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Genre Theory, Rewritten Bible and Pesher

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This article considers how the wide range of compositions from the Second Temple period that represent or depend implicitly or explicitly on some form of authoritative Jewish scripture should be suitably described and categorized. Three broad sets of issues are addressed. The first concerns how the “authority” of texts or textual traditions within particular groups of texts should be articulated suitably, particularly in relation to the respective roles for form, content and function in such articulations. The second concerns the role that should be played by reflections on the hierarchy of genres, generic instability, and evolutionary models of genre construction in how it is appropriate to distinguish earlier from later, or authoritative from dependent, primary from secondary compositions. The third concerns what labels might suitably be imposed on this broad range of literature, a breadth of literary compositions that seldom makes plain how it understands itself. The questions are addressed by the open-ended definition of the corpus to be studied, by consideration of the problems surrounding the criteria for generic definition, by reviewing the perspectives derived from thinking about the evolution of genres, and by giving some place to the need for cross-cultural analogies. A concluding section asks diachronic and synchronic questions about anthologies of authoritative texts and their interpretations.

Affiliations: 1: University of Manchester, Email:


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