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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 178 Reviews and contributes to the length. Similarly, the reader must repeatedly make major transitions from the somewhat dry, scholarly, abstract style of most of the commentary to those sections which are not only more theological and reflective, but even didactic or homiletical. Eileen Schuller McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario LBS 4KJ THE BOOK OF GOD: A RESPONSE TO THE BmLE. By Gabriel Josipovici. Pp. xv + 350. New Haven: Yale University, 1988. Cloth. Gabriel Josipovici is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction , and his articles include the essay on the Epistle to the Hebrews in The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode. This book on the Bible is a stimulating conversation on reading and criticism. I would heartily recommend it to anyone concerned with biblical texts and Western literature. For me it was a good reading and, in my view, it would be an excellent secondary text to use for certain intermediate and advanced courses in the Bible. Yet my praise must be qualified. As interesting and instructive as this series of essays is, I find it flawed by its characteristically contemporary literary bias that gives the advantage to language in the form of narrative. To be fair, Josipovici does take into account the legal portions of the Torah and the genealogies, but I would argue that he neglects the very center of religion and culture, namely, the ritual of sacrifice and its various ramifications which include, above all, the role of the victim and the scapegoat. It will not do to rejoin that this is a treatise in literary criticism, not analysis of ritual and sacrifice, for the author's view of literature, particularly biblical literature (see below), is such that a given work's own mode of establishing a world, its own "truth," must be taken into account. Josipovici suggests this perspective graphically with the jacket cover image that is repeated on the page facing p. 3: an illustration from a late Ethiopic biblical manuscript that shows Moses receiving the tablets of the Law. Yet in spite of this pictorial epitaph, he is like most critics and biblical narratologists in his silence about the relation of Torah to sacrifice. In my opening statement I used the word "conversation" advisedly. Josipovici carries on a conversation with the reader, addressing the reader Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 179 Reviews in the very mode of exploration, discovery, and understanding that he emphasizes in biblical narrative. In the best British fashion he is anecdotal without being disorganized, personal without being sentimental. I infer from the many conversation partners he acknowledges in the preface, as well as from the mention of certain periodicals where his essays have appeared, that he is Jewish. However, his discussion of the NT is quite fair, whether or not one agrees with his conclusions, and in fact he presents some of the most helpful insights on the themes of "gospe}"' and "incarnation " that I have encountered. Nonetheless, I think it is accurate to say that most of the positive influences on his thinking are Jewish, and the point of view he consistently asks us to consider is informed by an interplay of the Jewish Scriptures and the history of the modem novel. For Josipovici, the Bible both is and is not literature. It is not mere literature, but literature that speaks to us "authoritatively-about the nature of authority" (p. 26). But then any great literary work is not just literature. " ...No one would read [the Aeneid] 'with no interest in Rome', and yet no one would deny that it was a poem and not a sacred text" (p. 24). The difference between the Bible and other literary works is that the Bible is regarded as authoritative, that is, canonical-not only in the theological sense, but because it informs our cultural and religious presuppositions about how to read any book. Josipovici recognizes that the Hebrew Bible (HB) and the NT have entered into Western culture as two parts of one book. For the Christian tradition the HB is the OTt a kind of arch hanging in mid-air until completed by the NT. By contrast, the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 178-182
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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