Maven in Blue Jeans
A Festschrift in Honor of Zev Garber
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Purdue University Press
A Scholar’s Creation
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Autumn’s light casts a warm glow upon the bookcases. He leans back into the big chair at his study desk. Comfortable and secure, he puffs upon his pipe. The scent of cherry-blend tobacco permeates the air. One hour pleasantly passes as he begins his work. He hopes it will be good...
Maven in Blue Jeans
A Brief Introduction
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It was, perhaps, most propitious that I called Zev Garber on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday with a proposition: Would he honor those of us who respect him and his scholarship, and to and for whom he has been both a mentor and a friend to so many of us, by allowing me to edit a Festschrift in his honor? Taken somewhat aback by my proposal, he humbly and honestly demurred, but promised to share this request with his wife, Susan, and get back to me within the week. Which of course he did ...
Part 1. Exegesis and Eisegesis: Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Rabbinic Literature
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The Domestication of a Radical Jew: Paul of Tarsus
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The eminent Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson observes in his 1991 prize-winning book titled Freedom in the Making of Western Culture: “Paul [of Tarsus] is the greatest figure in the history of Western religious and social thought, not only because he was the first to pose” the most profound questions about freedom, “but because the answers he gave have determined all subsequent reflections on them ...
A “Seminal” Study of the Jesus Drasha in the Gospel of Matthew
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My association with the esteemed professor in blue jeans goes back to the early 1980s when he was the dynamic editor and manager of various scholarly writings connected with the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (NAPH) and I was a relative newcomer to academia. Zev, just “Zev” with no pretentious titles, encouraged me to publish and speak in his forums, to meet the accomplished scholars of that era, to write reviews for his journals. When I was unable to attend a conference at the last...
The Messy Realities of Life: A Rereading of Numbers 19 and 20
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The “happenstance” of textual contiguity has always been a source of fascination to me. Does the writer intend for the reader to understand that the willful placement of words, sentences, paragraphs, and even chapters are themselves valuable insights to the meaning of the text as a whole? For ex-ample, does rereading Numbers 19 and 20 provide a “remez”—a hint—of a deeper meaning of these enigmatic chapters? In Numbers 19 we read of the parah adumah, the Red Heifer, a paradoxical ritual ...
A Cosmopolitan “Student of the Sages”: Jacob of Kefar Nevoraia in Rabbinic Literature
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My first academic lecture was given at a regional conference of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew in Long Beach, California. My topic was “On the Use of Rabbinic Literature in Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels: The Amidah in Luke 18?” I remember fondly my excitement at my first paper, and my even greater enthusiasm at entering into what was for me foreign and somewhat subversive territory, New Testament studies. The chair of this session was our own Zev Garber, by ...
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In the summer of 1992 I was visiting several libraries in northern Italy together with my son, now Rabbi Hillel Boaz Gruber, to peruse some manuscripts of Bible commentaries by Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Isaaki, 1040–1105). The goal was to research, collect, and catalog examples of the approximately twelve diagrams that Rashi had added to his commentary as an integral part of the attempt to illuminate both the Bible and previous interpretations ...
Dialogue as Praxis: A Midrashic Reading of Numbers 19–20 and Hebrews 9
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My relationship with Zev Garber now spans more than twenty years. He has helped me to develop a special approach to dialogue that not only shapes all of my work but also has led to the forming of a group that has now engaged in a dialogue on sacred texts for nearly fifteen years.
Testing the Results of Richard Kalmin: A Null Hypothesis Examined in the Setting of Mishnah and Bavli Tractate Moed Qatan
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These statements of Kalmin aim at a historical outcome: “early Amoraic generations . . . played a role in the editorial process.”⁵ By implication he wishes to validate attributions of sayings to named sages and so confirm the historical value of attributions. Kalmin’s studies open the way to the present project, which is systematically to find evidences of layers of knowledge that are preserved in the final, coherent statement of the Talmud at the end of its
Creation and Mortalization: A Religio-Literary Perspective
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It is an honor and privilege to write for a Festschrift paying tribute to Zev Garber. He is an exceptional scholar; but, more importantly, he is a kind and considerate man, who shows a depth of feeling for Although we generally approach Gen. 1:1–3:24, the first major pericope in the Hebrew Scriptures,religious text, the narrative as many have noted contains a number of intertwined and powerful liter-epic unto itself, is the introduction to the remainder of Genesis as well as the prose epic work, Genesis ...
