Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Writing this book has been an equally joyful and terrifying process. At the outset of such a task, it would have been impossible to imagine how much help I would require in order to finish it. Now, looking back on its completion, I am struck by how difficult it is to name all those who have contributed to it along the way. Perhaps, as one does in making a sacrifice to an “unknown god,” I can say “thank...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction: The Constitutive Divide of Reception History

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pp. 1-14

This book begins here, as many books do, with a sketch of the contours of my general argument. I attempt to delimit its borders and situate it within the context of recent scholarship. Immediately, a problem arises: this book is concerned with the concept of borders. In particular, it challenges the ways in which borders function throughout critical biblical studies. Perhaps the best way to...

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1. The Miltonesque Concept of the Original Text

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pp. 15-51

According to many biblical scholars, biblical critics study original texts and contexts, while reception historians are responsible for studying later versions of texts and their meaning in later contexts.1 The reception historian looks beyond the original text, while the traditional biblical scholar looks at the original text itself. Thus, in order to begin a thorough study of the later texts and contexts...

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2. Living in Pottersville: An Alternate Approach to Textual Criticism

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pp. 52-74

Some visual illusions play on the skill of the human brain, honed by many millennia of evolutionary pressures, to locate clear borders delineating objects.1 In the case of the famous Kanizsa triangle, a white triangle complete with clear borders seems to emerge from the image. If one looks closely, however, it quickly becomes apparent that no borders are present. Our brains supplied them for us. What...

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3. Anchor or Spandrel: The Concept of the Original Context

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pp. 75-92

In light of the biblical text’s pluriformity, textual criticism cannot identify the boundary between the original text and its reception. Alternatively, many scholars locate the boundary between original and reception by means of the concept of the original context. The concept of original context allows scholars to select a particular meaning of a particular text and declare it to be original. A...

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4. On Tigers and Cages: Rethinking Context

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pp. 93-115

Biblical scholars often claim that the original context holds the proper meaning of a text. Michael Fox, for example, claims that his “main concern in approaching a text is essentially . . . to ascertain the meaning of the text, which is to say, the authorial intention.”1 For many, the meaning of a text is singular, and it is equivalent to the intentions of an author as they existed in the original...

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5. Mapping the Garden of Forking Paths: A Nomadic Reception History

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pp. 116-141

In “On the Genealogy of Morality,” Nietzsche outlines the basic rationale for a process-oriented study of cultural objects. The meaning of any cultural object, Nietzsche argues, is not defined or contained at its point of origin; rather, the cultural object transforms as it traverses contexts: “The origin of the emergence of a thing and its ultimate usefulness, its practical application and incorporation...

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6. Justice, Survival, Presence: Job 19:25–27

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pp. 142-162

As I construe it, reception history is not primarily an interpretative practice (i.e., “What does this text mean?”). Rather, reception history creates a model of repeated textual experimentation (i.e., “How might this text function?”).1 To be sure, creating a model of textual experimentation does require much reading, but this reading is of a different sort from interpretation. Instead of reading one...

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7. Trajectories of Job 19:25–27: The Example of Survival

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pp. 163-201

Introduction In this final chapter, I offer a glimpse of Job 19:25–27’s problematic structure, manifest in its reception history. I have chosen to focus on the semantic node of survival simply by virtue of its breadth of receptions, but I also offer a brief sketch of presence and justice. While I briefly touch on transmutations and nonsemantic effects as they occur in the history of this text’s processual...

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Conclusion: Nomadology and the Future of Biblical Studies

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pp. 202-206

If there is an island of consensus amid the turbulent sea of biblical scholarship, it is this: wherever we encounter them, biblical texts are not quite at home. The biblical text has an uneasy relationship with modern contexts, to be sure—hence the very need for something like biblical scholarship. Yet even the oldest surviving fragments of biblical texts are displaced. Genesis cannot call Qumran...

Notes

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pp. 207-246

Bibliography

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pp. 247-274

Subject Index

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pp. 275-294

Scripture Index

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pp. 295-300

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About the Author

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Brennan W. Breed is an assistant professor of the Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. In 2012, he earned a PhD in religious studies from Emory University. He lives in Decatur, Georgia, with his wife, Catherine, and his two children, Frederick and Margaret Ann.