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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio
Leneman, Helen

Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2007 pp. xii + 261. $70.00

Series Information
Bible in the Modern World, 11

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Description: The Bible and Western culture is a burgeoning area of interest in recent scholarship, but comparatively little has been written on the Bible and music. Leneman's is a groundbreaking work, making some pioneering forays across an important interdisciplinary divide. The Performed Bible is an in-depth study of the librettos and music of 12 operas and oratorios on the story of Ruth from the last two centuries, establishing the potential of music, as a kind of midrash, for transforming a Bible text, its narrative and its characterization. The book includes detailed analyses of musical segments, the author being a cantor and professional musician in whose Jewish tradition biblical texts are chanted, not read. This fresh and insightful work will no doubt prove attractive to biblical scholars, to musicians and to music lovers generally.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, Writings, Ruth, Literature


Review by Elisabeth Birnbaum
Read the Review
Published 7/19/2008
Citation: Elisabeth Birnbaum, review of Helen Leneman, The Performed Bible: The Story of Ruth in Opera and Oratorio, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).


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