The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (Hardback)
  • The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (Hardback)
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The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (Hardback)

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£82.00
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 16/06/2016
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The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed a world of early Jewish writing larger than the Bible, from multiple versions of biblical texts to "revealed" books not found in our canon. Despite this diversity, the way we read Second Temple Jewish literature remains constrained by two anachronistic categories: a theological one, "Bible," and a bibliographic one, "book." The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity suggests ways of thinking about how Jews understood their own literature before these categories had emerged. Using familiar sources such as the Psalms, Ben Sira, and Jubilees, Mroczek tells an unfamiliar story about sacred writing not bound in a Bible. In many texts, we see an awareness of a vast tradition of divine writing found in multiple locations only partially revealed in available scribal collections. Ancient heroes like David are not simply imagined as scriptural authors, but multi-dimensional characters who come to be known as great writers and honored as founders of growing textual traditions. Scribes recognize the divine origin of texts like the Enoch literature and other writings revealed to ancient patriarchs, which present themselves not as derivative of material we now call biblical, but prior to it. Sacred writing stretches back to the dawn of time, yet new discoveries are always around the corner. While listening to the way ancient writers describe their own literature-their own metaphors and narratives about writing-this book also argues for greater suppleness in our own scholarly imagination, no longer bound by modern canonical and bibliographic assumptions.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190279837
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 520 g
Dimensions: 240 x 164 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Mroczek's argument is innovative, cogent, and commendable as a corrective to situate scholars' historical perspective. * H. H. Hardy II, Southeastern Theological Review *
Mroczek is a sage guide, and I am open to following her into a brave new world with neither Bibles nor books, but I want to hear more from her about these peculiarly Jewish textual practices. Luckily for us all, this is only Mroczek's first book. * Matthew V. Novenson, Review of Biblical Literature *
The book is breathtaking and beautifully-written, taking issue with the notion of both 'the Bible' and 'the book'. Stripping away scholarly assumptions about early Jewish literary culture, this study tackles the scraps, fragments and scrolls that have, over the centuries, been imaginatively ordered often, as Mroczek shows, erroneously into a coherent canon. The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity asks readers to explore the literature of early Judaism on its own terms, and, in doing so, prompts us to rethink dominant paradigms which structure our imaginative approach to biblical literature and textual circulation. Despite its impressive and wide-ranging scholarship, the book is deft of touch, enjoyable and accessible, and should be read by any scholar interested in the history of the Bible, early Jewish literature, and the idea of the book. * Claire Squires, The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishings Director of Publications and Awards *
'Biblical' primacy is a mirage that continues to mislead scholars in their quest to recover the scriptural roots of both Judaism and Christianity. The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity promises to remake the ways in which scholars think about and talk about the role of Bible in early Jewish and Christian communities. The book is perhaps the most important publication on 'how the Bible came to be' to date. * John C. Reeves, Blumenthal Professor of Judaic Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte *
Religious communities today often take for granted that in ancient times the 'Bible' consisted of an exclusive pool of textually inflexibleand therefore divinely inspiredwritings. Mroczek's study beautifully demonstrates how anachronistic this assumption is. At the same time this book recovers for us a religious world that did not require a fixed objectifiable text or collection of texts in order for discourse about the sacred in writing and memory to be meaningful and, indeed, transformative. This constructive approach to Second Temple Judaism is a must-read! * Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Chair, Institute of New Testament Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen *
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls overturned longstanding assumptions about the formation of biblical books and canons. Moving beyond this much-repeated insight, Eva Mroczek invites the reader to rethink what 'books' and 'literature' did and meant for ancient Jewsin and beyond the Bible. The result is a brilliant study bristling with astonishingly fresh insights, challenging questions, and creative new approaches, opening up exciting conversations at the crossroads of Biblical Studies, Jewish Studies, and Book History. * Annette Yoshiko Reed, Graduate Chair, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania *

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