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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 182 Reviews the process leading to symbol, myth, ritual, and theory. In his introductory essay written for a conference on the theories of Rene Girard, Walter Burkert, and Jonathan Z. Smith, Burton Mack points out that all three tend "to grant privilege to ritual (or event) as the generator of symbols and myths" ("Introduction: Religion and Ritual," in Violent Origins. Robert Hamerton-Kelly, ed., [Stanford, 1987]. pp. 51-52). Mack goes on to make the strong claim that future studies dealing with the various forms and expressions of religion must attend to primary acts and their ritualization. No longer does an epiphamc object or beingfocus the picturefor the religious imagination, providing a center around which a Sacred Order is orgamzed by means ofa system ofsymbols. Instead, an act (action, activity; Uor Burkert the primitive hunr,for Girardthe origin ofsacrifice in primitive violence)) has been noticedas a transaction ofconsequence, reflectedon as patternedsequence, and cultivated in rilUlll as ofprime importance (pp. 58-59, emphasis his). Myth-and by extension any kind of narrative text-will no longer be given theoretical preference over ritual reenactment of primary acts. Josipovici comes close to this view in the primacy he grants to utterance and his faithfulness to the form of the Torah, whose Sinaitic center from Exod 19 to Num 11 is made up primarily of legal and cultic material (see chap. 5, "Building the Tabernacle"). In fact, he suggests that "theoreticians might do well to tum their eyes from commentary and focus rather on the liturgical tradition of synagogue and church. For both the reading comes before the sermon or explication" (p. 294). Josipovici's The Book of God is a good point of departure for another stage in the journey of reading the biblical text and understanding what generates it James G. Williams Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 13244-1170 THE REDACTION OF THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD: AMO· RAIC OR SABORAIC? By Richard Kalmin. Monographs of Hebrew Union College 12. pp. xviii + 215. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College, 1989. Cloth. Professor Richard Kalmin of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America here addresses the question of the final stages in the redaction of the Talmud of Babylonia. He seeks knowledge of "who the redactors were. Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 183 Reviews at what time period(s) they lived, and how they reworked their sources." Kalmin proposes to answer these questions in a way that will prove unfamiliar, even recondite, obscure, and eccentric, to scholars who work on the history of documents that lack clear evidence of authorship, texttradition , and the like. For ordinarily when people ask about the history of a document, they want to know where and when it is first attested by some external writing, (e.g., when we find the first references to, and citations of, the document under study). Furthermore, the manuscript tradition will be asked to lead us to the earlier representation of the writing at hand. Finally, traits of the document overall will be assessed as a first step in finding out whether the writing is a composite or unitary, and, if unitary, for whom the document speaks. Kalmin rejects these universally accepted procedures, common in scholarship on anonymous writings of antiquity (whether the Pentateuch or the Mishnah or Midrash-compilations or the Yerushalmi). He chooses, rather, a quite different approach to the problem, and, I have to say, his method is one that seems to me somewhat precious and idiosyncratic. Because of the work's obscurity and self-referential character, I am inclined to wonder whether his ideas will make much of an impact on others who investigate the same questions. For in the end, even if we were to concede every point Kalmin wishes us to accept, I am not clear as to why he thinks he has answered the question announced at the outset, nor do I know what, if anything, is at stake in his book. A description of his program will explain why I fmd the work so alien to contemporary humanistic learning. The layout of the work is daunting. The very opening pages validate my judgment that the man is simply talking to himself, for he begins not with a preface...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 182-188
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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