People of the Book
While Scripture is at the center of many religions, among them Islam and Christianity, this book inquires into the function, development, and implications of the centrality of text upon the Jewish community, and by extension on the larger question of...
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While Scripture is at the center of many religions, among them Islam and Christianity, this book inquires into the function, development, and implications of the centrality of text upon the Jewish community, and by extension on the larger question of canonization and the text-centered community. It is a commonplace to note how the landless and scattered Jewish communities have, from the time of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. until the founding of modern Israel in 1948, cleaved to the text and derived their identity from it. But the story is far more complex. The shift from the Bible to the Torah, from biblical religion to rabbinic Judaism mediated by the Sages, and the sealing of the canon together with its continuing interpretive work demanded from the community, amount to what could be called an unparalleled obsession with textuality. Halbertal gives us insights into the history of this obsession, in a philosophically sophisticated yet straightforward narrative.
People of the Book offers the best introduction available to Jewish hermeneutics, a book capable of conveying the importance of the tradition to a wide audience of both academic and general readers. Halbertal provides a panoramic survey of Jewish attitudes toward Scripture, provocatively organized around problems of normative and formative authority, with an emphasis on the changing status and functions of Mishnah, Talmud, and Kabbalah. With a gift for weaving complex issues of interpretation into his own plot, he animates ancient texts by assigning them roles in his own highly persuasive narrative.
Moshe Halbertal teaches Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
- Introduction: Canonical Text And Text-centered Community Part 1: Canon And Meaning 1. The Uses Of Canon 2. The Sealed Canon 3. Authority And Sealing 4. The Meaning Of The Canonical Text 5. Canon And The Principle Of Charity 6. Textual Closure And Hermeneutical Openness 7. Uncharitable Readings Of Canons Part 2: Authority, Controversy, And Tradition 8. Authorial Intention And Authoritative Meaning 9. Canon And Controversy 10. Three Views On Controversy And Tradition 11. From A Flexible Canon To A Closed Code 12. The Institution And The Canon Part 3: Canon And Curriculum 13. Formative Text 14. The Concept Of Torah In "talmud Torah" 15. The Challengers Of Talmudism 16. Codification And Decanonization 17. Esotericism And Censorship 18. Kabbalists And The Talmudic Curriculum 19. Strong Canonicity And Shared Discourse Conclusion Appendix: The Sovereign And The Canon Notes Index