Jeremiah, the Shoah, and the Restoration of Israel
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The Book of Jeremiah is unique among the prophetic books insofar as it presents the oracles and activities of the only one of the prophets to live through the Babylonian siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Other prophets may have lived through such catastrophe, for example, Ezekiel received the news of Jerusalem’s fall while living in Babylonian exile, and Isaiah lived at the time of Samaria’s fall to the Assyrian empire, but Jeremiah is the only prophetic book to give its readers a glimpse of life in ...
Part 2. Jewish-Christian-Muslim and Other Dialogues
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Jewish-Christian Relations: A Dialogue with Zev Garber
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I have been in active dialogue, both personally and in print, with Professor Zev Garber for over fifteen very satisfying and enriching (certainly for me) years. In the process I have been constructively challenged by and learned much from him. I hope that he has, at least on some occasions, picked up a useful insight or two from me. I consider Garber to be one of the most thoughtful scholars on either “side” of the contemporary and historic Jewish-Christian dialogue. So if the following summary of some of ...
Who Owns the Truth? The Question of the “Other” in Post denominational Judaism and Christianity(and Islam) in the Next Fifty Years
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For almost three decades (1974–2000), I labored full-time “in the vineyards of the Lord,” serving primarily rabbinically in Jewish congregations in Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville, Alabama, and Dallas, Texas, including academic postings in those communities as well. Since 2001, I have been a full-time member of the University of Alabama faculty and part-time rabbi of a small congregation in Tuscaloosa. In all of these viable centers of modern American liberal Jewish life, I repeatedly reminded those ...
The Backwards Man and the Jewish Giant: Mirrors of Traumatic Memory in the Late Photographs of Diane Arbus
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One of Diane Arbus’s lesser-known but most-revealing photographs is called “The Backwards Man in his hotel room, N.Y.C. 1961.” Part of a series Arbus did on “Eccentrics” for a photo essay published in Harper’s Bazaar, it depicts a contortionist from Hubert’s Museum named Joe Allen.¹ Appearing to be about sixty years old, Allen stands in profile, facing a bright naked lightbulb that hangs from the ceiling of a cramped room. The apartment features a bed and chairs that, as in Van Gogh’s painting of his ...
Developments in Catholic-Jewish Relations: 1990 and Beyond
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The last fifteen years or so have witnessed significant new developments but also the emergence of new challenges in the Catholic-Jewish relationship. In this essay, I will highlight some of the main new developments and discuss the emerging challenges, focusing in particular on four areas: (1) the Holocaust, (2) the theology of the Church’s relationship with Judaism in the light of new biblical research, (3) Jewish understandings of the land of Israel, and (4) joint social responsibility. In considering all ...
Part 3. Judaism as Historiosophy and Thought
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Philo and the Dangers of Philosophizing
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Sometimes there is insight to be found in a joke. In ioco veritas. There is a story of a yeshiva bochur, a student in a yeshiva, who has reached that age when he should be thinking of getting married. And so arrangements are made for him to go out with a young lady. Since he knows nothing about such matters, he inquires as to what he is to talk about with her. Well, he is told, there are three topics—family, food, and philosophy. He meets the young lady and he is tongue-tied. But then he remembers...
Exegetical Theology and Divine Suffering in Jewish Thought
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It is an honor to participate in this volume in celebration of Zev Garber. His lifework has been devoted to the phenomenon of Jewish suffering and its study, including the pedagogies of its cultural transmission. In this regard, he has also focused on the exegetical uses and transformations of this subject, for good and ill, in both the scholarly and the popular culture. For these reasons, I would like to contribute an essay that shall attempt to set forth some of the Jewish expressions of our subject—in a way that ...
