Nico van Uchelen
The Hebrew Bible came into existence centuries after ancient Israel had ceased to exist. During a long process of internal and external growth, the literary corpus went through at least three important historical phases. The three separate periods have left their mark on the character of the book.
The long years of the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century before the Common Era can be assumed to have been an important period of cultural-religious restoration. The gathering, ordering and rewriting of the old-time traditions and the addition of new writings may have produced the framework of what nowadays is called the Hebrew Bible. This harmonizing framework must have pertained not so much to material extent and number of books as to literary character and religious tenure1.
The period of the Roman occupation and the destruction of the temple, and of Jerusalem, in 70 CE, had their accelerating influence on the final form of the literary material, which resulted in a gradual canonisation of the list of books2. Finally, synagogical urgency and philological accuracy induced rabbinic scholars in the 8th century CE to provide the meanwhile well-tried and trusty text with the final signs and signals for pronouncing and reciting.
This procedure has led to a curious paradox. On the one hand the Hebrew Bible presents itself as the "national" history of ancient Israel. The "faits et gestes" of the people of the Lord have been reported chronologically, beginning with the Creation and up to and including the return to the country after the Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, however, the canonical corpus, finally being completed by later periodically redactional activities has become an arte____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Hidden Futures:Death and Immortality in Ancient Egypt, Anatolia, the Classical, Biblical and Arabic-Islamic World. Contributors: J. M. Bremer - Editor, Theo P.J. Van Den Hout - Editor, Rudolph Peters - Editor. Publisher: Amsterdam University Press. Place of publication: Amsterdam. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 77.
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