Document Type

Article

Date

1995

Embargo Period

2-4-2011

Keywords

Pentateuch, Hebrew Bible, Hebrew law, rhetoric, public reading

Language

English

Disciplines

Religion | Rhetoric and Composition

Description/Abstract

References to reading are remarkably sparse in the Hebrew Bible. Though the variety of forms and styles in the biblical books attests an ancient literary culture in Israel, there is little explicit mention of reading prophecy and virtually no references to reading hymns or history. Most references to reading portray the reading of law.

Such references provide valuable insights into how the Pentateuch's writers expected their work to be read. Reading expectations make up the components of genre and shape the conventions used by writers to compose their works. Thus accounts of law readings also illulllinate the ancient literary conventions for writing law. After surveying references to reading law in the Hebrew Bible, I will argue that the literary and rhetorical form of Pentateuchal law was shaped by Israel's tradition of public law readings.

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