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Paths to God
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In his best-known work, God in Search of Man, a book that has been called “the single most sophisticated, profound and comprehensive statement within modern Judaic theology,” Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–72), one of the most significant Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century, expresses his deep concern over the decline of religion today.¹ This concern extends beyond the survival of Judaism The cardinal problem is not the survival of religion, but the survival of man. What is required is ...
The Reception of Early German Haskalahin Nineteenth-Century Haskalah
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We know that at the end of the nineteenth century, the Berlin Haskalah was severely criticized by various Maskilim and post-Haskalah writers. However, what is less known is the historical and literary process that led to this critical position. That is to say, the transition in attitude toward early Haskalah as the centers of the Haskalah moved to the Austro-Hungarian empire and Galicia as well as to Russia, Lithuania, and Poland. The latter part of the Haskalah was the area of concentration of the ...
Part 4. Reflections from the Field and the Classroom
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Traveling in Ga(r)berdine
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It is early March 1991. The Dutch would shrug “March wags its tail” about the South Jersey weather we are experiencing: snow, high winds—the kind of foul weather that makes you want to curl up with a book, but there will be no curling this night, not even the funny kind with a broom. In a few days, the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey will be hosting the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, and scholars strictly observing the Sabbath are beginning to arrive ...
Jewish Studies without Jews: The Growth of an Academic Field in Austria and Germany
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In the last few decades, Germany and Austria have experienced a staggering expansion of the field of Jewish studies.
The Story of Shofar: An Editor’s Personal Account
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This is a personal account, depending to a considerable extent on memory, flawed and partial as it may be.
“But It Isn’t on the Test!”: Holocaust Education in the Age of “No Child Left Behind”
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I currently teach in the School of Education at a state university that is considered one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). By the time students have enrolled in one of the education courses I teach, they have typically completed most if not all of their required coursework in history, English, mathematics, and science. By the time students enter my classroom they have learned most of what they will teach and have begun preprofessional courses designed to help them learn how to teach it....
Spelling and Kabbalah: A Review Essay of Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season
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As the novel Bee Season begins, the protagonist, nine-year-old Eliza Naumann, is the Other, the Outsider, in a family of intense unearthly intellectuals. A disappointment to her Cantor father Saul, distanced from her obsessive/compulsive lawyer mother, Miriam, ignored by her Bar Mitzvah–student brother, and not selected as Aaron was for the Talented and Gifted program at her high school, Eliza seems resigned to a secondary position in her family, appropriate to her birth order and gender ...
Part 5. Shoah Theology and Other Shoah Matters,Including Antisemitism
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What Do Americans Read When They Read about the Holocaust?
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In January of 2006, Oprah Winfrey announced that Elie Wiesel’s Night would be a selection for her book club because she considered it “required reading for all humanity.” Soon thereafter, Wiesel appeared on Oprah’s syndicated television show and accompanied her on a tour of Auschwitz. Although Night has been a perennial bestseller in the past thirty years, it shot up to number one on the New York Times’ sales rankings for nonfiction paperbacks by February of 2006. Oprah’s Boutique currently ...
The Evolution and Devolution of a World Apart: The Nazi Concentration Camps and the Holocaust
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Looming over every positive achievement of the twentieth century is the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people, a genocidal explosion that saw a sudden and irrevocable break with all of the secular humanistic traditions that had been developing in Europe over the previous thousand years. The relationship between mass death and the industrial state that became manifested in the Holocaust was both intimate and interdependent, and, as a result of it having taken place, we have forever a yardstick ...
Soft-core Holocaust Denial: Trivialization and Sanitization in the Early Twenty-first Century
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Much attention has been paid in recent years to Holocaust denial, to those who have claimed that the Holocaust never happened. If truth be told, they are an annoyance and not quite a danger. The Irving v. Lipstadt trial in London dealt a significant blow to Holocaust denial as the most effective and the most informed of Holocaust deniers was exposed for what he is: a racist, antisemite, and serial fabricator, falsifying evidence and quotes in an attempt to exonerate Adolf Hitler and to restore his “good ...
