeremiah/Baruch, Second Corinthians, and the Qumran Hodayot (Thanksgiving Hymns). While not a complete taxonomy of scripture formation, the book illuminates performative dynamics that have been largely ignored as well as the generative role of interpretive tradition in accounts of how the Bible came to be.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190212216
Number of pages: 192
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Judith Newman's Before the Bible breaks new and important ground in our recognition and appreciation of the dynamically fluid interfaces between scriptural formation and interpretation, prayer, and their performative enactments by both the social and private body. Her engagement with both ancient texts and modern theorists continually encourages us to rethink the very categories into which we all-too-commonly squeeze these ancient recitations. Her insights are no less illuminating for the after-history of the Bible's continuing reception to our day. * Steven Fraade, author of From Tradition to Commentary: Torah and Its Interpretation in the Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy *
This immensely learned and creative volume presents the much discussed story of the emergence of the Hebrew Bible in an entirely new light. Its sophisticated exploration of the role of prayer both as embodied performance and as a catalyst in the creation of scripture and identity fundamentally changes the way we approach the significance of ancient Jewish prayer. A thoughtful and innovative gem of a book. * Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham *
In this highly original book, Judith Newman casts new light on the formation of Scripture, by avoiding a teleological narrative, and focusing instead on the ways in which scriptural texts were used in prayer, to form the identities of individuals and of communities. This is an important contribution to our understanding of both Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. * John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale University *

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