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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Invention of Hebrew
Sanders, Seth L.

Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2009 pp. xvi + 258. $50.00


Description: The Invention of Hebrew is the first book to approach the Bible in light of recent findings on the use of the Hebrew alphabet as a deliberate and meaningful choice. Seth L. Sanders connects the Bible's distinctive linguistic form--writing down a local spoken language--to a cultural desire to speak directly to people, summoning them to join a new community that the text itself helped call into being. Addressing the people of Israel through a vernacular literature, Hebrew texts gained the ability to address their audience as a public. By comparing Biblical documents with related ancient texts in Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Babylonian, this book details distinct ways in which Hebrew was a powerfully self-conscious political language. Revealing the enduring political stakes of Biblical writing, The Invention of Hebrew demonstrates how Hebrew assumed and promoted a source of power previously unknown in written literature: "the people" as the protagonist of religion and politics.

Subjects: Methods, Linguistics, Hebrew

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Review by Ziva Shavitsky
Published 7/10/2010
Citation: Ziva Shavitsky, review of Seth L. Sanders, The Invention of Hebrew, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2010).


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