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Twelfth-Century Biblical Exegetes And The Invention Of Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter claims that biblical exegetes working primarily in northern France during the twelfth-century Renaissance essentially invent the notion of literature through their contextual reading of biblical composition and their attention to what we would call its literary qualities. It exclusively considers Jewish biblical exegetes writing in Hebrew. In order to appreciate the extent and detail of the exegetes attention to literary form and features, the chapter focuses on their approach to specific features of that composition, the presence of which is generally taken to indicate the literary or artistic quality of a text. Finally, by presenting the Bible contextually as a sophisticated, complex text; by assigning a decidedly human role to the composition of the divine message; and by calling attention to literary devices in biblical composition, the twelfth-century biblical exegetes made possible the eventual emergence of literature both as a concept and as an object of study.

Keywords: Hebrew; Jewish biblical exegetes; literature; twelfth-century Renaissance



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