The Scroll of the Shoah: The Case for the Writings of Yitzhak Katzenelson as the Basis of a Future Jewish Post-Shoah Jewish Theology
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This essay is written with Zev Garber in the forefront of my mind. He has always been a whirlwind of energy and activity. For the amount of teaching he does, his level of scholarly productivity is mind-boggling. Not only that, but Zev has been the mentor of many younger scholars. He inspires, he encourages, and he finds ways to get their work published. In short, Zev is an inspiration for scholarly achievement and passion. In the area of interfaith dialogue, Zev has been a pioneer with the Scholars ...
“Thou Shalt Teach It to Thy Children”: What American Jewish Children’s Literature Teaches about the Holocaust
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Although a good deal has been written about Holocaust education at the college and university level, little attention has been paid to what is being taught in Jewish institutions for younger students, that is, in day schools, supplementary schools, synagogues, and the like. Even less is known about what Jewish children who have no formal Jewish education after Bar/Bat Mitzvah age know about the Holocaust. Our interest in this project was sparked by a desire to know what “Millennials”—children coming of ...
Once More to the Jabbok: The Place of Midrashic Dialogue in Post-Shoah Hermeneutics
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Do midrash.¹ Work dialogically.² Attend to the missing faces.³ These three simple sentences guide my work as a post-Holocaust theologian, educator, and religious professional. Indeed, if by midrash I mean not simply the formal interpretive work of rabbinic tradition but the hermeneutic practice of reading sacred texts and other important documents with an interruptive logic that kindles what the rabbis call the “white fire” of the texts, then these three admonitions describe my understanding of ...
Portraits of Two Jewries: Experiencing the Shoah through Fiction
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Historians, sociologists, and theologians filter the Holocaust through their very specific scholarly prisms, but our primary task remains a telling of the story, permitting students as well as the general public to understand in the most visceral manner—beyond footnotes, charts, and numbers—that a monstrous event occurred. Important as the academicians’ efforts are for maintaining historical ac-curacy and intellectual acuity, it is not enough to rely solely upon learned compilations of data; thus, ...
No Vindication to Venomous Verdict: The Poem “Mr. Auschwitz” by Ronny Someck
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The most powerful components that protrude in this poem by Ronny Someck are the following two: stupendously scorching, scalding emotions and admirably aesthetic intricacy. That tempestuous “quarry” of emotions may be plausibly considered as the reservoir of the “raw materials” that feed the aesthetic mechanism and enable it to propel and operate its complex “engine.” Thus the poem’s erupting emotions act in capacity of a bedrock, on which the aesthetic mechanism is set ...
Holocaust or Shoah: The Greek Category versus Jewish Thought
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During my attendance at the 2001 Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches a survivor told me that she had come to a horrifying realization about the relation between Holocaust scholars and Holocaust survivors. Speaking in a whisper, as though afraid of her own words, she said to me, “I know now what they want us to do: they want us to die.” My initial reaction was shock. For reasons I did not immediately grasp, her words brought to mind one of the conference sessions on Holocaust ...
What Have We Learned from the Holocaust?
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There could be many questions with the form “What have we learned from . . . ?” The “blank” could be filled in by references to fields of inquiry, such as science or economics, or to events, such as some recent election or the Iraq War. The “blank” could also be filled by references to persons, such as Moses, Jesus, or one might add the names of recently problematic figures such as the racial-slurring talk-radio “shock-jock” Don Imus, the embattled and now former U.S. attorney general Alberto ...
On Oil and Antisemitism
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An attitudinal sea change has occurred in Europe. The nations of the European Union (EU), formerly the European Community (EC), have turned aggressively against Israel, and the post-Holocaust taboo on antisemitic speech and incitement, observed by the mainstream media and responsible political, religious, and intellectual leaders for decades, has been broken. When and why did this happen? How are we to understand the plethora of vulgarly antisemitic cartoons and caricatures, as well as state-...
