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Description - The Idea of Biblical Poetry by James Kugel

This text reviews the history of conventional critical literary methods of studying and teaching the Old Testament. Challenging the received wisdom of recent centuries, it focuses on two literary approaches to the Old Testament - parallelism and metrics - seeking to expose their failings. The author postulates that when the Old Testament began to be studied as poetry it ceased to be understood. In this text he reviews the process whereby literary scholars differentiated parts of the Old Testament as prose or poetry, and finds it mistaken. He focuses his attention on two fixtures in literary approaches to the Old Testament - "parallelism" and metrics. An example of "parallelism" is cited as "The righteous man flourishes like a palm tree/Like a cedar in Lebanon he grows great", from Psalm 92:13. Kugel argues that this example is not necessarily a sign of poetry, nor is metre, even in those cases where the metre is unambiguous. As long ago as the 12th century, Rabbi Sa'adya Ga'on, himself a poet, dismissed the idea that anything in the Bible could be regarded as poetry. This controversial work should be of interest to scholars who have applied conventional literary critical methods to study and teach the Old Testament.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801859441
ISBN-10: 0801859441
Format: Paperback
(241mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 5-Jun-1998
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - James Kugel

James Kugel is the Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of Poetry and Prophecy, Early Biblical Interpretation and On Being a Jew, the last available from Johns Hopkins. His The Bible as It Was, an introduction to the Torah's ancient interpreters, was published in 1997.

Books By James Kugel

On Being a Jew by James Kugel
Paperback, March 1998