The Rabbis and the Prophets

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University Press of America, Dec 22, 2010 - Religion - 226 pages
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The Prophets of Scripture are subverted by the Rabbis of the Talmud and Midrash. In the Rabbinic canon, the Prophets are represented as a miscellaneous mass of proof-texts, made up of one clause or sentence at a time. The Scripture's prophetic writings cited in clauses and phrases in the Rabbinic canon lose their integrity and cease to speak in fully coherent paragraphs and chapters. The same prophets, however, came to whole and coherent expression in other venues established by those same Rabbis. So the Rabbis of late antiquity took over writings from what they recognized as ancient times and of divine origin and they re-presented selections of those writings in accord with their own project's requirements, glossing clauses of the prophetic Scriptures but not whole, propositional discourses. This monograph shows how they did so. It portrays the formal patterns of the Rabbis' subversive glosses. Why impose the chaos of glosses on the orderly declaration of Scripture? It was to take possession of Scriptural prophecy that the Rabbinic authors imposed their characteristic forms and distinctive topics—-the characteristic categories and tasks and propositions. The Rabbinic canonical writings took over, imparting upon the received heritage of Scripture and tradition whatever they chose to treat as authoritative. They did with these selected compositions whatever they wanted. They Rabbinized Scripture in full awareness of how in the process they recast Scripture's own forms and purposes. The Rabbis were perfectly capable of recapitulating prophetic writings as coherent statements. This they did in providing for lections for Sabbaths and festivals.

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About the author (2010)

Jacob Neusner is a leading figure in the American academic study of religion. He revolutionized the study of Judaism and brought it into the field of religion, built intellectual bridges between Judaism and other religions, thereby laying the groundwork for durable understanding and respect among religions. He has advanced the careers of younger scholars and teachers through his teaching and publication programs. Neusner's influence on the study of Judaism and religion is broad, powerful, distinctive, and enduring.

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