Sustaining Fictions: Intertextuality, Midrash, Translation, and the Literary Afterlife of the Bible (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies)

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9780567027092: Sustaining Fictions: Intertextuality, Midrash, Translation, and the Literary Afterlife of the Bible (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies)
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Even before the biblical canon became fixed, writers have revisited and reworked its stories. The author of Joshua takes the haphazard settlement of Israel recorded in the Book of Judges and retells it as an orderly military conquest. The writer of Chronicles expurgates the David cycle in Samuel I and II, offering an upright and virtuous king devoid of baser instincts. This literary phenomenon is not contained to inner-biblical exegesis. Once the telling becomes known, the retellings begin: through the New Testament, rabbinic midrash, medieval mystery plays, medieval and Renaissance poetry, nineteenth century novels, and contemporary literature, writers of the Western world have continued to occupy themselves with the biblical canon. However, there exists no adequate vocabulary-academic or popular, religious or secular, literary or theological-to describe the recurring appearances of canonical figures and motifs in later literature.


Literary critics, bible scholars and book reviewers alike seek recourse in words like adaptation, allusion, echo, imitation and influence to describe what the author, for lack of better terms, has come to call retellings or recastings. Although none of these designations rings false, none approaches precision. They do not tell us what the author of a novel or poem has done with a biblical figure, do not signal how this newly recast figure is different from other recastings of it, and do not offer any indication of why these transformations have occurred. Sustaining Fictions sets out to redress this problem, considering the viability of the vocabularies of literary, midrashic, and translation theory for speaking about retelling.

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About the Author:

Lesleigh Cushing Stahlberg is Associate Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at Colgate University, USA. She is co-editor of Scrolls of Love: Reading Ruth and the Song of Songs, as well as articles on the Bible in literature and contemporary culture.

Andrew Mein is Tutor in Old Testament, Westcott House, Cambridge.



Claudia V. Camp is Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University, USA and was on the steering committee of the Seminar. She is currently co-general editor of the LHBOTS series, as well as the author or editor of 4 books and numerous articles.

Review:

Mention —Book News, February 2009

"Stahlberg's monograph is groundbreaking in its search for more precise ways of describing retellings and in its concern for all retellings, textual and otherwise, ancient and modern. Its interaction with the history of interpretation and its interdisciplinary forays are well researched and valuable for further study." —Paul S. Evans, McMaster Divinity College, Hebrew Studies 50 (2009) (Paul S. Evans, McMaster Divinity College)

"The volume reads very well and is engagingly written. It manages admirably to explain complex issues of both literary theory and halakic thought in an easily accessibly manner. Stahlberg is well read and in command of the areas that she explores. I also believe that this book fills a gap in the current scholarly literature. Whether later reviewers and biblical scholars will actually use this particular terminology remains to be seen, but this book has provided us with at least preliminary tools. I can therefore recommend this book warmly." — Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Review of Biblical Literature (Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer Review of Biblical Literature)

"This study comes at an opportune time...This book takes on an issue that desperately needs to be addressed, and Stahlberg is to be credited for pointing the way toward further study. Students of the Bible's reception history, in whatever period they work, will find here much to think about and much to carry forward."
-Molly M. Zahn, Journal of Religion, Oct. 2009

Mention –Book News, February 2009

"Stahlberg's monograph is groundbreaking in its search for more precise ways of describing retellings and in its concern for all retellings, textual and otherwise, ancient and modern. Its interaction with the history of interpretation and its interdisciplinary forays are well researched and valuable for further study." —Paul S. Evans, McMaster Divinity College, Hebrew Studies 50 (2009) (Sanford Lakoff)

"The volume reads very well and is engagingly written. It manages admirably to explain complex issues of both literary theory and halakic thought in an easily accessibly manner. Stahlberg is well read and in command of the areas that she explores. I also believe that this book fills a gap in the current scholarly literature. Whether later reviewers and biblical scholars will actually use this particular terminology remains to be seen, but this book has provided us with at least preliminary tools. I can therefore recommend this book warmly." — Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Review of Biblical Literature (Sanford Lakoff Review of Biblical Literature)

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