Hebrews between Cultures: Group Portraits and National by Meir Sternberg

By Meir Sternberg

The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, Sternberg's final ebook, verified a new point of class for biblical research. In Hebrews among Cultures, he shifts his concentration from person id to the gang, for that reason the Hebrews. Sternberg's research of the improvement within the Bible of the Hebrew identification (and exchange identities) is tremendous, hard, intellectually rigorous and strange, and mostly unforeseen and dramatic.

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The rule that the economy of language abhors duplication ("exact synonymy") holds with special force here. Paul indeed multiplies ethnica for show, name-dropper style, consecutively boasting descent from "Israel" and the "Hebrews''; but would his equation of pedigrees enjoy more canonical warrant than his disjunction of flesh and faith? Again, Shakespeare's Juliet proverbially divorces word from thing, "Romeo" from Romeo: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other word would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 43-44).

This Pauline disjunction would outrage most of his predecessors and contemporaries; numberless successors, whatever their flesh and faith, would at least oppose it to the wholeness of self envisaged in the Bible. " In this pairing by co-reference, the writers of the Apocrypha are at one with their New Testament opposite numbers, the Rabbis with the scholars up to the late nineteenth century, ancient with contemporary usage. Fellow victims of anachronism due to lost Scriptural knowledge and competence?

The appeal has never been properly madewhether because deemed superfluous or because mixed with error and unreason or because left inconclusive 2nor will I stop now to repair the omissions beyond outlining a few pros to be taken up in due course. Time and again, the Israelite reference of the name finds anchorage in the name-bearer's known identity, as with the very first "Hebrew" staged by the canon, Abra(ha)m, or for that matter the last, the bondmen in Zedekiah's Jerusalem (Genesis 14:13, Jeremiah 34:8-17).

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