Pub. Date:
University of Wisconsin Press
Who Wrought the Bible?: Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets

Who Wrought the Bible?: Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets

by Yair Mazor


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Approaching the Hebrew Bible as a work of literary art, Yair Mazor examines its many genres, including historical narratives, poetic narratives, poetry, psalms, and songs. Line drawings from a late nineteenth-century Bible illustrate many of the most famous scenes in scripture, suggesting another aesthetic layer of the text. By breaking the Bible into constituent parts, Mazor traces the range of its writing styles, reconfiguring the work as a literary collage and an artistic masterpiece. He shows how the aesthetics of the texts that comprise the Bible serve its over-arching message, and he develops a literary portrait of its authors by decoding their cryptic aesthetic devices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299228446
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 11/30/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Yair Mazor is professor of Hebrew and Biblical literature and was the first director of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Certificate Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His many books include The Poetry of Asher Reich: Portrait of a Hebrew Poet and Pain, Pining, and Pine Trees: Contemporary Hebrew Poetry, both available from the University of Wisconsin Press.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations                    
Policy of Transliteration            
1. The Importance of Being Earnest About Definitions: What Is Art? What Is Literature? What Is Biblical Literature? And What Is the Science of Literature and Biblical Literature?                      
2. One More Mandatory Introduction: How Does the Aesthetic Mechanism of the Biblical Text Operate? How Does It Serve the Ideological Message Delivered by the Biblical Text?              
3. What You See Is Not What You Get: When Unity Masquerades as Disarray; Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd or is He My Host?; Cain, Abel, Lemech and even Adam and Eve: Who Lumped Them Together in One Place and Why?                 
4. Abraham versus Abraham, the Real Story of the Ageda Story: Or, One God + One Agony = Two Sacrificial Lambs            
5. Psalm 24: Sense and Sensibility in Biblical Composition                    
6. The Song of Songs, or The Story of Stories? Song of Songs between Genre and Unity                     
7. "Cherchez La Femme," or, Sex, Lies and the Bible . . . Anti-Feminism in the Bible                
8. Rewarding Aesthetic Excavation in Biblical Literary Site: Poetic Devices of Abraham's Service (Genesis, 17-19)                  
9. When Job and Genesis Visit Psalm 139, and When Aesthetics Is Harnessed to Psychological Characterization                      
10. Hosea, 5.1-3: Between Compositional Rhetoric and Rhetorical Composition                      

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Who Wrought the Bible?: Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
adamtarn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had the pleasure of studying Hebrew and literary criticism under Professor Yair Mazor and "Who Wrought the Bible?" is Mazor's application of literary criticism to the Hebrew Bible. In particular, he is interested in teasing out how the biblical authors harness aesthetic devices and compositional rhetoric to serve the bible's ideological message.There are a few real gems in this work. His first introduction (yes, there are two) explores what art and literature are from a philosophical and definitional level. Interestingly, after Mazor defines art (and literature as art) he then makes the case that the bible does not satisfy this definition. Instead he concludes,"Being devoid of aesthetic objectives, the Bible cannot be considered a literary work but a collection of books with a defined pragmatic goal, making use of an astounding array of aesthetic patterns and devices." (21-22)Art (and literature) on the other hand - according to Mazor - are wrought solely for an aesthetic objective (i.e. designed to elicit an emotional, sensual, intellectual, or psychological response). And while I understand the logic of his thesis and argumentation, I am not wholly convinced. For Mazor himself concedes that there is a notable exception with the inclusion of the Song of Songs within the biblical canon. And this is the other real gem in Mazor's book. His chapter on the Song is remarkable and unique in his attempt to decode characterization and narrative plot in a book that has much too often been seen as an assemblage of thematically related poetry. Other chapters were less rewarding for me. Much of his work is spent looking for pattern, aesthetic structure, and form. For instance he examines Hosea 5:1-3 using the techniques of structuralist rhetorical criticism as inspired by the Russian formalists. And while I found much of this tedious I appreciate the unique perspective such a study produces. For the literary critic attempts to see how the writer is communicating as much as what he is communicating and this can clarify aspects of traditional biblical exegesis.In conclusion, I believe Professor Mazor has made a significant contribution to understanding biblical narrative from a literary perspective and his book is welcome contribution to the discipline.