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Who Wrought the Bible?

Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets

Yair Mazor

Publication Year: 2008

Approaching the Hebrew Bible as a work of literary art, Yair Mazor examines its many genres, including historical narratives, poetic narratives, poetry, psalms, and songs. Line drawings from a late nineteenth-century Bible illustrate many of the most famous scenes in scripture, suggesting another aesthetic layer of the text. By breaking the Bible into constituent parts, Mazor traces the range of its writing styles, reconfiguring the work as a literary collage and an artistic masterpiece. He shows how the aesthetics of the texts that comprise the Bible serve its over-arching message, and he develops a literary portrait of its authors by decoding their cryptic aesthetic devices.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. vii-vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-x

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pp. xi-xii

My wholehearted gratitude is hereby extended to the following individuals who bestowed upon me their wisdom, prudent input, professional guidance,and amicable encouragement throughout the process of putting together this Mr. Raphael Kadushin, UW Press senior acquisitions editor, whose graciously endowed help, enthusiastic support, insightful advice, and singularly...

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Policy of Transliteration

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pp. xiii-xiv

The many different sounds in the Hebrew language not present in the English language naturally pose a problem of transliteration. This problem has, however, resulted in a variety of transliterations and policies, some of them considerably remote from each other. The transliteration system/policy adopted and practiced...

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pp. 3-27

This book is a scientific study of biblical literature, an in-depth examination of the aesthetic devices that operate inside a literary text and of the means by which these devices serve the ideological message that the biblical text aims to convey. The...

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1. One More Mandatory Introduction

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pp. 28-46

This chapter explains how the tools outlined in the introduction function within the aesthetic and ideological systems of the biblical text. I present thirteen examples demonstrating how the aesthetic mechanism works, how it is "harnessed" to the Bible's ideology, and how the Bible is designed to serve its purposes....

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2. What You See Is Not What You Get: When Unity Masquerades as Disarray

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pp. 47-56

Psalm 23 and Genesis 4 deal with the stories of Cain, Abel, Lemech, and the descendents of Adam and Eve after the murder of Abel by Cain. At first sight, both texts seem to dwell on two divergent, seemingly unrelated topics, where characters, plots, and themes have been haphazardly lumped together. However, a close interpretive...

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3. Abraham versus Abraham: The Real Aqeda Story

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pp. 57-63

The story of Isaac's binding (aqeda) seems to be one of the most widely discussed chapters in biblical exegesis. The chronicle of the father whose profound faith in his God almost led him to sacrifice his only son has been examined from humanistic,...

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4. Psalm 24: Sense and Sensibility in Biblical Composition

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pp. 64-72

Even though many interpreters have scrutinized Psalm 24, its composition calls for more investigation.1 The psalm's compositional and thematic integrity are somewhat baffling, even disturbing. The psalm opens with ardent praise to God's might...

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5. The Song of Songs, or The Story of Stories?

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pp. 73-94

The aesthetic quality of the Song of Songs is beyond doubt. However, the nature of the book, its unity, its presumed date of composition, and other matters involving its characteristics and its writer have been a source of scholarly doubts and debates. Even the book's canonization evokes questions, which are not satisfied by Rabbi Akiva's statement that the Song of Songs is the holiest...

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6. Sex, Lies, and the Bible

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pp. 95-126

This chapter reflects a feminist view based on observation and analysis of the various ways in which the Bible treats women, many (although not all) of whose stories are narrated in its chronicles. What clearly emerges from the portrayal of women in the Bible is that they are intellectually inferior to males, morally deficient,...

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7. Rewarding Aesthetic Excavation in a Biblical Literary Site

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pp. 127-134

Chapters 17 and 18 in Genesis give us the opportunity for an in-depth look, first of all, at an aesthetic-ideological study examining a variety of literary devices (associated mostly with composition and rhetoric) whose sole aim is to underline Abraham's superior status both as God's elected disciple and his herald. And second, we focus on a comparative analysis of ...

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8. When Job and Genesis Visit Psalm 139

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pp. 135-147

Most of the works that address Psalm 139 are primarily dedicated to detailed linguistic commentary. Nevertheless, scholars have not neglected the prevailing theme in esse in the psalm, which is God's absolute control of mankind's life on earth. God not only created human beings but also closely monitors even our tiniest activities...

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9. Hosea 5:1-3: Between Compositional Rhetoric and Rhetorical Composition

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pp. 148-158

This chapter aims to cast new light upon one aspect of Hosea's literary art, and its persuasive impact, by enlisting the investigative techniques of structuralist rhetorical criticism as inspired by the Russian formalists.1...


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pp. 159-170

General Index

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pp. 171-178

Index of Biblical Citations

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pp. 179-182

E-ISBN-13: 9780299228439
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299228446

Publication Year: 2008