The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity

Hardcover | May 3, 2016

byEva Mroczek

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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 twoanachronistic 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 scribalcollections. 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 otherwritings 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.

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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 twoanachronistic categories: a theological one, "Bible,...

Eva Mroczek is Assistant Professor of Premodern Judaism at University of California, Davis.

other books by Eva Mroczek

Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 3, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190279834

ISBN - 13:9780190279837

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction: Beyond Bible and Book1. The Mirage of the Bible: The Case of the Book of PsalmsIntroduction: Milton's Vial and the Uncontained TextI. Biblical SpectaclesII. Why there was no "Book of Psalms" in the Second Temple Period: Manuscripts and the ImaginationIII. Psalms without Psalters: Rethinking Psalms Traditions Beyond "Bible" and "Book"Conclusion: Bibliographic Surprises in Early Judaism2. The Sweetest Voice: the Poetics of AttributionIntroduction: What Did Ancient Attribution Claim? Aesthetics and AuthorshipI. Characters in Search of Stories: Authority, Pseudonymity, and PoeticsII. The Psalm Superscriptions and Davidic VoiceIII. Sinful King to Angelic Bard: The Making of the Sweet Singer of IsraelConclusion: The Life of the Writer3. Like A Canal from a River: Scribal Products and ProjectsIntroduction: The Poetic "I": Historical or Legendary?I. The First Jewish Author? Ben Sira and the Authorial NameII. What is "The Book of Ben Sira"? Open Books and Authentic TextIII. The Afterlives of Ben Sira as Text and CharacterConclusion: Metaphors and Manuscripts4. Shapes of Scriptures: The Non-Biblical Library of Early JudaismIntroduction: "Collecting, if possible, all the books in the world"I. Mental Architecture and the Shape of the Sacred Library in Early JudaismII. From Forgery to Exegesis: The Non-Biblical Libraries of Modern PublishingIII. Jubilees as Bibliography: A Native History of Written RevelationConclusion: Bibliography and Totality5. Outside the Number: Counting, Canons, and the Boundaries of RevelationIntroduction: When Haile Selassie Finished the BibleI. Qualitative Numbers: Twenty-Two and Twenty-Four Books in Josephus and 4EzraII. Beyond Psalm 150: When King David Finished the PsalterIII. Canons, Closure, and the Insufficiency of ScriptureConclusion: Revelation Out of ReachConclusionBibliographyIndex