Disraeli’s Boomerang Efforts to Combat Antisemitism: The Interplay of Ideas of Race, Religion, and Conspiracy
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Throughout his life Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) was scorned as a Jew: “the Jew scamp,” “that damned bumptious Jew boy,” “the wandering Jew, with the brand of Cane [sic] upon him,” and was subjected to bigoted attacks such as Sidney Herbert’s provoking a roar of laughter in the House of Commons by questioning Disraeli in solemn mockery, how anyone could adopt “a faith the profession of which must begin with a surgical operation!”¹ Disraeli often lamented, “Ah, it is not my Government they ...
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Obsessed with what no longer seems possible, Lost in the skein of words that no longer holds Promise of flight from the history of fire That no longer cleanses but scalds and scars, I descend from cirrus dreams to a small room Where remnants of star-birth scald the mind, Where golden letters born of first fire Still shimmer bright an instant at the core
The Landscape of Memory
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“We remember in situ, when the setting of our memory and the setting of our remembering are one and the same.”¹ And in this remembering, aspects of ourselves return to a place where memory began, and to a time when we lived these memories for the first time. We become—if only for an instant—the person who experienced these events for the first time, and saw the world, many lifetimes ago, through eyes that were still innocent ...
Part 6. Zionism and Hebrew Studies
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Hebrew Literature, Academic Politics,and Feminist Criticism: A Confessional Essay
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To what extent can we draw on our personal and professional narratives as a valid source of knowledge in order to substantiate a critique of our respective academic fields? How can we possibly crosscut from a subjective to a critical discourse, from emotion to fact and back? The following attempt to account for the unusual relationship between “my self ” and “my work,” and between “my work” and “my field” will be partial both epistemologically and chronologically. The possessive pronoun in “my ...
The Folktales of Rabbi Yosef Hayyim
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Rabbi Yosef Hayyim (1834–1909) was born in Baghdad, Iraq, into a family of notable rabbis. He was also known as Ben Ish Hai, which is the title of his major work on Jewish law published in Jerusalem in 1898. Yosef Hayyim was considered the most prominent rabbi of the Babylonian Jews in the latest generations. At the age of thirteen he was admitted to the famous Midrash Bet Zilkha, where the great Rabbi Abdallah Somekh taught him. A few years later, he retreated to his attic to study alone. At age ...
The Sha’ar Ha-Shamayim Synagogue (Keniset Ismā’īlīyah) in Cairo, Egypt
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A building is a cultural signifier that carries meaning to all that enter or view the building. A synagogue is a building that carries meaning for those who congregate in it as a community. In those cases in which the Jewish community dissipates, the synagogue mainly serves as a building block in the construction of a collective memory and as a teaching tool.
On Three Early Incidences of Hebrew Scriptin Western Art
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Though some have theorized that the Hebrew script in the trilingual titulus of the fourteenth-century Crucifixion by Giotto is the first appearance of Hebrew in Western art, the script in fact began to appear in that circumstance at least two centuries earlier, at the beginning of the twelfth century. Major changes in the Church’s relationship with the Jews occurred between these earliest appearances. For purposes of understanding the significance of the earlier date, the most important change was the ...
The Literary Quest for National Revival: From Hazaz’s “The Sermon” (1942) to Yehoshua’s Mr. Mani (1990)
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From Hazaz’s “The Sermon” (1942) to Yehoshua’s Mr. Mani (1990)From the earliest settlement period, mainstream Zionist writers have expressed concern that the psychological and ideological deformations that shaped Jewish life in the Diaspora will continue to define Israeli identity and pervert the relationship of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel. This concern, which has its canonical literary expression in Haim Hazaz’s story, “The Sermon” (1942), is ...
The Two-Bodied People, Their Cosmos, and the Origin of the Soul
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In 2001 I defined Israelite religions as “the varied, symbolic expressions of, and appropriate responses to the deities and powers that groups or communities deliberately affirmed as being of unrestricted value to them within their worldview.”¹ In this definition, I expressed my assumption that religion, like culture in general, is formed, formulated, and expressed through organized groups of people. Both are expressed semiotically and mediated through external realities such as spoken and written language, ...
A Garber Bibliography
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Page Count: 520
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies