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The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus

Zornberg, Avivah Gottlieb

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ISBN 10: 0385491522 / ISBN 13: 9780385491525
Published by Doubleday, 2001
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Crestview Books (Westerville, OH, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on ...

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

About this title


Avivah Zornberg grew up in a world of rabbinic tradition and scholarship and received a Ph.D. in English literature from Cambridge University. The Particulars of Rapture, the sequel to her award-winning study of the Book of Genesis, takes its title from a line by the American poet Wallace Stevens about the interdependence of opposite things, such as male and female, and conscious and unconscious. To her reading of the familiar story of the Israelites and their flight from slavery in Egypt, Avivah Zornberg has brought a vast range of classical Jewish interpretations and Midrashic sources, literary allusions, and ideas from philosophy and psychology. Her quest in this book, as she writes in the introduction, is "to find those who will hear with me a particular idiom of redemption," who will hear "within the particulars of rapture . . . what cannot be expressed."

Zornberg's previous book, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis, won the National Jewish Book Award for nonfiction in 1995 and has become a classic among readers of all religions. The Particulars of Rapture will enhance Zornberg's reputation as one of today's most original and compelling interpreters of the biblical and rabbinic traditions.


The Particulars of Rapture is Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg's literary and theological exploration of the book of Exodus. Zornberg, the daughter of a rabbi, is a scholar of English literature who has become a popular teacher of religion in Israel, North America, and England. Her approach to Exodus is midrashic--a rabbinic tradition of creative, interpretive, even fanciful study of the Bible that often involves "the telling of stories that fill in gaps in the written biblical text." The Particulars of Rapture gathers many such stories that Zornberg has told and also discusses the process by which she created these stories--a process that she describes with reference to a wide range of psychological, philosophical, and literary works. If this all sounds complicated, that's because it is. "In my approach," she explains, "the biblical text is not allowed to stand alone, but has its boundaries blurred by later commentaries and by a persistent intertextuality that makes it impossible to imagine that meaning is somehow transparently present in the isolated text." She imagines interpretation to be part of the text itself, and not a second- order process that is derived from the text. It's a wise and receptive way of reading, and those willing to follow Zornberg's sometimes knotty prose will find, from time to time, clear bright observations about the way believers continue to experience Israel's slavery, freedom, and redemption even today. --Michael Joseph Gross

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