"The Invention of Hebrew" is the first book to approach the Bible in light of recent findings on the use of the Hebrew alphabet as a deliberate and meaningful choice. Seth L. Sanders connects the Bible's distinctive linguistic form - writing down a local spoken language - to a cultural desire to speak directly to people, summoning them to join a new community that the text itself helped call into being. Addressing the people of Israel through a vernacular literature, Hebrew texts gained the ability to address their audience as a public. By comparing Biblical documents with related ancient texts in Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Babylonian, this book details distinct ways in which Hebrew was a powerfully self-conscious political language. Revealing the enduring political stakes of Biblical writing, "The Invention of Hebrew" demonstrates how Hebrew assumed and promoted a source of power previously unknown in written literature: 'the people' as the protagonist of religion and politics.
Publisher: University of Illinois Press