Memory and Tradition in Israel

Memory and Tradition in Israel

Memory and Tradition in Israel

Memory and Tradition in Israel

Excerpt

Within recent years the important role played by memory in the formulation of Old Testament tradition has been widely recognized. The term has appeared with growing frequency in many popular works which deal with the growth and interpretation of the biblical faith. Still no thorough study has been done on the subject.

The writer began his investigation with the thought of possibly publishing an article. After several months of research it became evident that the material was too vast to include even within a brief monograph. The present study is limited to a discussion of memory within the Old Testament and leaves untouched the rich usage in the post-biblical literature of Rabbinic and Hellenistic Judaism, as well as that of the New Testament.

This monograph focuses on a small area within the Old Testament. It is a study of one Hebrew root as it appears in its nominal and verbal forms. However, from this small point of entry a perspective is won which has widespread implications for understanding the whole of the Old Testament. In a sense, the book is an apology for a return to the detailed work of biblical scholarship. There is here no less concern for the broad theological issues, but a conviction that our grasp of biblical theology grows only as we get past the stage of the general survey.

This study focuses on several main issues. First, we attempt to discover what the Old Testament understands by memory, and what is the scope of its meaning. This entails a detailed discussion of the philological evidence and an investigation of the psychological foundations of memory. Secondly, we strive to discover through a form-critical analysis the context within Israel's life in which memory plays a significant role. This provides a key for interpreting the later theological usage of the term. Thirdly, the theological problem of memory and its relation to tradition is discussed. The familiar problem of the meaning of biblical history is then raised, hopefully with a fresh perspective.

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