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Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation Paperback – February 21, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0195152883 ISBN-10: 0195152883

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195152883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195152883
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Through his detailed examination of texts, Levinson documents a revolution in ancient Israel's religious life and social history."--The Journal of Theological Studies


"Bernard Levinson is a brilliant young scholar who has written an outstanding book about how the Covenant Code from Mount Sinai became the Code of Deuteronomy at the borders of the River Jordan. It is a fascinating discourse on how to change law without changing tradition. The importance of Biblical law for canon theory, Biblical narrative, and Israelite religion usually is underestimated; this new approach will hopefully get more people reading law, and especially Deuteronomy. It will be compelling to both American and European readers as it integrates the leading scholarly discourses of both communities."--Norbert Lohfink SJ, Professor of Biblical Studies, Philosophisch- Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt


"An exemplary work of biblical scholarship--careful and controlled by analytic rigor, yet bold and innovative in its scope and suggestions. Students of ancient law, legal literature, religion, and culture will greatly benefit from Levinson's work."--Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Chicago


"In noting that the Deuteronomic innovations were not simply interpolated into a reworked version of the Covenant Code but rather presented in a new, complete composition, Levinson demonstrates his own primary commitment to the text, to the history of textual transmission, and to the social milieu in which the text functions. Levinson elegantly presents the use of the Covenant Code as both a source and resource for the Deuteronomic authors."--Martha T. Roth, Professor, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago and Editor-in-Charge of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary


"Bernard Levinson's book is a major study. He demonstrates the radical break with the past and the way in which the authors or composers of Deuteronomy not only transformed religion and society in ancient Israel but also radically revised its literary history. The power and accomplishment of the Deuteronomic movement has rarely been so clearly demonstrated. Levinson's work is a clarification of the way in which hermeneutics is not something that starts with the interpreter's handling of the canonical text but is a process by which the canonical text itself came into being. He shows how the new text subverts and dominates older texts in behalf of a radical cultural and religious transformation. With this book, Levinson places himself in the front rank of Deuteronomy scholars."--Patrick D. Miller, Charles P. Haley Professor of Old Testament Exegesis and Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary


"Levinson's book is a tour de force."--Journal of Semitic Studies


About the Author

Bernard M. Levinson holds the Berman Family Chair of Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible at the University of Minnesota. He is author of Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (1997), which won the 1999 Salo W. Baron Award for Best First Book in Literature and Thought from the American Academy for Jewish Research. He is coeditor of four volumes, most recently The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance (2007), and the author of The Right Chorale: Studies in Biblical Law and Interpretation (2008). The interdisciplinary significance of his work has been recognized with appointments to both the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Berlin Institute for Advanced Study.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Spender on June 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Levinson's book is an attempted illustration of how earlier textual material has been changed by the author's of Deuteronomy to support the centralization of Israel's religion in Jerusalem. His study examines admittedly difficult passages in Deuteronomy to show how various phrases were used to support this change in Israel's religion and society. According to Levinson, earlier materials (individual phrases) were reworked, at times producing a sense just opposite of the original intention, in support of the authors' program. This close examination of the biblical text illustrates the hermeneutics employed by the authors of Deuteronomy to achieve their goal for the purpose of exposing the motives behind inner-biblical exegesis. Levinson writes well and argues his case clearly. The book illustrates how the older tenants of source criticism have not changed, just shifted. Doublets and conflicts in various stratum are key tools for observing stages of textual growth. In support of recent scholarship Moses becomes but the voice of the redactor and Passover is completely disassociated from the Exodus while the author's of Josianic Deuteronomy are credited with centralizing Israel's religion. This book is a must read for students of OT legal materials and will be of interested for all those in OT studies as an illustration of a current approach to the difficulties of the biblical text.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Koller on March 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An excellent work that examines the legal corpora of Exodus and Deuteronomy textually and demonstrates the dependence that exists between them. Levinson then uses these data to investigate the legal revolution the authors of Deuteronomy had to create, and how they went about revolutionizing the law by manipulating the very texts they were overturning.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William S. Downer on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THE AUTHORS OF DEUTERONOMY SOUGHT TO BRING CENTRAL CULTIC WORSHIP TO JERUSALEM BY "RADICALLY TRANSFORMING" PREVIOUS LEXEMETIC FORMULATIONS. SUCH A PRECEDENT TRANSFORMED RELIGION AS WELL AS EFFECTING POLITICS (62,144). THIS NEW "RECYCLING' AND "REWORKING" (33) ACTUALLY "ABROGATES" PREVIOUS, SAY, EXODUS TORAH. BUT WAS DONE CLINGING TO "MOSAIC AUTHORITY OF VOICE" (6 & 150,145) WHICH IS IN ITSELF NO NEW SCHOLARLY INNOVATION BUT IS THE CURRENT STATUS QUO.

LARGELY BY INTERPRETING DEUTERONOMY IN SEPARATING PASSOVER AND UNLEAVENED BREAD FROM THE EXODUS ACCOUNT (HIS CHAPTER 3), LEVINSON FORMS HIS WHOLE BOOK AROUND THIS DEUTERNOMIC AUTHORS "NEW" INTENT FOR TORAH AND CULTIC WORSHIP. AGAIN KEY TO THE AUTHORS IS THE INTENT TO CENTRALIZE (56) UTILIZING THE JUDAEAN CALENDER WHICH IS AT "HEART" OF SUCH REFORM (53).

LEVINSON USES AN EXTREME AMOUNT OF VERBS AND ADJECTIVES TO DESCRIBE HOW HE SEES THESE "NEW HAPPENINGS" IN DEUTERONMY. FOR EXAMPLE HE USES: "REWORKED,NEW VISION,RECONCEPTUALIZATION,INNOVATION,REWRITTEN BIBLE,USURPATION,EXCISION,REVISION,TRANSFORMATIVE EXEGESIS" (35,20,6,33,73,22 ET AL.) AND HAVE I QUOTED LEVINSON WHEN HE SAYS THAT DEUTERONOMY "IS A DELIBERATE LITERARY PSEUDEGIGRAPH"? ALL OF THIS FALLS UNDER WHAT SCHOLARS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR YEARS IN WHAT WAS FIRST TERMED "REWRITTEN BIBLE." (34) WHICH LEVINSON NOTES IS ALSO WHAT OCCURED AT QUMRAN WITH THE TEMPLE SCROLL (108,155).

ALL OF LEVINSON'S FIVE CHAPTER TITLES ENTAIL IDEAS OF CHANGE, REWORKING AND NEWNESS. CHAPTER ONE USES THE WORDS "TEXTUAL REVISION"; CHAPTER TWO ADDS "INNOVATION"; CHAPTER THREE AND FOUR NOTES "TRANSFORMATION"; CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUDES WITH "REVISIONARY."

THIS FAIRLY SHORT BOOK (157 PAGES) IS TIGHTLY ARGUED AND WELL BALANCED.
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