The Invention of Hebrew

Book Details

Author  Seth L. Sanders
Publisher  University of Illinois Press
Publication Date   June 28, 2011
ISBN  0252078357
Pages  280

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"Revolutions in scholarship do not usually begin with new discoveries, but with new ways of looking at long-known tacts. Whether this is still possible in biblical studies is the question But the realization is dawning that Seth Sanders has done something special." ---Nederlands Dagblad

"An important monograph that synthesizes much previous work yet arrives at an original and provocative understanding of the influence of the development of the Hebrew script and its associated scribal culture on the formation of biblical literature."--- H-Judaic"

Sanders's analysis of West Semitic epigraphic sources moves significantly beyond philological analysis (without leaving it behind) to engage philosophy, political and social theory, and religious studies more broadly . "This book will remain extremely valuable for the way it conceptualizes the creation of biblical literature in new ways and in light of largely unmined data." ---JOurnal Of Religion

"Nearly every page of this book contains gems of epigraphic interpretation." --- Journal of the American Oriental Society

The Invention of Hebrew is the first book to approach the Bible in light of recent epigraphic discoveries on the extreme antiquity of the alphabet and its use as a deliberate and meaningful choice. Hebrew was more than just a way of transmitting information; it was a vehicle of political symbolism and self-representation.

Seth L. Sanders connects the Bible's distinctive linguistic form---writing down a local spoken language---to a cultural desire to speak directly to people, summoning them to join a new community that the text itself helped call into being. Addressing the people of Israel through a vernacular literature, Hebrew texts reimagined their audience as a public. By comparing Biblical documents with related ancient texts in Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Babylonian, this book shows Hebrew's distinctiveness as a self-conscious political language. Illuminating the enduring stakes of Biblical writing, Sanders demonstrates how Hebrew assumed and promoted a source of power previously unknown in written literature: "the people" as the protagonist of religion and politics.

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