My latest must-read

March 24, 2007

(seen in the HUP display room)

Karel van der Toorn, Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible

– goes into some questions we don’t normally think about: what was a “book” in the pre-modern world? How was writing used, how did things come to be written? And what does this tell us about the meaning of what did get written? What can we infer about the Bible from what is known about the uses of writing in other, contemporary cultures, especially Mesopotamian?

He says, the “book” as we know it, a thing to be taken home (or at least sat down with) and read, was a creation of the Hellenistic period. Before that time writing was always connected to performance, i.e. recitation.  The Bible thus should be seen as a part of the “flow of tradition.”

A definite must-read. As soon as I’ve got two or three other things out of the way.

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