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The Symbolic Significance Of Writing In Ancient Judaism

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Chapter Summary

James Kugel's discussion is rich with implications for the study of sacred writing in ancient Judaism. This chapter explores some of those implications by considering the symbol of writing in biblical prophecy. It uncovers traces of writing's rise to prominence in both pre-exilic and exilic passages, traces that are discernible sometimes between passages and sometimes between the lines of redacted traditions. The chapter focuses on a group of biblical passages and their shifting portrayals of the authority of sacred writing. In considering biblical texts, however, the main concern is the connection of writing and the Israelite imagination. It raises such questions as: how was the work of writing imagined? What was the symbolic significance of sacred writing? How was the authority of writing conceived at different times? It also examines, references are made to prophetic ability to read and, in certain cases, even to write down divine revelation.

Keywords: biblical prophecy; divine revelation; Israelite imagination; James Kugel; Judaism; sacred writing; symbolic significance



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