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Giving Birth To The Hebrew Author: Two Compositions By Johanan Alemanno

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Chapter Summary

A distinctively humanist conception of authorship appeared in Hebrew in 1488, when Rabbi Johanan Alemanno began writing a biography of an ancient author and an autobiography. The two Hebrew compositions scrutinize and criticize ancient author, no longer considered an unapproachable and irreproachable authority, by the same ethical and artistic standards as the modern; both are evaluated as self-conscious writers within a shared system of rhetorical practice. Alemannos Shir haMaʿalot liShelomoh is a long and detailed life of King Solomon that introduces his long commentary on Song of Songs. The other life he wrote about an author, Toledot haAdam haYashar, is a third-person autobiography that describes the development of character of a person, from conception until the age of thirty-five. The title has two complementary senses: The History of the Just Man, if understood as in the Bible, or The Character of the Upright Man, if taken from ancient rabbinic Hebrew.

Keywords: ancient rabbinic Hebrew; autobiography; Hebrew author; King Solomon; Rabbi Johanan Alemanno; Shir haMaʿalot liShelomoh; The History of the Just Man; Toledot haAdam haYashar



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