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Biblical Texts In Jewish Prayers: Their History And Function

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Chapter Summary

Biblical texts appear in rabbinic liturgy in four primary modes: (1) as the citation of complete biblical pericopes as prayers or study passages; (2) as the explicit citation of verses as midrashic-style proof texts to buttress the theological statement of a prayer; (3) as reused biblical language, often adjusted in grammar or meaning to its new context; and (4) in prayers that consist virtually entirely of concatenated unadapted verses. In these last two, rabbinic Jews use biblical language to construct coherent new compositions, using mechanisms that Judith Newman terms 'scripturalizing' and 'biblicizing'. All four of these modes contribute to the emergence of a rabbinic liturgy that, by the end of the first millennium, was composed almost entirely in Hebrew and not in anyone's vernacular. The Rabbanite centos appear exclusively in the elements of the liturgy that crystallized after the rabbinic statutory prayers and that are recited before and after them.

Keywords: Biblical texts; Hebrew; Jewish prayers; Rabbanite centos; rabbinic liturgy; rabbinic statutory prayers



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