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Exilic and post-exilic prophecy and the orality/literacy problem

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This paper explores the uses of writing as documented in late pre-exilic and especially in exilic and post-exilic Judaean prophetic texts in the context of the orality/literacy debate. It delineates the impact the rising importance of writing had on Judaean prophecy and attempts to show that writing as a new "technology of the intellect" (J. Goody) irreversibly altered the character of Judaean prophecy. The paper also demonstrates that the concept of an orality/literacy continuum is likely to distort our view of the significance of writing in Israelite prophecy—and, indeed, of Israelite history as a whole. Against this background, it makes sense to reconsider the relationship between prophecy and scribalism. The passages from exilic and post-exilic prophetic texts discussed in the present paper indicate that, from the late pre-exilic period onwards, the contacts between prophets and priests/scribes became closer and closer.

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